Episode 35 – Paul Priestman

On the programme this week is the designer Paul Priestman.

Paul started his business designing the packaging for Boots’ Number 7 cosmetics.  Some 30 years later PriestmanGoode, the firm he started along with Nigel  Goode, has become the go-to firm responsible for designing many of the seats, aircraft cabins, carriages, berths, beds, hotel rooms and spaces we inhabit when we travel.

Paul Priestman. Image courtesy of the practice.

Paul studied Industrial Design in London, first at Central St Martins and later the Royal College of Art. On the back of a competition win, he started Paul Priestman Design, which later became Priestman Associates and then PriestmanGoode in 1989.

The firm became hugely influential in the travel sector, with their acclaimed work for much, if not most,  of the sector’s leading brands – from Virgin Atlantic to Air France; Austrian Railways to Transport for London; Accor Hotels to Yotel.

Many of PriestmanGoode’s projects including their speculative proposal for moving train platforms to their commissioned New Tube for London have helped propel them into the public consciousness.  PriestmanGoode’s latest exhibition Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink at London’s Design Museum (until 1st March 2020)  has reached a huge audience, helping us examine the waste that we generate when we travel and question how design can help us create more environmentally friendly products and processes for the travel industry.

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Episode 34 – Patrik Schumacher

On the programme this week our guest is Patrik Schumacher, Principal of Zaha Hadid Architects.

When Patrik joined the practice in 1988, Zaha Hadid had just four other employees, based out of a couple of rooms in a converted Victorian school on Bowling Green Lane in Clerkenwell.

Patrik Schumacher. Image courtesy of the practice.

And the practice had no built work to its name, but Zaha was beginning to attract some public attention for her avant-garde designs, particularly following her inclusion in the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at MOMA in New York in 1988, along with now fellow household names Rem Koolhaus and Frank Ghery,

Patrick was born in West Germany and originally studied Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Bonn, where he was influenced heavily by the work of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

It was later that he studied Architecture at the University of Stuttgart before continuing his studies at the Southbank Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) as part of an exchange programme.

After joining the practice Patrik quickly became one of Zaha’s most trusted confidants and friends, working on many of the practice’s major projects.   As the practice grew Patrik became increasingly influential as a senior partner and co-leader of the practice.

In London the practice’s work includes the Olympic Aquatics Centre in Stratford, The Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton (for which the firm won one of their two Stirling Prizes) and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery – but the vast majority of the firms work continues to come from overseas.

Zaha Hadid died in March 2016 leaving Patrik as Principal of the 400-plus person practice that still bears her name.

I joined Patrik in the practice’s offices in Clerkenwell, where he started some 30 years ago. We talked about politics, working long hours, having a thick skin, and the future of the practice.

We also talk about the benefits of writing and the process of quantifying the practice’s ideas and lending written words to the often oral arguments that went on at the time. And we talk about Patrick coining the term parametricism.

And then we talk about how teaching can help a practice rejuvenate and reinterpret its ideas.

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Episode 33 – Deborah Saunt

Our guest this week is Deborah Saunt, co-founder of the architecture practice DSDHA.

Deborah was born in Australia but moved as a child to the UK via a brief stint in Kenya.  It was in Scotland that she first studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art. She later studied via a scholarship at the University of Kansas in the USA, and then at Cambridge University back in the UK.

After graduating she worked for Mary Jane ‘MJ’ Long and Sir Colin (Sandy) Wilson on the final stages of the British Library in London,  before working for Tony Fretton Architects.

But in 1998 she went on to co-found her own practice, DSDHA along with David Hills.

Deborah Saunt. Image curtsey of the practice

The practice has gone on to win numerous awards including for the renovation of the Economist Plaza, originally designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, as well as Christ’s College, Vesta House and Covert House.  The practice has also gained a reputation for their work on urban design and public space particularly through their work on Tottenham Court Road and around the Royal Albert Hall.

Deborah completed her PhD thesis in 2013 as part of the Practice Research programme at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.  And teaching remains a large part of her work, as she helped to co-found the London School of Architecture with the school’s first intake in 2015.

