Saturday, October 1, 2011

LONDON - piccadilly circus site survey and cad capture

Spending 2 years 1997-1999 in London as a contracts architectural technician was an incredible experience. My third contract in London was at an advertising agency that specialized in retail upgrades. This was to set me up for a new found passion for measuring and capturing on cad old buildings. It gave me an appreciation for architecture one can only get through actually measuring, surveying and draughting existing old buildings. To measure and capture 2 entire blocks of historic London on cad. my job over 18 months was to measure the London pavilion and the trocadero's floor layouts and then measure and draw up all the elevations facing, Shaftesbury avenue , Rupert street. Great windmill street and Coventry Street. I spent most lunch breaks sitting on the steps of Piccadilly Circus soaking up the fast paced energy of London. I was left to spend the mornings measuring the labyrinths of the buildings, all the floors and all elevations and then the afternoons capturing my survey on cad in the office. I found the British sense of humor brilliant; even at times when it was directed at me. When I have a number 1 haircut my hair grows into a ridge in the middle so thanks to Paul I got the nickname Rhodesian ridgeback.

The sections where the hardest because all the buildings did not sit exactly at the same floor heights. This part of the puzzle was really difficult to figure out. It was a straight 18 month task with much needed holidays spent in Spain and Portugal. I measured from below the basement where I encountered huge London rats to the very top floor of the trocadero. I really enjoyed the solitude of tape measure in hand and thousands of measurements slowly bit by bit capturing the architectural survey on cad. The agency did recruit help from time to time for short contract work which was most welcome as the task was a huge one. Eventually I was part of the team that designed the link walkway from Piccadilly Circus to the trocadero atrium.

this project set me up for my return to south Africa - and the measuring of many old existing buildings in and around  cape town. one of the areas i did many cad capture surveys has been the cape quarter - bo-kaap area. on the first cape quarter project i was the only architectural technician on the project. i would take my desktop computer everyday to site - set up and bang out drawings. then come back to my home office to complete other work - all the while carting my desktop up and down stairs - it was really hard work however incredibly satisfying to sit in the restuarants in the piaza and know i had been part of a team that created someting as special as the cape quarter. i also did all the existing as built site surveys on my own for the second cape quarter project. however the developer by then had secured enough funds to employ an entire team of architectural technologists. so my draughting input during the initail design phase was exciting. however during the build phase many hands made lite work.  i worked for chris brown and assoc amd propfin on this project. eventually compiling over  900 drawings for this exciting project. 

i have measured and captured many old buildings in cape town since then - on my own mostly. I really enjoy this task of unpacking the old girls. so with my worker overalls on and tape measure in hand slowly piece together from my survey sketches and measurements the building on cad. incidently since starting the passion in mid 1997 i have worn out 13 tape measures - kaput. i dont use modern technology i prefer measuring myself - this allows to to really understand the nuances of the old buildings.