With HTA sketch club looking at one of Edinburgh’s successful incidental spaces.
The biggest on the sail to Arran.
Most of our time was spent on Islay, which is a much softer variety of the Hebridean harshness I’m familiar with from time on North Uist, and mixed with an astounding world class whisky industry.
It’s a short cycle between Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Time to look out for the wildlife. Buzzards, stags, golden eagles. And geese.
Islay came up with this and a few islands further north they invented Harris Tweed. A tiny number of people producing products that are renowned the world over. In beautiful surroundings.
In Derby for work, but holiday habits are hard to kick so I popped in to have a look at Ayrton Senna’s ’93 McLaren at Donnington Park, scene of it’s finest hour.
Before that Christmas holidays and birthday parties.
For three year old Ellan…
… and my 89 year old dad. He’s forgotten a lot but we all sang songs together.
Christmas Day: mum showing her grandchildren photos of the old days.
…and talking planes with Fraser.
Waiting in China Town and sketching delivery bikes. You can’t finish them because they keep racing off at the standard speed for ‘L’ plate food deliveries: flat out.
Faster: a turntable ladder at Crewe Toll fire station. This is the highlight of Fraser’s trip with the Beavers.
I’m here because he’s been a bit ill, so I’m checking he’s alright.
They do an entertaining routine, the fireman. “Kids, the more yellow helmets at a fire, the more chance everyone gets out alive. The more white helmets, the more chance it all burns to the ground”. The bosses wear the white helmets.
On the tube, absentmindedly sketching the guy who happens to be opposite when I realise he’s wrapped his hands in a scarf so I can’t see his big tattoos. Didn’t mean to make it awkward, wish I knew what they said.
Back in Edinburgh we are moving office. I find myself in kids soft play parties looking at how they’ve done the services install. Time for a break.
On the Windermere ferry sketching a Mazda MX5 and a Renault. Imagining (well copying) Donald Campbell’s celebrated K7. We went and had a look at Coniston Water where Campbell was killed on 4th January ’67 in an attempt to break his own world water speed record.
The boys on the tablet, though most of the action was in the ‘subtropical swimming paradise’. This is the ‘hut’. J & I got ill here. Being ill at Center Parcs is about as expensive as checking in to a BUPA hospital, so we didn’t make a big deal of it.
I’ve fallen out of the habit of keeping the sketch diary up to date, the online version anyway. I’ve kept the sketch books just the same but painting the six portraits I did recently used up all my spare time. Then I cycled across France.
I had an idea that I’d go back and colour up the old sketches and up load them all here: do a catch up blog. But of course I won’t. The thing about a diary is that the keeper is only interested in recording today, not writing up the past.
… and fascinating presentations: this one by Lara Feigel on her book ‘The Bitter Taste of Victory’…
…and this one on Women in Architecture and women in HTA. In the non architectural areas of our business: planning, graphics, sustainability and landscape design the genders are balanced throughout the grades. In architecture they aren’t. Something to sort.
Over the last year, we’ve had Mike Hopkins coming in to train our management team in a few useful techniques. We’re a business run by designers so it’s good to hear how the professionals do it. Contrary to popular perception (big egos/ sensitive souls) designers don’t really need to be treated all that carefully but they are good at questioning the conventional route. Mike has a straightforward style, telling our creative team what he thinks, and this is going down well.
Getting a great guided tour around the first bespoke build-to-rent building in the UK, for be:here.
Fraser and Isla have expertise too. Here they are showing two year old Ellan some advanced present unwrapping skills.
A man in a stripy jersey watching his kid at swimming lessons.
Julie watching the tennis and working out how we’ll get the boiler fixed. We moved into a house in the winter and the boiler burst. It now appears this happens to pretty much everyone.
Maybe the 25% of the population who’d consider buying a new house have got it right?
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.
Thursday: an enjoyable evening looking at the sketches entered in the Denis Mason-Jones sketching competition, in Leeds.
Tuesday: speaking at the Residential Investment Conference 2015. It was held underground, and the lecture theatre style benches glowed red. I tried not to be too distracted.
Monday night: watching ideas for getting one million more homes into the outer London boroughs, Pecha Kucha style at the NLA.
Saturday: more relaxed time spent in Edinburgh.
Lotus founder and all round genius Colin Chapman designed the Lotus Seven in 1957. By the early seventies it no longer fitted the more luxurious aspirations of Lotus, so Caterham bought the rights and carried on building it. Almost 60 years after it was first designed you can still buy more or less the same car.It’s simplicity itself. I love that it makes up for not having much power by not having much of anything at all. It’s tiny: you can walk around it in a parking space. ‘Just add lightness’ was the Chapman design philosophy and we enjoyed the thrilling results on a sunny day in Fife.In Soho in London. A little extra space on the corner of Berwick Street and Broadwick Street makes for a busy spot. People using their phones to text, talk and find their way to their next meeting. This corner gives them room to pause without being in the way and lets me watch urban life in narrow streets with lowish buildings. Lots of activity in not a lot of space.
When the London office moved to Kentish Town there weren’t many cafes selling fancy and expensive coffee. There are now. Places change and something gets lost. Off to the board meeting to discuss the ethics of working in Uganda, and London.
Start! F & I are off to school.
Sitting In Advocate’s Close admiring Morgan McDonnell’s sensitive modern buildings on medieval steps. A design from a couple of years ago sitting comfortably on a route from 600 years ago.
Ruari’s left school, Fraser’s about to start.
Sometimes, more than others, you feel that time is moving on.
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.