There is no such word as can’t…

…well, actually, there is and it works quite effectively in statements such as ‘I can’t possibly kill that person’ – anyway, you’ll understand what I mean by the title when you read the blog…

The Roca showroom (which is right on my doorstep – not literally as that would be impractical for all parties – it’s quite near our house) designed by Zaha Hadid Architects recently opened and on Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to be part of a guided tour hosted by the architects and the construction company – and, in summary, it is quite simply a magnificent thing. During the course of the evening I heard about their fascinating journey from the original concept, through the design process and into the practical realities of constructing this cutting edge space.

The overarching concept for the space is the movement of water – and, as a consequence, it looks like water erosion has created the internal cave like formations throughout the building. In fact, it looks as though water has sculpted and defined each and every detail in the space, from the lights, which look like droplets of water, to the reception and meeting desks, to the tiles on the floor, which look like rippling waves (there are 1200 unique tile shapes!).

In terms of the space itself, it is a jigsaw puzzle of epic proportions. The whole thing is formed of glass reinforced concrete and gypsium elements – 272 unique panels in total – these all slot against one another with visible seams. Interesting factoid – the original 3D design model had no seams – this meant that the entire team of architects, designers and construction engineers had to work together to determine how to make the space buildable.

The size of the concrete panels and hence the position of the seams was also restricted by transportation and installation issues – straightforward practicalities such as getting them onto a truck and into the building… hence, the panels used to construct the space had to be restricted in size to 4m x 2.2m. It was also amazing to hear them talk about the detailed design process that was required before any of the concrete panels could be produced – the position of every light fitting, electrical socket and display blot had to be determined so they could be drilled in to the concrete panels before they arrived on site.

It was also fascinating to hear them talk about the beginning of the project, when no one really knew how to achieve the desired design (as it was quite simply pushing the boundaries of design and everyone’s capabilities and knowledge). As a team they worked together to find solution after solution and created what is a truly magnificent space and one that you should make an effort to visit. Through this space they have demonstrated that there is ‘no such word as can’t…’ (well, actually, there is… but you get the point…).


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