Naimh and Ali leaving to go to college. “Another opportunity for dodgy drawings of the staff” says Tom. Festival over, I’ve seen my stand up comics for the year. Jason Byrne was funnier than Reginald D Hunter, but not as interesting. I did learn not to try drawing in the dark though.
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.
Watching Sylvain Chomet’s Belleville Rendez-Vous in Bicycle Outfitters Ronde in Stockbridge. An appropriately stylish location for this beautiful animation, I think. It’s a cycling theme as this is our last fundraising event before our team of twelve ride 100 miles (each) this weekend. Through incredibly kind donations, we’ve raised over £15,000 for homelessness charity Shelter. Many thanks to everyone who has helped through donations, gifting raffle prizes, baking cakes or offering free use of venues.
It’s been great fun. Now to ride the 100 miles…
A plane, manufactured in Scotland.
This one’s in East Fortune. We were there to watch a Spitfire and a Eurofighter Typhoon, amongst others. The last Spitfire was produced in 1948 and 46 years later technology had advanced so incredibly we were able to build the first Eurofighter. It’s the most extraordinary man made thing I have ever seen.
A couple of good speakers:
I looked after the kids for the day, to give their mum some time to commit shopping. Innes ended up in a pond in a public park, momentarily submerged.
A man on the North London line.
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”.
In Manchester discussing how devolving power to regions can lead to more effective and more appropriate solutions to the current housing crisis. Lots of support for this and lots of good ideas. I think Scottish devolution has opened people’s eyes to the benefits of local decision making but they haven’t yet experienced it’s overwhelming, empowering, energy.
Next day: Derby. We’ve started the design of Phase Two of Castleward so it’s a good time to think about the bits of Phase One that work (mixed use/ mixed tenure/ mixed typologies/ the biggest trees we’ve ever planted/ streets) and the bits that don’t. If being an architect is sometimes quite hard work, it’s all made worthwhile when you see things you imagined realised.
Want a (free) hug? This is outside Camden tube during a pointlessly brief trip to London.
Free Hugs is an international movement, but I haven’t spotted it in Edinburgh yet. It’s for fairly expressive people I think: a big hug with someone you’ve never met on a busy corner in London. Am I too Scottish?
Earlier in the week we went out for tea with Jonathon and Pavlina who are sadly leaving.
Now that might just be reason for a hug.
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.
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.
The Cock is a pub designed by HTA about thirty years ago.At that time HTA were specialists in what people called ‘Public Housing’ so when someone called looking for a ‘Public House’, the entrepreneurial partners got right down to it. They did another twenty pubs after that, of which this is one. Just off Portland Place, this one’s a cheap place for a pint in an expensive part of town. I’m across the street for breakfast, reflecting on talking about sketching last night in Camden.