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Dr Steve Coombs BSc BArch DipARCH RIBA

Dr Steve Coombs

BSc BArch DipARCH RIBA

Director of Undergraduate Teaching | Year 5 chair

Email:
coombss@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5972
Location:
4.19, Friary House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AE

Responsibilities

Steve is chair of MArch 2, and a research architect within the Design Research Unit Wales (DRUw).

Other responsibilities include:

  • Director of Undergraduate Teaching
  • MArch 2 unit leader
  • MArch Dissertation supervisor
  • Technology 1A module leader (BSc year 1)
  • Design and Practice Research Group member

Other information

Steve was part of the Design Research Unit Wales (DRUw) team that were runners-up in the Building Design Young Architect of the Year Awards in 2007 and 2010. Steve has experience of a wide range of projects that are based on aspects of sustainability, landscape and material innovation, while also developing a personal interest in making.

Steve completed his PhD, ‘The development of the building envelope with Welsh-grown timber: a study through prototyping’ within DRUw developing a number prototype designs including a low-energy house, environmental classroom and a stress-lam table.

I am an architect, maker, lecturer, Director of undergraduate teaching and MArch 2 Year Chair at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. I have experience of a range of projects based on aspects of context, material innovation, craft and making. Evolving from a variety of different perspectives and disciplines, my research, and teaching is primarily focussed on the field of construction and materiality, tectonics and the art of making, often in collaboration with industry and other specialists. These research topics include: Critical studies in tectonic form, materials and technique; Contemporary design with homegrown timber; Modern Methods of Construction (MMC); Sustainable design and design guidance.

I completed my PhD, ‘The development of the building envelope with Welsh-grown timber: a study through prototyping’ within Design Research Unit Wales  (DRUw) developing a number prototype designs including a low-energy house, environmental classroom and a stress-laminated table. As well as designing and building a number of prototypical structures, I have won a number of design competitions including the inaugural Eisteddfod Architecture Pavilion, 2012, my work has been exhibited in the 09:09 exhibition at Howard Gardens, the Architecture Centre, Bristol and most recently Ruthin Craft Centre. In 2018, my research into the use of Welsh-grown timber won the Design and Technology category at the RIBA Presidents Awards for Research and was published in the Journal of Architecture (web link included in section 8).

My teaching is focussed on ‘Craft: making meaning’ working with year 2 and year 5 students to develop a stance on craft, making and materials leading to innovative and speculative architectural proposals.

I was part of the (DRUw) team that were runners-up in the Building Design Young Architect of the Year Awards in 2007 and 2010.

2015

2012

2011

2009

2008

  • Jones, M. R.et al. 2008. Zero carbon by 2011: delivering sustainable affordable homes in Wales. Presented at: PLEA 2008: 25th Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Dublin, Ireland, 22-24 October 2008 Presented at Kenny, P., Brophy, V. and Lewis, J. O. eds.Towards Zero Energy Buildings - Proceedings of PLEA 2008. Dublin: University College Dublin

Research interests

Steve is actively engaged, and publishing from, design research within DRU-w covering topics of sustainability, landscape and material innovation, while also developing a personal interest in making. Evolving from a variety of different perspectives and disciplines, his research, and teaching is primarily centred on the field of construction and materiality – tectonics and the art of makin. Often in collaboration with industry and other specialists, these research topics include:

Critical studies in tectonic form, materials and technique; Contemporary design with homegrown timber; Modern Methods of Construction (MMC); Sustainable design and design guidance.

Over the last decade Steve has been working closely with the Welsh timber industry, on the use of home-grown Welsh timber in contemporary architecture through innovating, developing and prototyping timber construction methods. His collaboration has involved working with a wide range of disciplines to develop a value added architecture led by craft, performance and sustainability. As project architect, his research has led to a range of innovative projects, from visitor centres to smaller scale prototypes and experiments, that are informed by context, form, sustainability, detail and cost. He is previously lead a Technology Strategy Board funded research project on the award winning low cost Sitka spruce social housing system, Ty Unnos, that has lead to projects for a low energy house, classroom, exhibition pavilion, visitor centre and cycling centre. Further projects include:

Prefabricated, zero carbon, social housing schemes as part of a Welsh Assembly funded research project to evaluate and develop Modern Methods of Construction in Wales that also led to the development of a Welsh manufactured timber closed panel system; The concept design of Margam Discovery Centre, an environmental demonstration and accommodation building in a Grade I listed landscape at Margam Country Park that used timber volumetric pods to increase quality and reduce costs and timescales; and Furniture as prototypes for larger construction methods, or as experiments in the modular and efficient use of off-the-shelf timber products. In 2007, Steve was invited to be on the panel of judges for the Estonian timber architecture award as part of the Interreg III C Network project GATE (Gaining Added value for Timber in Europe). He has presented reports and papers on timber cladding and construction at conferences and seminars by Wood Knowledge Wales, BRE Wales, WRAP and RSAW. In 2009, with DRU-w, he won the Cardiff University Innovation Award and the Architecture & Surveying Award from the Chartered Institute of Building for early research and development on a low-tech, modular and recyclable, Sitka spruce construction system for affordable, rural housing.