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20 VIEWS


Open-plan kitchen/living space at country house, Berkshire


ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT BREXIT OR OPTIMISTIC?


I think it is not healthy or even possible to worry about something that as yet is so undefined, both in terms of outcome and in terms of impact. Some of the biggest challenges from Brexit have come to pass in the uncertainty that the process has created, and the ripples of this uncertainty will stay with us for some time. What the industry needs is clarity – and for better for worse, bringing the process to a close is more important than outcome. The inevitable, ‘post-apocalyptic’ future that awaits us will be our new reality, and our challenge is to make sure that what we do and how we do it remains relevant and engaging long into the future.


WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT FAVOURITE MATERIAL FOR USE IN DESIGNS? I think time and time again we come back to timber. It is hugely flexible as a structural material as much as it is as a finish. With so many species in so many cuts and grains and the possibility to apply techniques and processes that can re-invent the surface completely, the opportunities are endless. At a conceptual level, I also love the way that a tree is infinitely divisible, from log to plank, to block, to veneer and then down to dust – each stage of the division process has a part to play in the building process. If managed


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


correctly and grown sustainably along with intelligent re-use and reclamation in situ, there is very little waste and that is good sense for everyone.


WHAT CAN DESIGNERS WORKING ON PROJECTS IN LONDON LEARN FROM OTHER CITIES & URBAN DESIGN? The most important lesson we can all learn from other cities is a conscious awareness that what happens in London is not normal; there is no normal. It is easy to fall into the reality trap that our approach to life, or our understanding of space is somehow universal or correct. That simply isn’t true and the only way to truly engage with the lessons afforded by other cities is to immerse yourself in alternative realities – a reality without cars, or without glass or without water. If we ask ourselves how we might solve the puzzles we encounter here, through the eyes of multiple cultural frameworks, the answers are invariably richer and surprising.


HOW CAN YOU SEE AN ARCHITECT’S ROLE CHANGING IN THE NEAR FUTURE?


The erosion of the role of master architect of the past has been dramatic and severe. More and more, we see architects now engaged in the process of delivery and technical compliance, divorced almost


Riverside penthouse, London


entirely from the creative process. A shift in focus away from big vision architecture and towards the interior veneer at one end – and delivery at the other – has left architecture without a seat at the table. If we are to solve some of the biggest questions facing the country around housing and how our cities function, we must find a way to re-frame our work, at every scale, to address more than just image or commercial value. Good architecture can provide an answer to both these problems, but the best architecture can provide so much more.


DO YOU HAVE ANY BIG SPECIFIC GOALS THIS YEAR?


As a team we are going through a process of re-imagination, as a direct response to what we see is the shift in the perceived value architects add to the construction process. As a practice we promote excellence at every stage of the project and in everything we do. So, turning our skills inwards to design not only beautiful buildings, but also elegant processes to create those buildings, has been an exceptionally rewarding process. This year I hope to see the impact of that work to learn from the implementation process and create a direct feedback loop for learning and design, constantly redefining not only what we do, but also how we do it. 


ADF DECEMBER 2018


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