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On Wednesday, I travelled hopefully to COP26 – looking forward to the delights of the LNER high speed, low carbon, full fat English breakfast.  My best laid plans went awry as LNER cancelled and the much-delayed trip left most of us standing for four hours sustained by a bag of crisps and a recycled plastic bottle of water. It was thus very much better to have arrived than to travel hopefully. Lesson 1: infrastructure is key. The 15-minute city is fine for living, working, school and shops,... Read More >

Recent Articles:

In a fortnight, after a year as president elect, I will become the new president of the RIBA. It is a job I never thought I would want to do – and for many good reasons. Not  least because my father, an eminent modernist architect, Read More >

Originally published March 2019. The early history of the Caribbean (and especially Barbados) is well told in the book Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker. Even by the cruel standards of the time, the descriptions of the treatment of indentured Read More >

Originally published December 2017.  The Barcelona Pavilion, by Mies van der Rohe. Over many years of working on numerous projects, I have always drawn inspiration from the work of some of the great architects from the past (borrowing Read More >

Originally published July 2020. How did the Great Fire of 1666 shape London's architectural history? At this time of year, we are inundated with nostalgic images of a Victorian Christmas set in a Dickensian London where the real horrors Read More >

In this fifth chapter of his professional memoirs, to be published in six parts, Oliver Ash recalls how one of the greats of Paris real estate helped shape his career in the boom of the late 80s. To read or re-read the first four chapters of Read More >

One of the unexpected pleasures of lockdown has been the ability to view London unhindered by people and traffic. Recently, I was almost run over by a delivery moped when staring up at one of the new high-end residential buildings in Read More >

At 80 Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, Derwent London’s largest development to date, we have made a substantial commitment to ‘handmade’ materials and finishes. The fact that we proposed to demolish a substantial 1960s building on an Read More >

While his buildings were strikingly modern and fun, he was keen to connect them to their context and the past. This article was originally published in November 2019. One of the most colourful members of the architectural community died Read More >

This article was originally published in June 2020. Staying with family friends in Chicago back in the 70s I had an early introduction to a couple of the world’s great architects. My host was an architect and a lecturer at Northwestern Read More >

This article was originally published in March 2020. This is the title of a Stereophonics song, but it also evokes yet another trend which Europe has sleepwalked into adopting from the US. Why, those subway trains covered from track to roof Read More >

The best can come out of the worst – if we work (in our office) at it! As an architect I need to be an optimist – it is part of my survival kit. That does not make me unaware of the bad – but it does make me look for the good (I am ever Read More >

This article was originally published in August 2017. I have just returned from my old and dear friends’ week-long 25th wedding anniversary celebration at Wyntoon, the 60,000 acre Hearst estate located near Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Read More >

This article was originally published in March 2019. How a whisky magnate’s daughter fought to build a skyscraper that still takes the breath away.  I must confess that I am not a huge fan of skyscrapers – or ‘cloud busters’ as Read More >

This article was first published in September 2017. I’m regularly appalled at the banality of post-match - or at least post-achievement - interviews of sports people still dripping from their efforts. As if it isn’t enough to hijack Read More >

This article was first published in March 2018. After a break of a year, it is always a shocking experience to stand at the top of the Cresta run again, preparing to hurl myself head first down an ice chute at over seventy miles an hour. Read More >

It was my friend and sometime neighbour John Stewart’s recent “Blog 7” which started me thinking about the discrediting of historical buildings as well as historical figures. He was writing on Guiseppe Terragni’s Casa del Fascio in Read More >

Frank Gehry’s cultural centre in the Bois de Boulogne was born into controversy but is now accepted as a phenomenal piece of architecture whose structural gymnastics defy belief. La Fondation Louis Vuitton, a remarkable building by any Read More >

Warehousing is a rapidly growing requirement, and we must find more space to accommodate it within the urban fabric. Much has been written about how the retail and office sectors are being transformed by the sudden acceleration in e-commerce Read More >

This article was originally published in April 2019. The birthplace of the skyscraper overflows with famous buildings – but none as stunning as a lesser-known piece of architecture, Bertrand Goldberg’s brutalist ‘city within a Read More >

My first visit to Istanbul was part of an architectural tour while studying at the Architectural Association. We were ably led by my tutor, Mark Prizeman, who was a founding member of the avant-garde architectural group NATO (which stood for Read More >

This article was originally published on 30 April 2018. The recent completion of the hugely expensive new US Embassy in London and the continued controversy around the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem brings back memories of our Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2018 Pierre Chareau is not a name that springs to mind when contemplating the great architects or designers from a previous era. Whilst Chareau is best remembered for his furniture designs, this singular Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 12TH FEBRUARY 2018 My visit to Yale was not to study a post graduate degree but happily for me to look at the extraordinary range of Modernist Architecture over the length and breadth of their campus. I was aware Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2017.  This title has been borrowed from Bernard Rudofsky, a Moravian-born American writer, architect, and social historian who published an influential book of the same name in 1964. It has the subtitle 'A Read More >

It is my experience that, when travelling, the best way to understand a country is to follow in the footsteps of an artist or architect of that country’s culture.   This leads to some unexpected results.  On my last Read More >

