In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Smith

Created for Clerkenwell Design Week, Smith is a pavilion and exhibition that showcases the innovative use of tools in making, from historic crafts to contemporary fabrication techniques. Throughout history, Clerkenwell has been home to an extensive range of smiths: silversmiths, goldsmiths, booksmiths, watchsmiths, clocksmiths, woodsmiths, inksmiths, and even coffeesmiths. Smith is especially interested in the creative re-appropriation of tools and equipment for new uses.

During CDW, contemporary craftspeople and smiths took residence at Smith, hosting a number of workshops and demonstrations: Harrington and Squires set up four Adana presses, offering visitors the opportunity to try the traditional process of letterpress printing and print their own postcards to take away; the Goldsmiths Centre hosted a pop-up jewellery and silversmithing workshop; while Hobs Studio invited architects and designers to submit their designs in an interactive workshop, and the winner had their own model made by the studio using its latest 3D printing.

The pavilion itself is made from fibre-cement panels, a material invented by re-appropriating an old paper mill and spinning-machine. On the interior, CNC-cut pieces are pieced together to tell the story of the various tools and equipment used by smiths throughout Clerkenwell’s history.

Fibre-cement has a range of strengths in its material properties, but is rarely used other than as exterior cladding. Smith crafts fibre-cement with both traditional and innovative tools to test its structural properties.

In order to make the most of fibre-reinforced cement we developed Smith in close collaboration with Structural Engineers Webb Yates and Fabricators Nicholas Alexander. We found that although the material is brittle it has very good tensile properties, allowing us to experiment by using the panels as a stress skin on a timber frame. As the material is normally only used as a cladding material, we had to conduct a number of structural tests in order to check the load that the panels could take.

Fibre-reinforced cement is usually used as large panels and cut either on-site by a saw, or off-site by CNC machine. We made use of the different cutting technologies available, by using CNC milling to engrave text on the panels, and water-jet cutting to cut the large sheets into intricate pieces, which could then be pieced together, like a large jigsaw.