Posts Tagged: design

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.

Scottish Property Awards 27 February 2014

At the Scottish Property Awards with some people working on the dramatic transformation of Dundee Waterfront. It’s a project gathering momentum.Scottish Property Awards 27 February 2014As if to illustrate this, at the end of the listed awards it looked like they’d won nothing, but five minutes later there were two on the table. The transformation of the waterfront is particularly impressive as it’s only a part of the wholesale changes in the city. We often look abroad for good examples of this sort of urban renewal but there are lessons to learn closer to home. In Dundee they’ve got support for change from politicians, council officers and local investors and decades of work are coming to a conclusion.

Surprisingly radical for such a conservative looking bunch.


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.

Citizen M 15 January 2014

Citizen M in Southwark: contemporary modular hotel. Nice lobby, nice people. Stay there next time.

140114 Citizen MThe friendly barman is also a clothes designer.

140114 Citizen M

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.


Sketching in the Olympic Park

Walking round the Olympic Park with HTA Sketch Club admiring the set piece buildings and retreating to Hackney Wick for a pint and review of our work. I didn’t get much drawn but for other people’s super views of the velodrome and other sites go to:

SKMBT_C28413092508590Steve Tomlinson of the London Legacy Development Corporation showed us round.

Stratford International 2 October 2013

Back at Stratford International a week later enjoying it’s Futurist drama.

HTA Edinburgh’s Last Day in Hudson House 20 September 2013

last day in hudson house 20 September 2013Six years after moving into Hudson House we’ve grown out of it’s biggest space and it’s time to get our own place. Broughton Street is a good part of town but there’s a limit to how many people you can squeeze into the former drawing room of a New Town terraced house. Twelve is too many, I think.

Three Presentations: 3 September – 10 September

Jerome 10 Spetember 201310/9 The state we are in today: L&Q (London & Quadrant)’s Jerome Geoghegan let us in on a few stats on the state of housing in the south east. It’s ambitious stuff. I was left thinking that the UK economy has two aces: London and North Sea Oil. Is that a reason to go indepenedent or to stay unified?

Saltire Awards 9 September 20139/9 Looking Back: Lesley Riddoch handing out the Saltire Housing Design Awards at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. A couple of years ago these were often for second homes! For me, the cream of this years less divisive crop was:

Grow yur own home 3 Spetember 20133/9 Looking Forward: HTA’s ‘Grow-Your-Own-Home’ is shorlisted in the Sunday Times Home of the Future Competition. You can vote for it (or one of the others) here:

If we win it, they’ll build it.



11/9 Having breakfast in Hoxton, a chance to reflect on the above. My reflection is: it’s all very well listening to people talking about stuff, but I better go and do some work.

Ash Gupta and brave designers 14 August 2013

SKMBT_C28413081512360The original mini weighed 617kgs, the new one weighs 1510kgs. Lighter cars perform better so that’s fifty years of car industry design development heading in the wrong direction. I met Ash on the train and we talked about designers who are brave enough to imagine how technology can change the way we live, for the better.

Disruptive technology is what the digital camera was to the film camera, and what the electric car might be to the internal combustion engine. Ash now markets disruptive technology:

He is now part of the launch of BMW’s electric ‘i3’, getting the car industry back on track perhaps. Antonio Sant’elia would be proud.