For over 20 years, The American Institute of Architects UK Chapter Excellence in Design Awards programme has proven highly valued by architects, with previous winners including Haworth Tompkins, Wilkinson Eyre, David Chipperfield and Zaha Hadid.
We spoke to MeMalondon, architectural studio based in London with projects across the UK and Turkey, about their Salamander project, which was shortlisted.
How did you come up with the idea for Salamander?
The project is a small-scale, custom-designed structure with tailored architectural elements for Kerem, a 3-year-old who identifies himself as ‘Salamander’. His playful self-identification shaped the design decisions and Salamander has become the embodiment of Kerem’s actions such as walking, swinging, climbing, hiding, jumping and sliding. The long and narrow path and the cylindrical grid of the treehouse offer him freedom of play and confidence of hiding.
Why did you choose the materials of timber and steel?
The project is a composition of timber and steel and has been designed to be fabricated in a local woodshop to dismantle and reassemble in situ. Salamander is an outcome of carefully considered topics such as sense of place, know-how, plasticity and materiality along with the functional project requirements and delivered by a team of designers and local craftspeople.
Why did you choose this project for the AIA UK awards?
Our Turkish and UK heritage is really important to us and we wanted to recognise it through the awards. It’s always reflected in our work. Salamander not only communicates our architectural language which started in Istanbul and has adapted to North London’s rich urban culture, but also encourages us to work harder and to engage in future projects that have a wider impact.
What’s your favourite feature of Salamander?
Our design has created a characterful play area with high-quality material, circled around the lime trees, which are not only invaluable to the clients but also inspire the central design concept of the project, ‘entanglement’.