Design Architect: Ross Langdon
Implementing Architect: Studio FH Architects
Structural Engineer: MBW Consulting
Quantity Surveyor: Dudley Kasibante and Partners
Contractor: CMD Investments
Developer: Cotton On Foundation
Photographs: Will Boase
Location: Mannya, Uganda
Project year: 2016
Felix Holland of Studio FH Architects writes:
We are happy to report that another of Ross’ designs has been recently completed. The ‘Ross Langdon Health Education Centre’ as it has been named is a small community hall located in the village of Mannya in Rakai, South-western Uganda. It provides space for about 150 people, sitting on simple clay tile steps, and for a speaker, standing on a small elevated platform. Adjacent to the hall is a room for private meetings and a store. At the front is a walkway covered by a pergola providing shade for informal gatherings and relaxation.
As good as we can tell in his absence, Ross envisioned the Health Education Centre as a small pavilion, entirely inward-looking and made of the most basic of building materials available in Southern Uganda: eucalyptus poles as the main structure with clay brick infills and clay tile floors. There are no windows, and instead the building envelop filters light in various ways; perforations in the brickwork, a gap between walls and roof, a high-level roof vent with skylight and the ‘Liters of Light’ that illuminate the stage. The roof cover is made of zinc-al roof sheets supported by Eucalyptus trusses, and the ceiling is made of purpose-designed handmade ‘Mukeka’ reed mats.
Further information about the building and process can be found on the 'news' page.
South Western Uganda
Regional Associates, 2012
Regional Associates undertook a major renovation of this existing lodge in Buhoma, South Western Uganda. To begin with the main areas were reconstructed using local eucalyptus pole framing and thatch. The forms were inspired by the steep hills of the Bwindi Impenetrable forest onto which the lodge faces. Locally sourced bamboo was used to create a new pergola structure. A new reception building and massage house have also been constructed.
The lodges 8 existing banda’s have also undergone major upgrades with the introduction of new bathrooms complete with solar hot water and flushing toilets. Deep timber window reveals are utilized to create a space for the display of objects and artifacts whilst offering a variety of glimpses out into the landscape beyond.
Photos: ™ PHOTO www.tmphoto.co & ross langdon
South Western Uganda
Situated on the periphery of Queen Elizabeth National Park in South West Uganda, the Savannah Banda’s (rooms) form the second phase development of Kyambura Gorge Lodge, a newly completed eco tourism venture focusing on wildlife conservation, wetlands restoration and community engagement.
The locally fired bricks, sourced from a number of local communities, each have differing colours, textures and forms. Each of the four Bandas explore a different technique in brick construction and bonding.
The first uses horizontal lines interpreted from the foreground, middle ground and background of the panoramic view over the national park and distant mountains to create stratification defined by different coloured bricks. The landscape is literally drawn through the building.
The roofs are conceived of as oversized shading devices, disconnected from the walls supported by their own structure. They are composed in sequence, like a flock of birds frozen in a moment of flight. The roofs are clad using recycled corrugated iron, collected from surrounding villages in a new for old roof exchange providing new roofs for schools and underprivileged families. The rusty iron is laid across the frame like a patchwork quilt.
The raw surfaces of the natural materials are expressed internally as they are externally. The textured surfaces create a backdrop for found and salvaged objects. Trunks made from recycled metal, sideboards from roadside shops and old chairs that have been mended anew with minimum of effort, leaving traces and scars from previous lives. Remnants of local fabrics found in markets are collaged together with end of line London high street fabrics sent to Africa for resale and distribution, to create bedspreads, curtains and pillow covers. Recycled hessian coffee sacks, paying homage to the sites previous life as a coffee plantation, are patched and sewn together to create curtains.
Inspired by the ingenuity of African ‘up-cycled’ objects, building materials, tools and knowhow, interiors were designed and assembled from a pastiche of locally available materials, furniture, found objects and skills. Nothing is wasted, all broken, waste materials, objects, complete with imperfections and flaws, are utilised and expressed. Whilst such a strategy is sustainable by nature, the context from which it is generated is born from necessity to source locally in remote regions and an inclusive interior design process informed by material availability and skills specific to the local Ugandan craftsmanship.
Natural materials area expressed and contrasted. Varying brick types, hues from local timbers, bamboo and reeds are juxtaposed to create a complex display of depth, light and shadow. Indirect light is allowed to filter through gaps between blade walls and roofs, reed screens are clad cover mosquito mesh to allow dappled light to wash the papyrus matt ceilings. Surfaces are awash with the glow from morning sun and the crimson reds of the Ugandan sunset. During the harsh midday sun, direct light is excluded from interiors spaces by the large overhanging roofs. Carefully placed lighting and splashes of colour are integrated to provide a counter to the earthen tones of the natural materials. Each Banda is prescribed a colour tone inspired by the pastel coloured paints and mud washes used in contemporary Uganda mud huts.
