Episode Eleven – Alison Brooks

On the programme this week is the architect Alison Brooks.

Alison was born in Canada and studied architecture at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. As part of Canada’s co-op system, during her studies she alternated between university and practice, gaining experience with many of Canada’s top architecture firms.

Alison Brooks. Image credit: Mark Hadden

After university Alison left Canada and moved to London, initially on a working holiday visa. Her big break came when she found a job with Israeli designer Ron Arad, first on the competition – and later the delivery – for the Tel Aviv Opera House.  Ron had previously made a name for himself with his design and production company One-Off,  and later the One-Off Showroom in Covent Garden.

Alison went on to become a partner in the practice, Ron Arad Associates, where she stayed for seven years. But in 1996 she left to start her own firm, Alison Brooks Architects, which quickly earned a reputation for delivering award-winning housing schemes.

Alison shot to prominence in 2008 for her work on Accordia, a housing scheme in Cambridge, with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Maccreanor Lavington. The project went on to jointly win them the RIBA Stirling Prize that year.

She was shortlisted again for Stirling in 2013, for Newhall Be, a housing development in Harlow in Essex.  The practice has also won the two other big RIBA architecture prizes, the Manser Medal for Salt House and the Stephen Lawrence prize for Wrap House.

In this week’s episode we talk about drawing the straight lines for petrol station canopies and, perhaps more rewardingly, the complex non-orthogonal curves for the Tel Aviv Opera House.  We talk about Alison’s early experience measuring every detail of her childhood house and detailing every measure of a project by hand.

We talk about Canadian education and British housing. And we consider the benefits of winning work through competitions.

We joined Alison in her bustling office early one evening . Continue reading “Episode Eleven – Alison Brooks”

Episode Ten – Sadie Morgan

On the programme  this week is Sadie Morgan.

In 1995, Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh and Sadie Morgan founded the architecture practice dRMM.

Sadie Morgan (c) Andy Matthews

The practice has had an extraordinary few years, having been shortlisted three times for the prestigious RIBA Stirling prize, in 2010 for Clapham Manor Primary  School, 2016 for Trafalgar Place, Elephant and Castle, and most recently in 2017 for Hastings Pier.  I joined Sadie a few days after their third nomination, Hastings Pier, had just been named the winner of this year’s Prize.

Sadie studied Interior Architecture at Kingston Polytechnic where she met her future colleagues, before going on to the Royal College of Art.

The practice’s first built project was at One Centaur Street in London for Solidspace, the developer led by architect Roger Zogolovitch (previously the Z in practice CZWG).

In addition to her role as Founding Director of the practice, Sadie has taken on a wide range of other roles including Professor of Professional Practice at the University of Westminster; Design Panel Chair for High Speed Two; Commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission; one of the Mayor of London’s Design Advocates, and many other roles.

In this week’s episode we talk about climbing mountains and cycling across countries; about starting practices, sailing boats and surviving cancer.

We joined Sadie in the practice’s offices near City Hall in London.

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Episode Nine – Roger Madelin

Roger Madelin. Image courtesy of British Land

Many architects start their career dreaming of their perfect commission – perhaps the chance of creating an iconic building that defines a city.

Few architects though get the opportunity to totally redefine and reshape whole swathes of a city.

Our guest this week is not an architect but a developer, having made his name at Argent through his acclaimed urban regeneration work, initially at Brindleyplace in Birmingham and then through the vast transformation of Kings Cross in London. Kings Cross has become a defining example of bold well-managed urban regeneration.

In the early 1980s Roger studied Building Management and Engineering at university before entering world of work in the midst of a deep recession.

In 1987 he joined the fledgling developer Argent. Two years later he became a director, and went on to become Chief Executive in 1997.

He was awarded a CBE for services to sustainable development in the 2007 Queen’s Honours List. In 2010 he became an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA

Last year he left Argent to join the FTSE 100 developer British Land, where he’s leading the exciting transformation of 46 acres of land in Canada Water in South East London.

For this week’s episode we join Roger at British Land’s offices in Mayfair.

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Episode Eight – Kate Goodwin

Kate Goodwin
Kate Goodwin (c) Ruth Schocken Katz

On the programme this week is Kate Goodwin. Kate studied architecture at the University of Sydney and also as an exchange student at McGill University in Montreal.

After finishing University, in 2003 Kate left her native Australia and moved to London. Following a brief stint temping in various roles including at the BBC, she started work as Architecture Programme Coordinator at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Over the intervening 14 years Kate rose steadily through the ranks going on to become both the Academy’s Drue Heinz Curator of Architecture, and Head of the Architecture programme.

In this week’s episode we talk about conceiving and curating the widely acclaimed Sensing Spaces exhibition. We talk about the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary and David Chipperfield’s plans for the new architecture centre. We also find out about the upcoming Renzo Piano exhibition.

We consider what London has gained from Sydney and what Sydney has learned from Melbourne. And we talk about the interplay between art and architecture.

Finally we discuss gender in the field of architecture. We consider how a better built environment requires a better gender balance, not just amongst those who  create architecture but also amongst those who are responsible for its commissioning, financing and planning.

We speak to Kate in the imposing and slightly intimidating General Assembly Room at the Royal Academy.

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Episode Seven – Hugh Broughton

Hugh Broughton (c) Jane Airey
Hugh Broughton (c) Jane Airey

On the programme this week is Hugh Broughton.  Hugh is perhaps best known for his practice’s work designing the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Research Station. Its bright red and blue modules set atop large hydraulic stilts loom large over the glistening white Antarctic landscape.

The research station’s iconic outline has entered the popular imagination, having featured both on the front of a Royal Mail Stamp and the back of a Two Pound coin. More recently the station featured on a BBC Horizon documentary, which covered the extraordinary process of moving the building.

After university in Edinburgh and a brief spell working with John McAslan, Hugh founded his own practice in 1996. Following their successful work for the British Antarctic Survey, the practice went on to forge an enviable track record for their other work in remote and polar regions – as well as work closer to home on a string of cultural and heritage projects.

In this week’s episode we talk about the chilly task of designing for the Antarctic, about working for NASA and the architects’ role as a marriage councillor.

We discuss the joy of winning competitions and the pain of losing them. And we consider the benefits and necessity of having many strings to your bow.

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Episode Six – Michael Squire

Michael Squire
Michael Squire (c) Gareth Gardner

On the programme this week is Michael Squire.

In 1976 Michael founded his eponymous practice from a basement studio in Pimlico. Over the intervening 41 years the practice has grown at a prodigious rate, now being ranked as the 9th largest architecture firm in the UK, according to the AJ100 rankings. The firm now employs more than 215 staff.

The practice has moved several times from those early days, first to South Kensington and then Kings Cross, but  most recently to their stunning new building – The Department Store – in Brixton.

In this week’s episode we ask what it means to create ‘polite architecture’ and find out when you might get paid in traveller’s cheques.

We talk about succession planning and why you really can do without an HR department, but really shouldn’t go without buying your own building.

And finally we find out why it’s so important to still feel the fear.

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Episode Five – Chris Dyson

Chris Dyson
Chris Dyson (c) Agnese Sanvito

On the programme this week is Chris Dyson, principal of Chris Dyson Architects – a multi-award-winning practice, much lauded for their sensitive conservation work on historic buildings in London.

In today’s episode we speak about Chris’s passion for drawing and his work for James Stirling.   We talk about going to boarding school and walking the plank. And finally, about making grand plans – or perhaps plans to be grand.

Chris originally studied Architecture at Oxford Brookes University and then at Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow before going on to spend 11 years working at James Stirling Michael Wilford and Associates.

Chris then spent three years as a Design Director at Sir Terry Farrells’s practice, from where, in 2003, he left to start his own firm.

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Episode Four – Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan (c) Katie Hyams

On the podcast this week is architect Mary Duggan.

In 2004 Mary and her then partner Joe Morris founded Duggan Morris Architects which quickly went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed young practices of the early 2000s.

Over the intervening 12 years the practice grew from a team of two – to now employing more than 50 staff. The rapid success of the business also coincided with the practice winning a huge number of architectural awards.

Earlier this year the practice announced an amicable demerger, with Joe continuing to lead Duggan Morris whilst Mary – along with nine members of staff – went on to launch a new practice Mary Duggan Architects.

I joined Mary at her new practice in Shoreditch where I asked about the nature of creative partnerships; about convincing clients and dealing with business growing pains. We also spoke about their Alfriston School Swimming Pool and the PedElle cycling challenge.

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Episode Three – Peter Rees

My guest this week is Peter Rees, now Professor of Places and City Planning at The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London.

Before returning to the Bartlett in 2014, Peter was, for nearly 30 years, the Chief Planning Officer in the City of London. Over this time he oversaw the architectural transformation of the Square Mile.

Peter Rees
Prof. Peter Rees. Image credit: UCL

In this week’s episode we find out which architect used a model of a stealth bomber as his inspiration. We talk about egos and editing; Penarth and Powerpoint. We ask why London Mayors are obsessed with changing the design of buses.

We find out how James Stirling called meetings and discover which influential architect would like to sleep – or pretend to sleep – in meetings.

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Episode Two – Hazel Rounding

Hazel Rounding
Hazel Rounding (c) Morley Von Sternberg

On the programme this week is Hazel Rounding, Director at award-winning architectural practice shedkm.

In this week’s podcast we ask what it means to have a ‘house style’.  We also talk about shedkm’s new style of house.

We talk about opportunities in Croydon and regeneration in Liverpool. We ask why colour palettes matter and from where architects get their inspiration.

Finally we discuss the process of opening a new outpost for your practice; we talk about retaining staff and maintaining an office culture.

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