The Intern XIII: Roofs & Rendering

Thursday, 13th March 2014

David Weir Architects

Mosman Park, Western Australia, Australia


We're thirteen editions into THE INTERN Writing Series, and I've decided to drop the ": Part". We're minimising the complexity of the title and flinging it straight to the modern architecture era. Next edition will feature a cantilevered box off the T letter-bar and an all-glass façade. All titles will now have a little tagline describing what the entry is mostly covering. It adds a bit of unique flair to it all; I love unique flair.

Welcome back. This week at DWA, Thursday was not full of gun fights, explosions or saving Presidents - we save that for the Tuesdays. Thursdays are fully dedicated to the technical craft of architecture. Drawings, renderings, models; all those things that you may think we do all the time. In fact, an architecture firm (at the very least, a small one) is 80% administration, 20% architecture, and 100% emails all the time. Emails are always flying in and we're throwing them back out as fast as we are able to. The joys of enterprise!

Roof plan example. Source: monsefdesign

Our first task for the day: roof plan. A roof plan exists not only to assist the builder in actually constructing it (and not just doing whatever they please), but in the development application stage, it's there to show the a) design; b) structure; and c) where rainwater will flow. Water is extremely heavy, and buildings that can't get the water off the roof tend to have major issues. We're on it!

Too bad David didn't tell me that working out roof plans on colonial-style Australian homes is like being stabbed by a hundred people with a hundred knives each, at the same time. At first I assumed it was naivety, but it was beginning to send Dave crazy. Ridges and peaks and falls. Weird geometries. Misinterpreted draughtsperson plans. Google Earth. Coffee. I have never wanted to combust an object with such ferocity and frustration before in my life. And that was only the first part.

The client is requesting a "de-colonialised" roof. Sounds easy? My solution was to knock the whole roof away and replace with a perfectly flat parapet roof. Who needs to drain water, anyway? We're currently in an infinite drought - what you're doing is flushing liquid gold down the drains! Convincing this client with my infallible logic will be a difficult task.

Dave's natural habitat.

Lunch was courtesy of Subway® - EAT FRESH™, where I pulled out my university work for Dave to critique and mark up. It's important to let a fresh pair of eyes take a look at your work every so often in each phase of the design to pick up inadequacies and idiosyncrasies that you wouldn't have otherwise noticed. This studio places heavy emphasis on the documentation stage of architecture, and thus requires a level of resolution similar to a Development Application stage by Week 5. Torture. There are a few things that Dave liked about it, but there were many aspects where it could be done a little different in order to benefit many variables - client, construction, aesthetics, design. As a student, you should be receptive to constructive criticism, especially when it comes from an educated source. Take it on board and utilise it however you please. Just don't take it to heart. I learned that a long time ago.

The afternoon was occupied by a new project that DWA is working on, of which I am not at liberty to discuss - gag orders! We're currently working on DA plans and a sketch-up rendering for presentation, and when changes are made to the AutoCAD plans, the Sketchup model needs to reflect that. Enter intern. Each window and door in Sketchup is set up as a component that you can edit into without affecting the rest of the model. There are things I'm still learning in Sketchup - such as, making sure to hit the MAKE UNIQUE command. I don't want to get into details regarding how many times I didn't do that, causing myself to chase my own tail a few times. The skills are improving, and that comes with time, experience and practice.

Delicious plexiglass.

At the end of the day, I felt like there was a delicious layer of architectural sludge on my body - this is what happens when you're hard at work in the office for a day. Some days, you feel fantastic and you can go for another twelve hours. Other days, you're ready to call it a day and retire back to your comfy bed and sleep forever. There are many ups and downs, but there's one thing for certain: there is never a boring day. Every day presents itself with a new challenge, a new project, a new idea. Keep it fresh and keep it exciting. Dave and Lauren are well aware of my ability to find excitement in anything I do - receipt filing has never seen such enthusiasm before.

Next Thursday will be a day without architecture; I have seven meetings this week alone, not to mention the usual contact hours, coursework, and everything else that seems to pop up out of nowhere. Next weekend, UWA is playing host to the Presentation To Jurors for the WA Architecture Awards. I'll be there all day and will unofrtunately be missing out on the Sandcastles Competition at City Beach that MERGE will be running. I want the beach and sunshine, but instead I'll be listening to presentations all day by nominated architects. Doesn't sound so bad, after all.

I'll also be reviewing the way that I write THE INTERN Writing Series. I feel that a change is in order, whether it's just this week's change of the writing title, or a massive overhaul. I do quite a bit of work for The ALVA Society and for SONA and the AIA WA Chapter that I don't have an avenue to discuss here. We'll see how things pan out, and I'll work something out in the next few weeks.

After all, you'd love more of my enthralling writing, right?