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In amongst the boxes, waiting for the removal men to turn up and take us out of Fettes Rise. “Will we take the windows?” asked Innes.
Sketching interesting people on the train.
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”.
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.
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.
One of the good things about travelling to the same places is getting to know the best places to eat and drink: I’d recommend Caravan on Exmouth Market, if you’re ever in the area.
I’d recommend a Porsche too, but not one like this, sitting in an airport departure lounge.
A Saturday morning eating cake and ice cream at soft play, just after breakfast? My kids would definitely recommend that.
Coffee, sketching and enjoyable chat for me, so I’d recommend it too. Not enough time to finish the drawing though. I’m sure there will be other parties.
We’re wrestling with the potential of some big brick buildings just now so I’m on the trail of the lauded examples. Designing buildings is hard, so it’s worth learning from those who’ve done it well, recently.These are round the back of Kings Cross. Two big blocks, by Maccreanor Lavington and PRP.There’s lots to admire: consistency, bold entrances, roof lines, grand changes in scale, well considered materials and junctions. Using decent quality brick to begin with, even.
On the way to Leeds in the morning I caught up with this odd looking engine.
She (he?) pulls the Caledonian Sleeper up from Edinburgh in the colours of the English, Scottish and Welsh Railway, which I understand is owned by the Germans.
Watching progress on site at Castleward, Derby. I like the houses with the trees so close: let’s see if the buyers do. The houses look quite conventional but have layouts you might describe as quirky. (Surely: intelligent response to a complex problem?) It’s housing at quite high densities, but it’s houses, not flats. The idea is to give families the chance to live in the city centre.
You could have the celebrated (and fairly quirky) Brunswick pub on your doorstep too.
I stopped off briefly in Newcastle on the way home. I like the new glass pavilions in the station in the context of John Dobson’s beautiful Victorian shed.
Monday night: a piper in Trafalgar Square, London, at a rally calling for Scotland to remain in the Union.
In the last two days I passed through Newcastle, Leeds, London and Derby to meet clients and discuss some of the projects we are delivering in England.
The week before I was in Bristol and Bath. About half of our 18 Edinburgh based staff work on projects for sites in England. The union gives us straightforward access to a market ten times the size of our own. Nobody questions where we started the day, they see it all as one country.
Here’s Roberto at his leaving do. He’s off home to Spain. As it’s in the EU we could, theoretically work there but we don’t speak the language and you can’t get home in time for your tea. The UK’s the market, not the EU. I’m not sure the ‘levers’ we can pull to transform Scotland is the problem. I think it’s the ideas and leadership around what the changes should be. Independence gives us more levers, but not necessarily better ideas.
Fraser, Isla and Innes talking about the referendum. I was in England for two days and I neither bought a house nor even opened a bank account so I’m worried, but not that worried.
Lots on, loads to do, too many choices. We’ve been spending time with clients working out the right thing to do. A little less action, a bit more consideration.Load, aim, fire, as Bernard used to say.
This an office building for sale for residential conversion. There are loads of these around: we are working on four just now. The best ones make better flats than what we end up with when flats are designed from scratch: spacious, lots of light, generous ceiling heights. They’re the ones you want, avoid the others.