Design Philosophy

I believe that a designer must fully understand the whole construction process, essential, if a seamless translation from inspiration (through sketch design, modeling and working drawings) to its successful execution on site is to be achieved.

My experience of self-build projects, directing volunteer building teams and my own design and build operations, has provided this strong foundation. ‘Build-ability’ and robust detailing are necessary to enable good design to be created.

Architectural styles, like fashion, generally wax and wane in 10 year cycles, while the latest style may be requested by commercial clients, analysis and absorption of the essence of these progressive changes provides a more solid platform on which to work.

Designing buildings for our own time, but that respect their historical context and environment; buildings which we hope will provide service for a good number of generations.

At the heart of any design must lie the joint responsibility of client, designer and builder to provide ethically and ecologically responsible development which, however well addressed, will always have some detrimental impact on our Global environment, and consequently on human lives today or in the future, not least due to it’s ‘carbon footprint’.

Sustainable architecture is the descriptive title which we presently give to this responsible approach, however in reality this is just a deeper understanding of what makes ‘good’ architecture.  I look froward to the day when we no longer need to use this adjective, but can rely on everyone’s understanding of what architecture really is, so that this approach may be taken for granted.

Every client and every designer can move towards more sustainable construction solutions, if a conscious acceptance of the principles, is made at the projects outset and then wherever further opportunity presents. The most sustainable approach can then be identified and taken.

Sustainable design necessitates the close integration of building form, its passive and active environmental systems and the immediate environment of its site. Response to the local microclimate, typography, flora etc., will create a uniquely individual and appropriate solution, strong enough to create its own identity and to reinforce a ‘sense of place’.

The work, teaching and writing of Christopher Day, architect, philosopher and mentor, with whom I have worked closely, has been highly influential in my development as an Architect.

Another book the “Timeless Way of Building” and its sequel, “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander constantly informs my approach to the individuality and essence of each architectural intervention to shape our built environment.

New Build
Designing new buildings, understandably the most sought after opportunity by Architects, also carries the greatest responsibilities, as well as the possibility of the greatest success. However every new building has a higher environmental impact than reusing an existing one, especially in our heavily populated country.

Existing Buildings
While often more difficult to reuse and renovate in a fully sustainable way, the basic reuse of an existing structure with its original energy intensive materials, thus minimising pollution by the avoidance of transporting these heavy materials and the need for its demolition and waste disposal, generally is the most sustainable option. The careful conservation and renovation of the existing building stock is the most important building activity, since there are always many more of them than there are potential new sites. The opportunities for reuse and rejuvenation is often more socially sustainable as well.

The concept of conservation of our historically interesting building stock is well established, however value and attention should be given to the greater mass of our more ordinary buildings, each presenting the opportunity for a designer to transcend the ordinary and to give it a new lease of life, conserving resources at the same time.

Working Methods
It is important for me to work closely with clients and to let them be directly involved with and encourage them to understand the design process. I aim to act as a facilitator or guide, rather than impose my own design ego, which can more easily happen when a client is divorced from this close relationship. However, this method takes more commitment from clients as well! Every site or existing building and every client combination is unique and will yield a unique solution.
Modeling, both physical and digital, in 3D, is an important tool, which I often employ to develop the best solutions, and it is often useful presenting a scheme to clients and to others, such as planning committees. Below you can see examples of models made for recent clients.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you have any further questions or if you have a project with which I might assist please contact me.