As part of our project currently on site in the Cotswolds we have been working with pre-cast stone cladding subcontractor Haddonstone (www.haddonstone .com). We recently made a trip up to their factory in Northampton to discuss detailed design and inspect the quality of the stone elements already manufactured for our project. Included in the itinerary for the day was an inspection of samples, a full factory tour, and a great pub lunch.
The tour gave us the opportunity to see the mould-making workshop, casting and pouring rooms first hand which all employ local craftsmen using traditional manufacturing techniques. As we walked around the factory we were able to engage in design discussions with the fabricators themselves – an invaluable experience for us as designers.
Factory and workshop tours are integral to revealing the fabrication process and help to broaden our understanding of the limitations of materials. This in turn helps us to ask ‘the right questions’ and enables us to push the limits of both the product and the work subcontractors are willing to undertake. The results can be really exciting and in the case of our Cotswold project have helped us to achieve a highly ambitious contemporary design.