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Episode 32 – Hattie Hartman

On the programme this week our guest is Hattie Hartman, Sustainability Editor at the Architects’ Journal. 

The Architects’ Journal was founded in 1895 as The Builder’s Journal and Architectural Record, before being taking its current name in 1919.  Some 100 years later the journal still remains one of the profession’s most respected and widely read publications.

Hattie Hartman. Image (c) Architects’ Journal

But our guest didn’t start out as a journalist. Hattie first studied Fine Arts and Architectural History at Harvard University and then went on to study Architecture and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After graduating – and a crash course in Portuguese – she moved to Brasilia where she worked in the Department of Public Works. 

She later returned to the US and qualified as an architect whilst working at a small practice in Washington DC. 

In 1991 she moved to London and soon after started work at Hunt Thompson Associates, the practice that later formed HTA Design and John Thompson and Partners.

An opportunity to interview Oscar Niemeyer in Rio de Janeiro sparked an eventual career change to journalism.

In 2006, Hattie landed the job of Technical Editor for the Architects Journal, later going on to create the new post of Sustainability Editor – a position she’s now held for over ten years.

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Episode 31 – Piers Gough

Our guest this week is the architect Piers Gough CBE.  

Piers was born in Brighton in the south of England and in 1965 began his studies at the Architectural Association in London – studying under Peter Cook (of Archigram frame) and Elia Zenghelis (who when on to co-found the Office of Metropolitan Architecture).

Piers Gough. Image courtesy of the practice

It was at the AA that Piers studied with Nick Campbell, Roger Zogolovitch and Rex Wilkinson – and from where the four started their practice in the university’s basement studio space.

In 1975 they formalised the practice as Campbell Zogolovitch Wilkinson Gough Architects – now known as CZWG Architects. The practice has made a name for themselves through a huge range of bold, often playful postmodernist work.   Indeed in 2018 six of CZWG’s early works from the 1980s were listed by Historic England for their significance to the UK’s postmodernist movement.

In the episode we talk about these buildings including the Aztec West Business Park near Bristol, the Janet Street-Porter House in Clerkenwell, China Wharf in Southwark, Bryanston School in Dorset, The Circle in Shad Thames,  and Cascades in the Isle of Dogs

We also speak about the firm’s work at Mile End Park – bridging the park over a busy road – and the inverted pyramid of Canada Water Library in Southwark.

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Episode 30 – Peter Clegg & Keith Bradley

Keith Bradley

On the programme this week we speak to Peter Clegg and Keith Bradley, Partners at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

In 1978 Peter Clegg and Richard Feilden founded their practice as Feilden Clegg Design in Bath in the west of England. Keith Bradley subsequently joined the practice in 1987.  

It wasn’t until 1998 – some 20 years after their founding – that the practice opened a London office – where the they now employ around 80 people. More recently the practice has opened studios in Belfast and Manchester, but remains headquartered in Bath. 

In 2000 the practice changed name to Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects – in recognition of Keith Bradley’s contribution – later going on to become Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios or FCB Studios

The practice’s co-founder Richard Feilden died in a tragic accident in 2005 aged just 54. FCB Studios helped setup the Richard Feilden Foundation in his honour.


The practice has long been recognised for its environmental commitment and specialism in low carbon design with projects including Greenpeace’s UK Headquarters, finished in 1991 and the National Trust’s HQ in 2006.

The practice won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2008 for Acordia a housing development just outside Cambridge, won with Alison Brooks and Maccreanor Lavington.  It was the first housing project to win the Stirling Prize. 

As well as their commitment to low carbon design the practice has long been commended for their wider social and ethical commitments. Continue reading “Episode 30 – Peter Clegg & Keith Bradley”

Episode 29 – Del Hossain

Our guest this week is the managing director of the architectural recruitment firm Adrem

Del Hossain was born and grew up in Manchester before moving to London to study architecture – first at London South Bank University and then at the Bartlett School of Architecture.  

After working at a number of practices including Orms and Foster + Partners he left to briefly setup his own architecture firm with his wife.  The work quickly came in – but so too did the realisation that practicing as an architect wasn’t for him. 

