Resi 2016 launched into the bad news about the economy and the affordability of housing. If governments and voters are heavily indebted then why would you raise interest rates and if you don’t raise interest rates then how do people save for their old age? Some people alive now will live to 150 I was told. But I didn’t believe it.
Interesting contributions from many others.
I think the next couple of years will be about combining our off site manufacturing expertise with our Build to Rent knowledge. At the end of the day I was well looked after by the Property Week team, so many thanks to them.
Fraser is learning to play tennis. I drew Isla watching him, then she drew him, and titled it.
At an office CPD, on lighting. Not a bad one. You learn more, obviously, from seeing the things skilled designers (and their visionary clients) have actually built than you do from watching Powerpoint.
Edinburgh has an extensive stock of ageing bungalows with big back gardens and they’re gradually being bought up by young families. A roster of talented local architects can transform them by taking a bit of back garden and building the kind of bright and open living space people are after these days. Few are as lofty and light as friends Asa & Daniel’s one, by David Blaikie.
Innes (and me), learning to be gardeners.
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”.
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.
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.
Facetiming (?) the kids from St Pancras Station, and David Cameron walks into the back of the shot. I say ‘Good morning’, he says it right back. Nice enough chap, but a series of giveaway policies aren’t what we need, I think.
His right to buy policy takes us back to the eighties. Thatcher sorted out manufacturing, but only by wrecking it. We need people who can make things: take materials and add value through creativity, design and manufacture.
I spent a pleasant hour (once everyone had gone home) sketching a workshop in the excellent Smiths of Derby. Their bespoke clock making and restoring business is highly specialist but the skills needed are fantastically diverse, and hence there’s diversity in the people employed too. Smiths would get my vote.
Earlier in the week I ran 10 miles around Edinburgh and watched a motorcyclist with less interesting work to do than either Smiths or Dave are faced with.
With my colleagues for breakfast at Duck & Waffle 40 storeys up the Heron Tower. Planning the future of our business. Impressive neighbours peer in the window.
Work is busy. The weather is cold and grey. Sketching will remain an indoor activity for the next month or so. This limits any outdoor views to what’s right in front of the coffee shop window as I eat breakfast. I think this is called a TX4, from the London Taxi Company.
The weirdest way to travel remains the sleeper. In the bar at the start of the journey you can just glimpse the romance of rail travel from bygone days. Seven hours later you join the rest who’ve hardly slept to queue for a shower in Euston station.
At the Edinburgh Urban Design panel in the City Chambers. Former Provosts watch over the group to remind us to do the best for this amazing city. I’m a back seat driver on this one, so I watch David H doing his professional presentations in Edinburgh… …and on Grosvenor Street in London.
Alan Hamilton in Hemma at lunchtime.
A girl on the train back from Glasgow at 8.30pm on a Friday night.
Andrew Gillespie of the A@131 society had been kind enough to ask me along to talk about sketching to Strathclyde University students. I studied at Strathclyde so was keen to go back and they put some effort into advertising it, so it was well attended.
I hadn’t talked about my drawings before and enjoyed it a lot. It’s good spend a little time thinking about what you are trying to do, after all.
Earlier in the week, after a late Christmas do, I spent some time looking at a coffee machine: modern on the inside, classic with a hint of modern on the outside. In the design world, from suits to buildings, that’s a popular mix.
Innes and I missing the outing to the Singing Kettle. He’s on the sofa, ill, and he can’t get comfy.
No sketching allowed, no explanation given.
Sketching at the Brunswick Centre. I was going slowly so later filled the page with scenes from the Citizen M lobby, still busy around midnight.
Good foyer spaces, small but well designed bedrooms.
Watching people eating, at Kings Cross. Do you take the food to your mouth or your mouth to the food?
On the left, Leeds Town Hall designed by Cuthbert Brodrick in the 1850’s.
On the right, consultants selling their design skills in 2014. It’s interesting to hear their pitch. I want to know what they’ll do that will make our project better. Over the course of the day, only a couple of people are clear on that.