Collaboration as the Modern Craft

Collaboration is ever more necessary to overcome the challenges that an architect faces in the modern world. Laura Esperidón Parres, TMA alumni and now teacher of Arts & Crafts at Colegio de Fomento Altozano, Alicante, is continuing to nurture the craft of collaboration amongst the next generation of designers.

The aim of her course is for students to work together to gain a better understanding of architecture through an examination of some of the finer historical examples. 20th Century masters – such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright – are studied and the students come together to discuss and create architectural models of their buildings that are then presented to and critiqued by esteemed professors of architecture from the University of Alicante.

Alicante school Blog Images

Left: Mirador, designed by MVRDV
Right: Leon Auditorium, designed by Mansilla and Tuñón

Alongside her explanations of the collaborative nature of an architect’s work, Laura also teaches that many of the 20thC architects did anything but collaborate, and that this independence of spirit lay behind some of our more exalted architectural heritage. It is told that tensions were stirred when Frank Lloyd Wright’s patron invited engineers to determine the structural stability of Fallingwater, and that Wright cemented their reports into the very walls of the building in his partnering kind of way. How to marry these two apparently opposing approaches is left to the students to contemplate.

What is clear is that while the 20thC architects could enjoy the luxury of architecture as a personal craft supported by wealthy patrons, the metrics of today’s architecture are often far more complex. The craft of the present day architect is in managing the complexity of today’s building technologies, funding structures and approvals processes, with collaboration between a broadly defined and closely integrated client/design team being more essential than ever.

Laura’s encouragement of the next generation to initiate, embrace and craft this essential requirement is an important first step and predicts a strong foundation for the future.

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Clarity and Abstraction

There is a widely held principle in the design of stations in London that a common theme and a clarity of purpose will provide comfort through continuity and will exemplify the brand of good public service. And there is much to be said for it. The common London Underground signage, from colour to typeface, is a much-loved classic, held up by owners and design scholars alike and appreciated by the many. British Rail had a similar standard that has largely sustained through the various manifestations of its ownership. A considerable number of consultant hours are spent each year redefining the subject, setting the rules for materials, colour and lighting in well-designed guidance documents replete with photographs of samples and architectural sketches.

Oddly however, for a system who’s primary role is to take you places, it is rare that the design of our stations reflects the place in which they sit. It is the character of the line that is important, rather than the character of the place you have come to see. And when you are in tunnel, with no connection to the outside, would that not be a distinct advantage in your wayfinding armoury?

And so it was refreshing and encouraging when Tokyo Metro set exactly that challenge – to integrate the character and qualities of the station setting with the continuity of the brand. And intriguingly they asked for the design to be described, not by the designer, but through the story of the people using the stations, through their ambition, their experience and their emotions.

So, in the deep level boxes of Aoyama-itchome, Gaiemme and Omotesando stations, we did this, and received the Excellent Design Award:

Clarity and Abstraction1

Clarity and Abstraction2

Clarity and Abstraction3

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Order and Form

Order and Form Images1

Needless to say, presenting to Tokyo Metro and being rewarded with the Excellent Design Prize was the purpose and highlight of our travels to Japan, but that’s not to say TMA didn’t take the opportunity to explore the simplicity of the architecture, the complexity of the urban realm and the quietly effective transport systems.  More of which in later posts.

Order and Form Images2

For this one we wish to draw attention to the fascination with order and form, to the delicate and controlled manner in which information is recorded and expressed, the calm visual grid, the continuity of message, the subtlety of change in repetition. It is a theme that is as true in the traditional as it is in the modern.

Order and Form Images3

And then there is the ticketing.

Order and Form Images4

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People and Awards

Construction journals and online platforms often focus on output: finished architectural wonders, impressive emerging projects or feats of gravity defying engineering. But what of the input? The women and men whose endeavours – be it in development, design or construction – ensure that these structures become so worthy of praise.

We are pleased to note that it is our staff that have been recognised recently, commended by the industry for individual exceptionalism. In light of recent and welcome studies highlighting a disturbing lack of women in construction, we’re also pleased to report that our award winning team is bucking this trend.

People4Jayne, winner of the AJ Curtins Graduate prize
People5Jayne, with John Moister (Curtins) and Will Hurst (AJ), receiving the award
JeromeJerome, in Las Vegas, receiving the Autodesk AEC Excellence Award for BIM Innovation
People7Luisa, in Tokyo, receiving the Excellent Design Award from Tokyo Metro
People8Luisa, in Tokyo, presenting TMA design proposal for three Tokyo Metro stations
WICE FinalistTrisha, Jayne and Sam who are 2017 WICE Award Finalists
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Winter Sun

At this time of year, with the sun in the sky for precious few hours, the rare occurrence of its appearance is especially welcome. From its low winter altitude, exaggerated shadows add a dramatic spatial dynamic not seen during the summer months.

Having recently been asked to photograph some of our completed projects (tirelessly monitoring weather apps for the right opportunity) we’ve been out capturing this fleeting solar phenomenon.












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A Dash of Lemon



How often we use this blog to promote the benefits of our large and prestigious projects, showing just how clever we are with our grand gestures in support of the capital’s infrastructure and our thrusting architectural responses to transport, social benefit and urban regeneration.


So it is both gratifying and humbling to wander round parts of east London and take a few arty photographs of some of our less acknowledged projects as they reach completion.

The DDA project for Docklands Light Railway is one such, where a small budget efficiently applied makes such a large difference to the accessibility of four less well known but no less important stations, and where a dash of lemon yellow and a sliver of polished stainless steel can add both quality and panache to the somewhat dreary environment.


So often we see these belated DDA insertions appear as uber-techno-modernist and thereby somewhat incongruous interventions in our stations. If, as we understand, there is to be more focus on improved access-for-all in London’s transport network this year, here’s hoping it too is designed to uplift its surroundings and be both visible and heartening to the eye.

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TMA has won the Autodesk AEC Excellence Award for Innovative use of BIM 

This week, we have been recognised at the Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards in Las Vegas, winning the Communication for Small Projects category for our work integrating health & safety and BIM.


Our award recognises the best use of Autodesk BIM technology to visually and collaboratively communicate Health & Safety risk in the design and construction process.

Developed in our role as leaders of Design & CDM in the LU Station Capacity Health and Safety Leadership Team, we are developing a Risk Information Modelling process that integrates risk data in the project BIM model, raising awareness through tangible, visual and dynamic representation. Making reference to BS1100, UK BIM Level 2 and the principles of CDM 2015 we are providing a clear direction for the use of BIM to predict, recognise, communicate and mitigate risk throughout the design and construction process. Our Risk Information Modelling employs industry standard BIM software and is being developed with multi-disciplinary input from London Underground, Balfour Beatty, Mott MacDonald and London Bridge Associates.

Jerome, who is instrumental to BIM innovation at Tony Meadows Associates, has flown to Las Vegas to collect the award and attend a weeklong conference organised by Autodesk. As a delegate, Jerome will be hearing from industry leaders and will participate in workshops exploring new uses of BIM in the architecture and construction sector.


The global recognition of the importance and value of our work is of course appreciated, and our Risk Information Modelling has also been shortlisted for a UK BIM4SME award. But we are not content to rest on our laurels. This is just the beginning of numerous TMA initiatives that are expanding the capabilities of BIM from a data capture, checking and distribution process to one that will beneficially measure change over time to a far greater degree than previously possible.

Expect more on this as it develops.


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