Since studying in the UK and France, Cameron Scott has been working for the last 25 years in the field of Low Energy Timber Architecture and Design, adopting a Kaizen or 'continuous improvement' approach to design philosophy. Outlined here is his design strategy and how it shapes the projects he works on.
Cameron's interest in how buildings are realised is fundamental to his design philosophy. This is perhaps more akin to product design, where the majority of thinking, design, calculation and co-ordination takes place before production. This ethos is particularly suited to Timber Architecture, where structural prefabrication predominates.
The focus for this 'continuous improvement' approach is broad, ranging from the micro to the macro. At a micro scale, acknowledging that both 'angels' and the 'devil' reside in the detail, the emphasis remains ensuring the detail receives as much consideration as the concept. Continual adjustment and updating of strategies, methods and materials in pursuit of 'marginal gains', taken as a whole, often has longer reaching impacts. This process is iterative from project to project, informed by elegance, ease of realisation, changing production methods, material choice and in service performance.
At the macro scale, spatial design, comfort and building performance are of course all inter-linked and increasingly complex. As building performance increases we move into progressively more technical territory, designing to avoid overheating, maintaining a healthy internal environment and protecting building fabric in the long term. Dynamic thermal modelling and digital monitoring technology has opened up a new workflow to the design studio which helps answer these questions and shorten the notoriously long feedback/learning cycle in architecture.
With these tools forming part of the design workflow and post-occupancy feedback, the firm is in a better position to design fit for purpose architecture and apply lessons learnt more efficiently. Typically, building and glazing orientation, roof overhangs, window shading and material choices all have significant influence on the success of a building design. Often, received wisdoms and conventions need questioning, re-evaluating and redefining for the higher performing buildings that Cameron now designs. Post occupancy fabric and internal conditions monitoring all help inform the success of strategy and detail design providing an opportunity to improve both modelled simulation predictions and micro/macro building design.
Fundamentally it is reliable, high speed communications and travel infrastructure that allow the firm to work across the country whilst being based in rural Dartmoor, Devon. Projects have included new houses as distant as the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides and Essex, a National Trust Warden's Base in Hampshire, the new HQ for the Earth Trust in Oxfordshire and a restaurant in the heart of London at Lincoln's Inn Fields as well as more fleeting projects such as the Chelsea Flower Show.