At New London Architecture’s Thomas Heatherwick lecture: an inspiring experience. He clearly inhabits the same world of difficult sites, demanding briefs and tight budgets as the rest of us, but he manages to conjure something completely extraordinary from the same ingredients. The lecture slides are straightforward: it’s the ideas that shine through, and how they solve relevant problems.
Contemplating his amazing work and optimistic office the next morning, I wanted to draw something simple and utilitarian, to get back in touch with my own ‘reality': a truck making deliveries at St Pancras. After breakfast I headed for Hackney, expecting I’d seen enough inspiring characters for one trip, and it was time to do some real work (the protestant work ethic is never far away). Instead, I ran into Gavin Turk and talked about how you might make space for creative free thinkers in the overheated, investment focused, London property market.
Well he talked, I sketched and noted the presence of paintbrush in the hand of a YBA. I was pleased he signed my sketchbook. It says:
did not draw this”.
In Manchester discussing how devolving power to regions can lead to more effective and more appropriate solutions to the current housing crisis. Lots of support for this and lots of good ideas. I think Scottish devolution has opened people’s eyes to the benefits of local decision making but they haven’t yet experienced it’s overwhelming, empowering, energy.
Next day: Derby. We’ve started the design of Phase Two of Castleward so it’s a good time to think about the bits of Phase One that work (mixed use/ mixed tenure/ mixed typologies/ the biggest trees we’ve ever planted/ streets) and the bits that don’t. If being an architect is sometimes quite hard work, it’s all made worthwhile when you see things you imagined realised.
At an event in the Shard hearing about the power of a research, design and manufacturing based economy in the Midlands. Prosperity, creativity, enviable quality.
Jaguar CEO Dr Ralph Speth gave the keynote address. Manufacturing economies are prosperous economies when the quality of product is as high as this, and we heard about the combination of education, investment and supply chain required to operate at this level. You need a good supply of great places for people to live too, and we’d love to help with that.
I’m increasingly fascinated by design and manufacture, so I’ll ask if I can sketch the factory.
Want a (free) hug? This is outside Camden tube during a pointlessly brief trip to London.
Free Hugs is an international movement, but I haven’t spotted it in Edinburgh yet. It’s for fairly expressive people I think: a big hug with someone you’ve never met on a busy corner in London. Am I too Scottish?
Earlier in the week we went out for tea with Jonathon and Pavlina who are sadly leaving.
Now that might just be reason for a hug.
We went for a visit with HTA’s London Sketch Club and the London Society. The ‘kids’ weren’t that impressed, which certainly ups the ante next time I’m reviewing their work.
It’s a bit windy and not that warm but this could well be summer, so the real kids and I played outside whilst Julie did some shopping.
This is Cala D’Or, Mallorca.
The place is the creation of Don Jose Costa Ferrer, Don Pep, who bought the beautiful but unproductive land in 1933 for the equivalent of 80 euros. He made a masterplan, sold the plots, and designed the houses using a simple palette and sold them to his creative friends. A stone’s throw from the tourists enjoying the natural beauty of the beaches you can find the place Don Pep created. As the houses have been upgraded or replaced people have stuck to the rules he set, to their credit.
Whilst there I enjoyed cycling up to San Salvador at a bit less than half the pace of a pro, on a bashed up Pinarello.
Mostly we were swimming off the beach and…
… at Casa Binimelis.
We are sad to go home but Palma de Majorca is our new favourite airport. Grumpy reading Private Eye on the plane.
It’s the start of a new year for the business and time to look back on the last one. A weekend in sunny London spent in Clissold Park and Mike’s back garden. Me and the gang catching up with old friends and colleagues. Back in Edinburgh looking at the hard, but still attractive, Bakehouse Close. A comfortable scale of space with some nice details by Oberlanders.
Catching up with Tom and Ray at the Etape Caledonia. Tom talked me through what to do if you have a bike crash in downtown San Francisco, as he’d just done. I may have over emphasised his beat up look, but not by much. The next day we thrashed round the 81 miles in the wind and the rain. Tough if you like cycling in the sun, perfectly fine if it’s the grit in cycling that you like.
Work is about making things and sketching is about learning from some of the great things others have made. A week spent looking at inspiring and dramatic development. This is O’Donnell & Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock Building for the London School of Economics, more drama than you’d think would fit on such a tight site.
Victoria Street in Edinburgh, linking the Grass Market with George IV Bridge in spectacular fashion. A six storey pedestrian street sitting on a lower level that climbs from single storey to three storeys whilst looking like a crescent but mostly running straight. Other sketches of these two locations should be here.
Fraser watching a Dusty drama. The next few days will see drama too, as our political parties try to sort out a hung parliament. I’ve just realised that most people don’t realise that Nicola Sturgeon, the undoubted star of the whole process, isn’t actually standing. Dramatic days ahead.
Twenty eight years ago I became friends with Adam, Campbell, Ali and Kev.
I still look forward to any chance to meet up and we enjoyed a lively weekend in Newcastle. It’s fun, as well as a reminder that we are all getting on a bit. You need to exercise so I’m getting out on the bike.
Ali looking worried. His politics is SNP so in Scotland in 2015 I don’t think he has much to worry about.