Posts Tagged: architecture

On the Saltire Awards Judging Tour – 29 May 2013

“Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.” Point number 26 in Bruce Mau’s fairly reliable Manifesto ( People do though and let’s hope it’s not too bad an experience. The Saltire Society is quite rigorous in it’s judging process, and we travel round to see everything we shortlist. Here’s what I saw this year (it’s not all of them). The meeting to try to work out what wins is in a couple of weeks so this is just my (edited) view.

Argyle Street & Shaftesbury Avenue: Argyle Street29 May 2014

Moncreiff Avenue: Lenzie 29 May 2014Lenzie 2 29 May 2014 costa 29 May 2014Coffee stop

Charleston Square: Charleston Square 29 MAy 2014

Ledcameroch Crescent: bearsden 29 may 2014

North Gardner Street: North Gardner Street

1196 Tollcross Road: Loretto ARBD 29 May 2014

Commonwealth Games Village: athletes village 1 29 May 2014 athletes village 2 29 may 2014

Q10, Quartermile edinburgh 30 may 2014

St Martin’s Church: Magdalene Drive 30 May 2014

A panel from diverse backgrounds discussing the qualities of this diverse bunch:indigo yard 29 may 2014 The whole shortlist is here: The winners are announced in July.

Designs the Londoners Love – 29 April 2014

Sitting outside St Paul’s with HTA Sketchclub looking at two designs the Londoners love.


People tell me two things about St Paul’s: ‘it’s not really a dome’ and ‘imagine how amazing it was to see this 400 years ago’. It might be less awe inspiring to our eyes, but bathed in westerly sunlight on a spring evening it’s certainly arresting.

That’s my Brompton, a three speed, no titanium. I love Brompton: British manufacturing based on the continuous refinement of an inspired design. London congestion on a tube strike day is a reminder that we’d make much better places if we designed them around the bike: less pollution, better health, quicker travel, less expense, more space to do interesting things with rather than just park cars.

We’re working on it.

Drawing and Painting at the Architecture Club – 28 April 2014

These people are talking about how important drawing is for designers.

Architecture Club 28 April 2014Will Alsop and George Saumarez Smith did some actual drawing.  I enjoyed the stories from James Stirling’s office and the extracts from Ken Shuttleworth’s sketch book of the month.

will allsopWill Alsop was quite late, but was the most comfortable with an anecdote. Inspired by such high achieving company, I popped round the corner to bona fide starchitect Renzo Piano’s colourful Central St Giles. It’s not the best thing I’ve seen from Piano, but big, mixed use and see through, perhaps he was warming up for the Shard.

Central Saint Giles 28 April 2014

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.

The Yard, Bristol 6 February 2014

Listening to the engaging Jackson telling us about this community of self build homes. It’s an inspiring story about what can be achieved when housing is designed by the people who’ll live in it.

JAckson 6 February 2014We’d like to give people more choice over what they live in without having to overcome the obstacles that these guys did. We spent the afternoon discussing how to do this in the setting of our own Hanham Hall project. A very different approach, but significantly innovative.

Scottish Parliament Lobby 4th February 2014

These people are here for the cross party cancer group. I’m not, I just sat down to sketch this interesting lobby when they began turning up, so I am happy to draw them instead.Scottish Parliament 4 February 2014 The space could feel like a theatre lobby or an airport departure lounge, but it doesn’t, it has a different atmosphere. The architecture contributes to that, but it’s largely the fact that people are here for serious business. Up in the chamber (where sketching is not allowed) they are voting Yes to gay marriage.

Architects on Sauchiehall Street 2 February 2014

Alexander Greek Thomson & Charles Rennie Mackintosh from a dry café on a soaked Saturday on Sauchiehall Street. Just how I remember it.AGT & CRM 2 February 2014I lived round here but never drew these. The art school inspires awe as much for the list of inspirational characters who’ve come out of the place as for the qualities of the extraordinary building. I spend my time drawing the Scottish Parliament now, a similarly extraordinary place, though it’s early days for it’s own list of characters.

Hanging on for Christmas 2013

Everything changes in the week before Christmas: travel is less predictable, work is what happens between nights out, there’s loads to finish and there are things to reflect on. Santa at Edi AirportSanta was in the departure lounge when my plane was on time… …nobody quite so interesting when it was delayed, in Bristol.

Bristol Airport

We won a couple of cracking jobs in the last week, setting us up nicely for next year, and adding an extra level of excitement to the Christmas party. HTA Party 2013We need to learn from those we know who are doing things well around us, like Argent at Kings Cross. They work hard to keep the place busy and bustling whilst construction is going on all around. Kings cross in winterA few of the buildings are really attractive too. This has different proportions to most office structures you see, and attractive cast columns.

JYS Tyrell 003It’s all really busy, but if you want to spin your talents into a successful business career you could do worse than look to Jackie Stewart for inspiration. This is his Tyrell 003, in which he won the Formula One World Championship 40 years ago this year.Whats next wiith Alison and sandyThen Alison, a few days past her due date, came round and we talked about far more important events all together.

HTA Sketch Club November 2013

Poetry Library 22 November 2013This is from the steps of Malcolm Fraser’s Poetry Library, from the lottery era. The steps are for listening to outdoor poetry readings I think, but there’s not much call for that in November. It makes for an interesting raised view point.

St Pancras 27 November 2013This is pretty much my favourite place in London: the platform level of St Pancras. The platform is raised up to let the railway pass over the adjacent canal and the columns on the ground floor were set out to suit beer barrel dimensions. It was built as a proud little but of the Midlands in central London. We went with HTA’s sketch club and Peter Ctori talked us through some of the history, from an engineer’s perspective. My colleagues sketches are on


Lastly some houses in Combe Down, near Bath.

Life’s Too Short at Urban Design London – 21 November 2013

I spoke at an Urban Design London event about the fun we’ve been having designing for how people live, with Fizzy. Life, Places, Buildings, as the Scottish Government says.

Life's Too Short 21November 2013This is Fizzy’s Mark Allnutt combining a provocative presentation with a pitch for some land. James Pargeter and Rosemary Slater are listening. I’m listening too, but that’s a cracking view across the reservoir back to the city. It’s the long horizontal strip window that makes the view, but we don’t do them in housing anymore, everything’s vertical. Why’s that?

It’s time we got on with PRS, and maybe it’s time we got over the Georgian window.