Considering the Life Cycle of My Current Project


Image Reference: “Design For Cyclability” Lecture

We were introduced to The Ted Ten Life Cycle during our lectures, and at the same time I was just being introduced to the first project in my course this year.


Image Reference: – 02/01/2014,, website

Greenwich was given as our location, and we were broadly asked to design an “Architectural Device” for a site of our choice in Greenwich.  Basically, my design composes of a small scale space for a child, enclosing a basin of water that fills and empties according to the changes in tidal level in the river Thames. The object of the space is to help the child, who is afraid of water, become more comfortable with it and even begin to find its slow rhythmic movements soothing. I guess it could be considered a therapeutic space. As this project has developed I have revisited the life cycle to assess the sustainability of my designs and highlight areas that I can improve on whilst still in the design process. I am nearing completion of this project and have again been thinking about the life cycle of my design.

Some areas of the life cycle are perhaps less relevant for this project, such as Packaging and Transportation and Manufacturing, but I made notes about the stages that do apply to my design.


I have been careful to select natural and renewable materials. I propose to use native English Yew timber, for the main constructed elements of the build. Yew timber has many knots, and this means that much of the timber extracted from a Yew tree can be disregarded as unusable. I however would like to embrace the grains within the wood, and enhance them to create richly interesting surfaces. As a result I could potentially build using only the wood that would otherwise have been wasted, and reduce the need to cut down more trees. I would ensure that I sourced the wood from an FSC certified supplier, and ensure that for all trees cut down, new saplings were planted. By using Yew wood I am reducing the need to import materials as it can be easily grown in Britain. In order to protect the wood against the elements, and from the water inside the structure, I would choose not to treat it toxic chemicals or sprays, and instead use the traditional method (taking models from history) of coating the wood with natural linseed oil, which proves just as effective. The water in the basin is naturally supplied by the Thames. Building a timber frame, and the fact that my design is on a very small scale, about the size of a small garden shed, I would be able to utilise slotting joints, and avoid the need for materials like concrete.


Upon considering the level of use and length of use of my proposal, I realised that as a space designed to rehabilitate the child and help him adjust to the experience of water would not need to last for years and years as many architectural structures do, but rather a month or so. This meant I could reduce the amount of materials I needed to use and simplify my design by considering it only needed to last a short amount of time. I was able to reduce the thickness of timber required, and eliminate eliminate the need for reinforcement materials like steel.


This was an important consideration. Having noted that my design would be relatively short lived, I new I needed to create an after use plan so that the materials I had used would not go to waste. The structure is located in Greenwich park. The public use of the park and the surrounding natural, green open spaces inspired me to make the plan to re construct the timber into low level fencing, enclosing the water basin that could act like a pond. The remaining timber could be used to make benches, and raised beds in which to grow small scale produce like herbs, vegetables and of course flowers. It could be a community based project promoting a DIY approach to growing your own food and sourcing local produce.


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