Photos: ross langdon
Repositioning The Remote
kelly doran, louis hall, ross langdon, ana reis
Vardø is intrinsically linked to the Barentsz Sea. The future of the Arctic waters will drive the development or decline of this isolated urban enclave. Historically an Arctic outpost of exploration, expansion, logistics, militarism and industry, Vardø’s relationship with the Sea has continuously evolved to suit changing economic and political paradigms. Geographically, Vardø’s unique location has constantly been reframed to adapt to these changes; the edge of the Viking expansion, the midpoint of Pomor trade, the end of Norway, a Cold War front, a surveillance centre and now the “Closest Point” to offshore oil production. As this frame shifts further north towards receding ice sheets, Arctic shipping lanes , offshore oil fields and ecological transformation, Vardø is poised to redefine its relationship to the Barentsz once more. Simultaneously at the end, edge and centre, Vardø will reposition itself to inform the future of the Barentsz Sea.
By analyzing Vardø’s horizons and establishing a set of development principles that will adapt themselves to a range of economic possibilities, the Vardø harbour can reposition itself to inform the future of the Barentsz Sea. Immediately, a set of cultural buildings and spaces inserted into the harbour front can serve to regenerate the civic life of the area and attract new users to the community. With the next era of Norwegian energy production set to exploit reserves proximate to Vardø, the harbour will act to service the industry while protecting the fragile ecology of the region. Beyond the oil horizon, Vardø must create new means of production, and utilise the harbour as the centre of a post-carbon economy. By revitalizing existing industrial structures with cultural program, regenerating the water’s edge through marine infrastructures and colonising interstitial spaces with new modes of ecological production, the Vardø habour will again become the centre of public and private life.
ross langdon, ben milbourne, sebastian kofink, campbell drake
Kyambura Lodge is a new eco-lodge (currently under construction) on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda (on the edge of the Great Rift Valley). The site was formerly a coffee co-operative and processing factory. The lodge re-use's the existing buildings for the main public areas. New build accommodation is constructed using locally sourced materials and labour to provide a unique contextual response to the surrounding national parks, farmland, industrial buildings and vernacular dwellings.
Photos: ™ PHOTO www.tmphoto.co & ross langdon
Bodø International Ideas Competition 2008
ross langdon, ana reis, matthias zahn
This winning entry for Bodo’s new cultural centre responds to the northern Norwegian towns way of life and dramatic natural landscapes, by adapting to environmental concerns and embracing the social and political climate.
The entry proposes an ambitious and evocative response to cultural change and economical growth whilst respecting the fabric and regulated structure of the existing city grid.
The primary functions consist of a library, theatre/concert hall, rhythmic centre and a slooping museum.
A strong and integrated relationship between proposed buildings and the pre-existing cityscape is essential to the schemes success. View axis are created to link each of the buildings and to preserve existing views to the harbour. Visual connections between the inside and outside are maximised particularly at street level, creating a sense of transparency and inclusiveness.
Taking their initial inspiration from the harsh juxtaposition of natural and artificial landscapes in and around Bodo, the buildings seek to mediate the two landscape conditions, they emerge from the ground plane, almost as if carved from stone, standing like rocks in a stream.
A flexible approach to urban design rather than authoritarian has led to the development of a family of elements which form an underlying structure for the overall urban design strategy, capable of growth, phasing and repetition. The parts mediate between the scale of the urban and that of the individual, from the carved forms of the Bibliotek, Jektefartsmuseet and Kulturhus to a bench set within a landscaped promenade.
Hobart Waterfront International Design Competition 2006
ross langdon, dan devine
Dan reflects on his collaborations and friendship with Ross:
I was working in Perth, Western Australia, had handed in my resignation and booked a one way flight to London. I was sitting at my desk listening to the radio when I heard that familiar unmistakable voice of my old friend Ross. He had won the Realise Your Dream competition and the prize was flights to the UK and a position at an architecture firm of his choice. He was to land in London two months after me.
2006 was our first year in that fantastic city. I remember clearly sitting in a cafe on Curtain road, Shoreditch drinking coffee and discussing our new lives. London. Europe. Endless possibilities. It was exciting.
Towards the end of that first year, Ross tells me of an international ideas competition for Sullivans Cove – the Hobart waterfront. He wants to form a team. It was a chance to re examine our ‘home’ from abroad. A new perspective gained from being outside. To study our home town in a broader, global context. “We have a good chance, Dan. We know this town.” And so from London we looked back, studying the details from afar.
