New iron gates for St George's, Woolwich

Manifest are delighted to have been selected to design a new set of iron gates for St George's Garrison Church in Woolwich (east London), following a competition organised by the Heritage of London Trust Operations.

The inspiration behind the design is the poem In Flanders Field by Lt. Col. John McCrae, which describes the poppies growing between the crosses marking the graves of the fallen. It also describes the larks singing and flying in the sky above the guns below. The poem, and the poppy it describes, have since become the remembrance symbol for soldiers who have died in all conflicts.

Consequently, the decoration of the base of the gates is conceived as an architectural ‘trophy’, incorporating the 9lb gun from the Royal Regiment of Artillery’s Cap Badge. This together with the crown, and the regiment’s motto Ubique ('everywhere') acknowledges the church’s historic links with the Regiment.

Above this, the design diffuses into a wild flower ‘meadow’ composed of poppies, cornflowers and forget-me-nots. Poppies are widely recognised as the remembrance flower of the Commonwealth Countries, whereas the cornflower or ‘Le Bleuet de France’ is the national symbol of remembrance in France.  The forget-me-not is the (unofficial) symbol of remembrance in Germany.  In this way, the composition acknowledges the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War (and the first Armistice Day) in 2018; and that whether friend or foe, every life lost is worthy of remembrance.

Towards the top, two gilded larks will be concealed in the foliage – something that it is hoped visiting school groups might enjoy looking for, and which will enable the gates to be used as a teaching resource and engagement with local schools.

The Architecture of the Poetic Universe

Written by director Hugh Conway Morris and published by The Onslaught Press, this book is presented as a "manifesto for Manifest": a book of thinking through a theology of nature, the place of humanity within the natural world, and how architecture presents a unique opportunity for us to live in harmony with sacred Creation.  The book was launched at the University Church of Oxford, St Mary the Virgin, on Saturday 20th May, with guest speaker Rev. Dr David Neaum of St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

The book is now available to buy in hardback for £35.00 + p&p.  Copies are available directly from Manifest Design Workshop (follow the "Contact Us" tab to request a copy), or from The Onslaught Press's online bookshop.

The Architecture of the Poetic Universe will receive a review in the forthcoming Autumn edition of the SPAB Magazine.

Pastel shelves

In order to boost storage space in this small Oxford room, we carried out a fitted piece of furniture, scribed against the uneven wall surface and over the existing skirting boards.  Blue painted uprights in whitewood, shelves in specially-milled southern yellow pine for extra deep sections.  The pastel shades are from Earthborn paints - given two coats to allow the grain of the timber to shine through.

Rooms Lined with Books

Manifest received this commission to line an upstairs room with fitted bookshelves, with an integrated desk and cupboards.  Works were carried out to scribe the timber over the uneven 1920s plastered walls, dealing with uneven ceilings and floors along the way.  In the downstairs sitting room, we then fitted full-height shelves to either side of the chimney breast, shaping carefully around pipes and cables to create units of the highest quality.

Fitted Wardrobes in Oxford

While Manifest Design Workshop are specialists in traditional oak structures, our experience in scribed work lends itself well to fitted timber furniture in old houses.  This work, carried out for a private client in Oxford, placed two bespoke wardrobes in a Victorian terraced house, working with a room in which nothing was square, or level, or plumb.  Designed and made by Manifest, originally designed details were carried through for this unique location in natural and low-impact materials: joinery-quality whitewood, natural paints and birch-faced plywoods.

Oak Garden Structure in Wiltshire

Built for a private client, this is a deceptively simple green oak frame, designed by Nick Cox Architects and crafted by Manifest Design Workshop in the traditional scribed manner.  Using English-sourced oak of the highest quality, the design also comprises a herringbone ceiling in Siberian larch.  The structure provides a covered walkway between two listed buildings, and is worked to the very tightest of tolerances.

Summerhouse in Cambridge

Built for a private client, the Cambridge Summerhouse is constructed from Western Red Cedar and roofed with cedar shakes.  Its octagonal floor plan allows it to communicate with the garden's many different areas and characters, echoed in its helical roof structure overhead which brings the building coiling down, lying close to the earth.  Where the helix wraps over itself, the resulting gap is glazed, shedding high-level light into the depths of the building.

Straw Bale House in Hampshire

Manifest Design Workshop recently received planning permission for a new load-bearing straw-bale and cob dwelling in rural Hampshire.  The design comprises an internal softwood timber frame, with double height spaces in an octagonal plan.  All materials and build-ups are rigorously designed to be fully breathable and hygroscopic, constructed of natural and beautiful materials.  Straw bales are sourced within 10 miles of the site, making this one of our most important natural buildings to date.  Works are expected to commence on site in spring 2016.

Talk at the University Church of Oxford

We're delighted to be giving a talk at the University Church of Oxford this Sunday, 13th March at 12 noon.

Join us as we discuss the nature of geometry and mathematics in medieval architecture, and the medieval minds which produced it, focussing on the University Church itself - all are welcome.

The University Church