From there, in 1998, he joined Adrem, the UK’s first specialist architectural recruitment firm, where he remains managing director. 

Adrem now has offices in London, Dubai and Shanghai – helping many of the world’s leading architectural practices to find the right talent.  Continue reading “Episode 29 – Del Hossain”

Episode 28 – Kirsten Lees

Our guest this week is the architect Kirsten Lees, Managing Partner at Grimshaw Architects.

Kirsten was elected as the London studio’s first female Managing Partner in May 2018. In a somewhat unique arrangement Grimshaw’s Managing Partner is elected by the studio’s nine Partners for a three year term, renewable once, helping to balance renewal and stability in the practice’s senior leadership.

Kirsten was born in Scotland and studied architecture at the University of Glasgow before taking a year out to work in Spain.  She later worked for the Practice Bach y Mora Arquitectos before returning to the UK to work for Michael Wilford and Associates, and then going on to join Grimshaw in 1997.

Grimshaw was founded in 1980 by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and the practice has gone on to build a huge range of iconic buildings including the Eden Project, the National Space centre in Leicester and the former Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo in London.  Indeed the practice maintains a strong reputation for its legacy of transport and infrastructure buildings.

As well as her Managing Partner role, Kirsten continues to work on a number of projects across the arts, sports and masterplanning – areas of work the practice are keen to expand on. 

The practice has undergone a huge internationalisation – with projects and offices in New York, Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Sydney and of course in London.

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Episode 27 – Jonathan Darke

Our guest this week is the architect Jonathan Darke.

Jonathan was born to British Parents in Pennsylvania in the USA. His father’s work as a Civil Engineer led him and the family to move extensively throughout his childhood, living amongst other places in Iran and Pakistan.

Later, back in the UK, Jonathan studied architecture at the University of Brighton and then at London Metropolitan University.  

Jonathan Darke. Image courtesy of the practice

He worked for a while under the highly influential architect Florian Beigel then going on to work for Nicholas Lacey Jobst & Hyett. He later moved to to Stillman & Eastwick-Field, a practice with a strong reputation for their work on schools and hospitals. 

During his 18 years at the practice he went on to become Managing Partner, before the then 25-strong practice merged in 2004 with the architecture practice TP Bennett to become their health and education team.

TP Bennett was founded in 1921 by Sir Thomas Bennett and is now one of the ten largest architecture practices in the UK.  Sir Thomas rose to prominence for his work on the New Towns of Crawley and Stevenage, and later the vast Grade II listed Smithfield Market.  But the practice’s more recent work includes a complete redesign of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Guildhall North Wing for the City of London Corporation, as well as extensive renovation work on the iconic Sea Containers House on the River Thames.

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Episode 26 – Pooja Agrawal

Our guest this week is the architect Pooja Agrawal.

In 2017 Pooja co-founded the social enterprise Public Practice along with Finn Williams. Public Practice places architects and other built environment experts within local authorities on year-long placements – providing much needed skills and experience for the public sector.  

In the 1970s almost half of all UK architects leaving university went on to work for the public sector. But throughout the 1980s Central Government effectively stifled Local Government’s ability to build, and that architectural expertise began to drain away. Today, the proportion of architects working for the public sector in London is, according to Public Practice, well under 1 per cent of the profession.

Perhaps Public Practice can make public service – and working for the public sector – an attractive option again for ambitious architects? The signs are positive: pioneering London Boroughs like Croydon, Barking and Dagenham and Harrow are starting to build again. 

Pooja was born in Ohio in the United States before moving with her family back to their home Mumbai in India.

It was from Mumbai that she later moved to the UK to continue her education, studying for a degree in Architecture at the University of Cambridge before going on to do her MA at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. 

She went on to work for a number of practices that put public sector work front and centre. Working initially for Publica and then We Made That – where she worked on projects including the regeneration of Black Horse Lane in Walthamstow. Pooja currently works at the Regeneration Team at the Greater London Authority, and alongside Public Practice, has delivered regeneration projects in the North West of London and overseen strategic policy and programmes on small sites, culture, design quality and social integration. 

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