Concluding a Project: Screen to Reality

Now at the stage where detailing and materiality are central, our Chelsea Heights project is set to wrap up in three weeks. Once surrounded by scaffolding, only a few remnants remain, bound to be removed soon.

There are few feelings quite like a project coming to its conclusion. A build can be 90% complete, and yet until the details and finishes are installed, it feels like you’re closer to when the slab was poured, than you are to handing the keys to new residents. It’s a curious moment, where a project turns from a construction site to a home.

In architecture, we spend an excess of time designing on a screen or, in our director’s case, a drafting board. We don’t sense projects as something real until a build is complete. No software — at least not yet — can completely emulate the ambience that timber, stone, or concrete gives to a space. We are limited to appearances, and still, there’s no guarantee that the Sketchup texture you spent so long refining corresponds with an available material sample a supplier can provide.

It’s part of why we have a catalogue of available materials and details that we refer to and avoid getting carried away.

The Trade Library

 BY Projects’ physical material catalogue

While we live in the digital world, we still take the time and space in our office to run and maintain our very physical Trade Library: an extensive record of available material samples provided by our suppliers. Through said physical samples, we give ourselves and our clients a tactile idea of how their future flooring, benchtops, cupboards, and everything in between will look and feel. And sound, if you drop them.

A photorealistic render is impressive, a near-identical representation of a future build. Yet nothing can prepare you for the feeling of the bumps and valleys of natural stone, the sound of timber as you walk, or the temptation to take off your shoes to feel if it’s cool or warm beneath your feet. And the subsequent realisation that you must leave the granite benchtop behind as you make your way back into the office, off to the paper/digital realm to eventually bring yet another project to its physical conclusion.


Ioanna PetropoulouFeb 16th, 2023


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