A relaxing week in Jersey. We explored a bit, ate well, and learned about the history from before the tax haven days and before the World War Two occupation. Pirates and smugglers everywhere.That’s what it felt like, but it looks more like this:
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.
So 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. Round the corner in Let Me Eat, it’s the same faces every day. What could you do with that?
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.I’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.
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…
At the launch of the ULI’s design guide for Build-to-Rent.It’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?
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. The 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.
The spectacular interior of the British Library. It’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.
Thanks for any further contributions.
In a couple of months, this is going to be Quartermile’s best new bar, bringing some new life to the central square. I 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. I had two pints of Titanic Plum Porter, no darts. Off to Pangbourne the next day.
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.As 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.
The 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.The train home from Brighton after the CIH conference after talking about institutional private rent, a part of the answer.This 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.