Hospitality – 8 April 2014

The management of our Build-to-Rent projects will have more to do with the hospitality sector than the housing sector.  We don’t want American ‘have an awesome day’ insincerity and we don’t want the tired atmosphere characterised by a solitary bar man slowly cleaning a glass and waiting for something (anything) to happen.

Citizen M 8 April 2014So I’m paying more attention to the places I like being in. Citizen M do it all well: the design, the hospitality, the buzz. No one stays here for long though. Let Me Eat 11 April 2014Round the corner in Let Me Eat, it’s the same faces every day. What could you do with that?

Kings Cross with Louis Vuitton 9 April 2014

Sitting on the spacious terrace of Louis Vuitton’s fifth floor office space in One Pancras Square. I’ll go again when there are a few people on it. Everyone I met was French, so maybe it’s a little inclement just now.Louis Vuitton 9 April 2014I’ve enjoyed watching it going up. The columns are the striking thing about it, but it’s had an unusual quality since before they were added around the concrete frame behind. Whilst on the terrace, I didn’t have the time (or the courage) to draw them but I went back later for a closer look at one. It’s a Chipperfield design, the columns are from Hargreaves Foundry.


Kings cross in winter

December 2013

Hargreaves Foundry 28 August 2013

August 2013

kings cross 6 june 2013

June 2013

Kings Cross Construction

March 2013

SKMBT_C28412120318050November 2012

HTA Design LLP is One 4 April 2014

It’s more fun on the train when you bring the family. We all went to London to help celebrate HTA’s first birthday. The bairns got a first experience of family holidays in big cities: traipsing around, sore feet, trying to find somewhere cheap enough that we could have a meal each…

on the train 4 april 2014We visited a house with a hole in it.

portal 6 april 2014It’s a nice enough house characterised by fantastic vibrant colours, but we’re drawing up plans for it’s demolition.

JFI - 5 April 2014Innes isn’t here, he’s looking for the funny man.

Build to Rent with the ULI 2 April 2014

At the launch of the ULI’s design guide for Build-to-Rent.ULI-B2R 2 April 2014It’s a good guide. If you read it, I’d start at Chapter 6; Management as you need to understand that in order to understand the thinking in the design chapters. It’s an operator business, Build-to-Rent. There’s lots more potential investment than there is stock to invest in so there should be lots of design going on: a well-timed guide therefore.  I’ve inexplicably lost my voice and sound like the Crankies’ grandmother, which makes it difficult to describe how we’re the right people to do this design work, but I sense cracking opportunities edging closer.

The launch was in the Royal Geographic Society in Kensington. In the bits I was in there wasn’t much evidence of their fantastic heritage. Livingstone, Shackleton, Hilary, Scott: all have spoken here I was told. Maybe I could sell them some portraits?

Ian Fleming’s Retirement Lunch 28 March 2014

In Ladybank in rural Fife for Ian’s lunch. It’s a sleepy place, Ladybank, with a sense of quiet when the train leaves you standing in the station that’s reminiscent of that scene in Trainspotting. Ian Flemming's Retirement 28 March 2014The meal was fun and I enjoyed hearing about what’s made Ian’s business work well for 40 years and what it’s like to support East Fife. We started working together a decade ago on our Muirton project in Perth. It’s been a job for the famous namesakes, Muirton. We’ve had Ian Fleming, Euan McGregor, James Brown and Donald Campbell.

The drawing shows Ian talking, but looking out the window to the golf course.

British Library with HTA Sketch Club 25 March 2014

The spectacular interior of the British Library. British Library 25 March 2014It’s being observed by our own Steve Newman on the left and the building’s designer, Colin St John Wilson, in the niche on the right. The dark in the distance is a wall of books. The foyer is a surprisingly comfortable and welcoming place to sit: lots of comfortable chairs and benches in lots of different nooks and crannies.

I went with HTA’s sketch club, who’s drawings will be here (soon):

Immediately after the sketch I got ill and went off to be sick on my own in a hotel 450 miles from home. I was ill when I coloured this up and I think that’s why I avoided the buildings attractive and welcoming warm brick colours and made it so cold and grey. Apologies to the designer, who took more than enough flak for this place when he was alive.

Douglas fundraising for Sport Relief 23 March 2014

Douglas Morrison 23 March 2014Well done to nephew Douglas for raising over £100 for Sport Relief. I ran alongside, kept up until the last 200m… He’s younger than he looks (here). The fundraising page (to be updated) is:

Thanks for any further contributions.

New bar / old pub 21 March 2014

In a couple of months, this is going to be Quartermile’s best new bar, bringing some new life to the central square.  Project QM 140321I like a lot about Quartermile, and right here I like the views through the Foster glass boxes. Some of the fit-outs lose that, which is a shame, but this bar will deliver the transparent design intention with views from the street through to the public space. Michele Civiera is putting it together and it should open in the summer.

Glassy new bars seem right for modern eating and drinking habits; old pubs less so. Wandering about Reading on a sleepy Tuesday night I came across the Nag’s Head. Everywhere I’d wandered past had that dull, empty feel you’d expect of old man’s pubs on a Tuesday night in Reading. This place was thriving: darts and real ales the focus.Nags Head 18 March 2014 I had two pints of Titanic Plum Porter, no darts. Off to Pangbourne the next day.

Low cost housing at the House of Lords 13 March 2014

From the terrace of the House of Lords, our man Mike De’Ath launched the Housing Forum’s report into how to better provide low cost housing.House of Lords 13 March 2014As he talked about it I was thinking ‘what’s more important than this?’.  A society that has some making huge capital gains on rising house prices whilst others can’t afford to either rent or buy is a divided society heading for disruption.

Berkeley Group in the pubThe night before I stayed locally and bumped into some folk from the Berkeley Group in a bar on the Thames, beneath some unashamedly unaffordable housing. I knew Berkeley were ahead on customer service, but nice of them to go to the length of filling the pub in their development with their own friendly staff. The characters of the people matched their brand differentiation too.Brighton Train 5 MarchThe train home from Brighton after the CIH conference after talking about institutional private rent, a part of the answer.Kings Cross 5 March 2014This my view of London as I arrive. It’s the capital of the world now, or so I’m told. About 80% of the new jobs created in the UK in the last few years were in the south east, but I’m sure a good proportion of the other 20% is people servicing the London economy from the rest of the UK, like we do. If a twin track housing market with the majority priced out is divisive, a twin track economy is equally so.

House of Lords 13 March 2014House of Lords 13 March 2014

Innes & Pharrell 8 March 2013

Here’s Innes flat out on the couch after an afternoon flat out on his scooter chasing after big brother.Innes & Pharrell 8 March 2014

He finds it exhausting keeping up with his siblings, but it is, and always has been:

My sister Flora has put together a book on my great aunt Christina’s time on the Western Front in the first world war. It contains characterful portraits from my great uncle Barr’s sketch book. The portraits are of the men he fought alongside and the notes describe what happened to them.

It’s for sale in Waterstones, or here: