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Helen Needham, oakwrights architectural designer

HELEN NEEDHAM - DESIGN MANAGER

HELEN HEADS UP THE OAKWRIGHTS DESIGN TEAM OVERSEEING ALL WORK STAGES SHE ALSO SPECIALISES IN PRE-APPLICATION AND PLANNING APPLICATIONS

 

Helen Needham, the Oakwrights Architectural Department Manager, qualified as an Architect in 2008. Having gathered over 15 years of architectural experience, Helen has discovered that her vocation lies in the designing of oak framed houses. Originally from a farming background in Lincolnshire, she studied at Brighton University, where she gained a BA (Hons) degree, and Postgraduate Diplomas in Architecture, Management, Practice, and Law, with RIBA Parts I to III. She has worked for architectural practices in Lincolnshire, Devon, London, Sussex, and Surrey; joining Oakwrights in Hereford as the In-House Architect in April 2015.

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN EXPERIENCE

 

Helen has acted as the Project Architect for many developments, with contract sums ranging from £30,000 to £3,000,000; having enjoyed working through all stages, from meeting the client to handing over the keys and aftercare. Her early works involved alterations, renovations, and extensions to listed buildings and churches. She developed a particular interest in designing both new houses for self-builders and residential masterplans and commercial properties for property developers. She has designed a number of bespoke commissions including church chandeliers, a Scout tee pee, swimming pools, a theatre stage set, Devon cob, and local Lincolnshire ‘mud and stud’ extensions. Helen oversees all work stages, although she specialises in pre-application and planning application; bringing in the frame and encapsulation design concept at the very early stages; she hand sketches, using Adobe Photoshop, and draws in AutoCAD

THE OAK FRAME DESIGN CONCEPT 


‘I am often the first point of contact between the Oakwrights In-House Architectural Department and our clients. This allows me to get to know the clients project brief well; visiting a site during these early stages also helps to source concept inspiration and allows me to get a good feel for the amount, size, and scale that may be possible in Planning ‘massing’ terms over a site. It helps to confirm the design style to pursue by respecting the local vernacular. We indeed have to work in accordance with national, regional, and local Planning policy and often work alongside planning consultants in order to adhere to these guidelines. ’

Helen Needham, oakwrights architectural designer and team leader
featured designs by helen
a former quarry site for development

DESIGN CASE STUDY

 

The site of the former quarry at Ropley, Alresford, in East Hampshire provided a really interesting and brilliantly challenging base and terrain to work with. The design team worked hard together to establish an appropriate and sensitive masterplan of eleven new houses and garages. The existing varied site levels were considered very carefully before we formed the proposal. We worked with these where possible, and in some areas proposed to re-sculpt the setting; all in order to allow good road access and entry into the site, and level platforms for the houses, alongside advice from Highways consultants. Stepped gardens, where steep escarpments currently belong, with carefully designed planting by the landscape gardener. By re-sculpting the large cliff-like faces, we have been able to allow more light into the site and create levels for a varied green landscape context where we are to use local and flourishing planting. We also worked alongside ecological consultants to create and encourage a ‘wildlife corridor’ through the site. A strong masterplan developed, working with the existing geology. We considered how the houses relate to each other in terms of their materials and form and also to the land itself. Also, much consideration was given internally as to how the occupiers would arrange their furniture and live in the spaces.

'MY PASSION IS TO MEET CLIENTS, GET TO KNOW THEM TO FORM THEIR BRIEF, AND ULTIMATELY TO PRODUCE A DESIGN THAT MEETS THOSE NEEDS.'

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a new oak framed house in france

A NEW HOME IN FRANCE

 

‘I was given the brilliant challenge of visiting this stunning site and designing a new house in the beautiful South of France for a lovely couple. My travels to the village in the Ceret valley focused and inspired my design thinking for this scheme. The low pitched canal rouge tiled roofs and strong use of warm local stone and slender red tiled quoins and detailing inspired the forms that developed over the site. Watching the sunrise and sunset over this dramatically sloping site with mountain backdrops also confirmed the positions of private and living areas and the terraces created at different levels throughout the buildings. The visit allowed me to consider the proportions and placing of openings. The bold use of cornflower and French blues inherent to the area were integrated into the final design through door and window frames and traditional style French shutters. My colleague, David Bryan, used this information to produce a wonderful three dimensional design model. ’

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