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Showcase 2021 Student Spotlight: Olivia Witcomb

Student Spotlight featuring BA Interior Architecture and Design student, Olivia Witcomb, and her project, Studio Bestir.

Studio Bestir by Olivia Witcomb

BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design

BESTIR (verb)- provoke + stir + animate + stimulate

Over the past year the world has been dealt the unfortunate task of coping with the devastating effects caused by Covid-19. An estimated 234,400 Independent businesses have been forced to close shop, with a large percentage of their valued customer base having been left either out of work or restricted to working remotely, in environments that are unsuitable, uninspiring, and often without access to outdoor space. Studio B aims to provide a point of recovery for the people of Nottingham, offering a stimulating and inclusive environment for people to work, connect and create. Equipping the community with an option B regarding their choice of work environment.

The proposal curates the hybridisation of independent business’ Allan Buxton Animating Studio and Blend Coffee shop, through a scheme that naturally cultivates a strong symbiotic relationship by which the brands can support and elevate one another post-Covid. In order to guarantee the success of the design, Studio B combines Allan Buxton’s Creativity and individuality to inspire the user, with Blend’s beneficial coffee shop work culture, to motivate and provide opportunities for networking and connection.

However,­­ in order to offer functionality and comfort for the user, the adoption of co-working spaces into the design supplies a secondary support to the unorthodox alliance. Particularly important due to the schemes emphasis on it being a public front for the brands, yielding Blend Coffee with a broader customer base to voice their honest and organic brand personality, along with providing Allan Buxton not only with a space to teach their art, but offer a private studio specifically for client interactions.

The studio is situated in 9-11 Beck Street, within the St Ann’s council boundary, just east of Nottingham’s City centre. The surrounding context, including the NTU confetti building of creative technologies, and its neighbour the Antenna building, promises an abundance of creatives, students and workers to appreciate and make use of the space.

The site profoundly influenced key themes within the concept, one being slotting, following how the site sits within its context. The second primary design point is Filtering, something that creates common ground between the brands, whether that be the filtering of coffee or image. Slotting and Filtering are particularly evident in the schemes Focus space; a large timber rooftop extension clad with a rich black Shou Sugi ban timber panelling, seen to slot into the building’s existing pitched roof. Glulam columns slot into the space, extending down to the ground floor, acting as supports to the cantilevering end of the structure. Other features include the overhead timber strip that bleeds out to slot around the window seat and skylight, along with a panel that wraps around the corner window to filter light in and views out.

The space has been designed for Blend’s coffee bar, with an open style coffee counter to inform an honest connection between the process and the user. The outdoor seating space includes a water feature for Rainwater harvesting, inspired by the process undertaken in order to produce a cup of coffee, along with views over Nottingham­. This allows the user ‘to watch the world go by’, a quote taken from Blend regarding their current café space, therefore ensuring the user can appreciate the product in an environment that Blend intended to be.

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