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.
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.
The kids being chased round the garden of Grays Court hotel by Henry the resident dog. Our slightly rowdy bunch spent a warm and sunny afternoon in their elegant, calm garden.
Back in Edinburgh we are inside waiting for the hailstones to stop and the icy winds to die down.
Luckily some of the excellent Dr Seuss books are being made into films. We stayed in and watched ‘The Lorax’.
Admiring the Britannia on the last day of the Easter holiday. It’s an interesting tour: a glimpse into a world where hierarchy must be emphasised in everything from crockery to wall panelling to drink, otherwise the illusion might slip.
We’d spent some time in York, having fun and looking at trains.
This might look like boys activities, but we all enjoyed it. Back home, the Stockbridge Arts Club had it’s first meeting. It’s a foil to our partner’s “Book Group” and might take a little while to find it’s core purpose…
Waiting for a train in Dundee, thinking about what the new station might be.