Both of us were working full time in office jobs (Ross at John McAslan + Partners after a short stint in Zaha Hadid’s studio). Ross took two weeks off to focus solely on the competition, while I could only manage evenings after work and weekends. Needless to say Ross did the bulk of the work. The living room in his flat near Portobello road was converted into a studio – walls collaged in drawings, sketches, research, all flat surfaces smothered in models and materials, cutting boards and scalpels. The evenings were a hum of excited conversations, a lot of debate and a constant flow ideas and the challenge was: how to get all this on paper? Distil this avalanche of thought and discussion into a coherent two pages?
For us it was a chance to try and understand what it means to live in Tasmania. On an island. At the end of the world. Next stop Antarctica.
We started with detailed mapping, the streets, the many subterranean arcades, the natural movement and flow through the existing city fabric, the hubs and public spaces, and the under-utilised parts of the city, residual and void. To this we bonded an array of ligaments that reinforced and extended, tying each grain of the city together, linking and assimilating each identified place - studying carefully how each one could be used, improved, reinvented, regenerated and re-imagined.
It was through these ligaments, movement and activity flowed, carving through the city like a river - peeling back its layers to reveal archaeology, our histories, to showcase and propagate our cultures, art and industry, connecting to and forming events spaces, to stitch in ecology and biodiversity, to celebrate Tasmania’s landscapes and patterns of landscape, revel in specific conditions of this unique place and ultimately to create new ways the city can be used, explored and interacted with.
San Sebastian, Spain
ross langdon, moto katono, ana reis, naofumi takoko
The Tabakalera has become a valued ICON inextricably linked with the city of San Sebastian. Its renovation means taking into account its HISTORY in order to define accurately its present and future place in the local community and further afield.
Once emblematic of industrial progress, the new Tabakalera will be the twenty-first century factory of social and cultural enhancement.
Tabakalera has to become a place of ACCESS to culture and ideas, a place of DEBATE, a place where PEOPLE as USERS and ACTORS can learn, communicate and express their ideas and will locally and globally.
As a local icon, the meaning and physical envelope of the renovated Tabakalera is also weaved into the singularity of the Basque cultural environment. I will act as a PLATFORM of interaction, a point in a wider NETWORK where identities are flexible and multilayered, here and there, locally and globally, where one can be Basque, citizen of the world, and European at the same time and anywhere.
A new urban street is carefully cut through the Tabakalera, maximizing transparency and interconnectivity, whilst minimising disturbance to the existing structure. The internal street becomes a new CULTURAL AGORA.
The four existing courtyards become stages for display, performance and interaction. The street is both an extension of the spectacle within the display/production spaces and a service spine, providing amenity and respite.
Activity flows seamlessly between enclosed and open spaces. Blurring the boundaries between public and private.
Vervet Shipyard Site
kelly doran, ross langdon, ana reis
A participatory process involving four architectural firms was used to develop and explore ways of rehabilitating a large industrial site in the centre of Tromsø. A proposal exploring 100% public programme was developed by our team. Two other models developed were for 50/50 public/private partnership and 100% private investment.
Vervet: 100% Public
The core focus of the project is the proposed new “Nordområdemuseet”. The museum desires to be iconic whilst the site demands a considered approach to the existing urban fabric, the integration of outdoor public space and access to the foreshore.
From the merging of ‘park/public space’ and ‘icon’ the concept of an ‘iconic park’ is developed. Where the building(s) and outdoor spaces become blurred, accessible and iconic.
Core urban principles are based upon a reinterpretation of Tromso’s unique geographic and urban conditions. The existing central park style urban pattern and the clear division between the east and west sides of the island form the basis for abstraction and development of a formative diagram.
Located in the remote outer Islands of the Seychelles, the eco-development of Alphonse Island embodies the core focus of conservation coupled with sustainable principles of development; environmentally, economically and socially.
The most sustainable environmental approach would be to build nothing, however, as facilities to accommodate guests are required, the proposed construction attempts to disappear and dissolve into the landscape - an architectural minimalism, not in an aesthetic sense, but rather of minimal enclosure; a sense of ‘being in’ the landscape even when inside.
‘Low impact’ buildings are subservient to the surrounding nature both in distribution, materiality and use. The emphasis on seamless integration between interior end exterior spaces is accentuated by; operable walls and screens, raised split levels and non linear roof planes limiting spatial enclosure.
Existing buildings are dressed ‘down’ rather than ‘up’, concrete walls remodeled and distressed as though left abandoned for generations and rediscovered as ‘ruins’.
Situated at the epicenter of prevailing trade winds, the Seychelles saw traders from as far afield as China, Indonesia, Persia, India and Europe. The diversity of this cultural heritage has been drawn upon to inform the architectural language with particular emphasis on the maritime with interiors adopting the traditional trading items such as, Chinese silk, Persian silverware & blown glass, Indian cotton, carved ebony and precious metals of East Africa.