From their new bright white HQ in central London, John McAslan and his team have certainly had a busy year. While the large Kings Cross development commission is ongoing, several smaller-scale projects around the globe have been fast progressing in the past few months. Even more are currently underway; from residential to commercial, including the Energy Centres in London for the much-anticipated 2012 Olympic Games.
An extension to the Royal Academy of Music in Knightsbridge is one of John McAslan's most recent, and probably smallest, projects to reach the finish line. The extension to the Void practice rooms was a much-needed addition for the Academy and was completed at an exceptionally low cost and super-speedy construction pace.
The building completed construction within three months to minimize noise pollution and sits within a small plot, squeezed between the main RAM building, the Sir Jack Lyons theatre and the Burton Terraces, replacing an existing, older and unsuitable structure on site.
The design concept was simple; fully enveloped in bronze, it relates colour-wise to the adjacent historical brick walls, enclosing the practice rooms. It is also planned to visually evolve in time, as the metal will oxidise. Requiring minimum maintenance and being corrosion-resistant, this material solution is also a very sustainable one.
Designed for an entirely different climate and environment altogether, John McAslan's British Embassy building in Algiers was also recently inaugurated. An especially eco-sensitive project, the Embassy was designed as a series of curved parallel walls, enclosing circulation, office space and a courtyard.
The building's stone and timber-clad walls were especially designed for their low-maintenance qualities, while the building's overall orientation reduces excessive solar gain. These, in addition to its low-energy under-floor air conditioning, make it the first building to achieve an excellent rating according to the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method criteria.
However, it's not all large-scale and high-status commissions for the practice; alongside its high-profile civic and cultural projects, the team has also been working on additional pro bono and charity work, with the support of the John McAslan Family Trust. The first of a series of sustainable school buildings in Malawi opened a few weeks ago, with a further three currently in construction.
The simple structure is designed to make the most out of the country's hot climate, mainly built of wood and brick. Blurring the indoor/outdoor limits, it allows for the creation of a semi-open space for gatherings and events. The Trust is committed to the development of creative skills within young people, as well as sustainability in architecture, also granting an annual bursary for inter-disciplinary cross-community collaboration.
And, as if his prestigious projects and pro bono work was not enough to keep them going, the ground floor event space at the practice's new office off Euston Road is playing host to a series of lectures and art exhibitions. Currently on show until the 19th March is the seven artist-strong group exhibition, 'Dough and Dynamite'.