Derwent London, the company I have worked for over the last 34 years, have built a variety of office buildings over that period.  So, on this occasion, I’ve decided to choose one of them and add it to my list of favourite buildings. I Read More >

Amidst the clamour for local authorities to give planning permission for new homes more easily and more speedily, there is thankfully a mechanism for upholding the quality of new dwellings and their associated public realm: Design Review. The Read More >

Louis Kahn’s greatest piece of architecture wasn’t a building at all – and wasn’t completed for decades after his death. At Derwent London, we have always drawn inspiration from architectural past masters. One such was Louis Kahn Read More >

Philadelphia’s new downtown home for the Barnes Foundation’s stunning collection is a missed architectural opportunity – but worth a visit to check out the paintings. A recent trip to the US included lunch with my godfather at the Read More >

On Wednesday 19th September, The Property Chronicle attended the launch of the much anticipated Brunel Building, the latest building designed by Derwent London. The Brunel Building is an architectural landmark for Paddington, providing a Read More >

Uncompromising in his vision, architect Peter Zumthor faces his toughest challenge to date Not long after his celebrated thermal baths were completed, Peter Zumthor, a reclusive Swiss architect, gave a rare lecture at the Royal Institute of Read More >

Much as I believe in Samuel Johnson’s maxim, that a man bored of London is bored of life, I still find an escape from London invigorating. It offers clarity as well as new insights. Accordingly I recently escaped with a few friends for an Read More >

Unusual, yet awe-inspiring, the Ronchamp chapel has to been seen to be believed I must confess that I am slightly privileged by the fact that, working constantly with architects, I am occasionally offered trips to see buildings of interest, Read More >

There is often a great desire for the keen student of architecture to see buildings in the flesh rather than as idealized photographic images which are so accessible in books and, especially now, on the internet.  So how do you see the Read More >

Not long after his celebrated thermal baths were completed, Peter Zumthor, the idiosyncratic reclusive Swiss architect, gave a rare lecture in the elegant basement lecture hall at the RIBA.  I had only recently qualified and I was eager to Read More >

The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Stirling Prize, named after the renowned architect James Stirling, was introduced in 1996 and is presented to "the architects of the UK building that has made the greatest contribution to the Read More >

I have met Richard Rogers on a number of occasions and I can say for a fact that he is an utterly charming man. When my wife and I were courting, many years ago, we found ourselves walking through Chelsea one summer evening. I was eager to Read More >

Malta was once a glamourous destination. This small rock, south of Sicily, had been a British dominion since 1800 and since at least World War II had been the playground of the British Armed forces.  It was no accident that Princess Elizabeth Read More >

A few days ago I escaped the metropolis and headed for an impromptu but long desired trip to the West Country. I knew little of my destination except that there was a particular flight of stairs, that I knew only from a black and white photo, Read More >

Architects have different obsessions and ultimately these obsessions are expressed in their built work. Some, for example, become concerned with mass and others with lightness. Architects from the modern movement were often more focused on Read More >

The pyramids of Egypt are astonishing feats of human engineering. The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest structure in the world built by man for more than 3,800 years. Most structures built today would collapse if left unattended for several Read More >

In 2013 archaeologists from MOLA discovered an extraordinary Roman sculpture on the last day of excavation for the development of Motel One. In this article the astonishing story of the sculpture is revealed. Working on a site in the City of Read More >

Much has been written in the Spanish press recently about the Valle de Los Caidos (the Valley of the Fallen), the monument to those who died in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) which is a one hour drive north of Madrid near the Escatorial Palace, Read More >

Venice is extraordinary for many reasons but it is unique because it is a city that is built on water. It has its own singular way of building; however, it is the light that has captured the imagination of writers and artists for so many Read More >

This piece is written from ‘Fiddlesticks’, one of the busier bars in Christchurch, New Zealand, having visited a remarkable building today: the Transitional Cathedral, also known as the 'Cardboard Cathedral'. I wasn't sure Read More >

The first new interpretation of a Roman ruin in London for nearly 20 years, London Mithraeum opened to the public in November 2017. The ruins of the mid-3rd century temple were discovered in September 1954 on a former WWII bomb site at the start Read More >

Clandon was a Grade I listed early 18th century house near Guildford in Surrey owned by the National Trust. On April 29th, 2015 an electrical fault occurred in an old electrical distribution board in the basement and a fire started. The board was Read More >

Read part one Read part two Earlier this year at Zaha Hadid's memorial service, as speeches, including one by her friend Lord Palumbo (all ill-assisted by unnecessary artificial amplification), echoed incoherently around the great vessel Read More >

Read part one For most of the two millennia that have ensued since its founding, the City of London has experienced numerous crises whose import and impact far outweigh the minor financial ripples that our media message as crises. It is Read More >

The excitement of property development for me is that you never know where an opportunity might present itself. One of my most unexpected projects came off the back of a chance meeting with a very charming young lady whom I met at Read More >

It is incredibly spoiling to be flown privately. It removes so much of the hassle of travelling especially at each end of the journey. There is no checking in, no personal bag searches and no stepping through machines at the behest of officials. Read More >

My first column for The Property Chronicle offers a welcome chance to reflect on matters beyond the moment. Which is useful as learning from the past enables us to design for a building’s uncertain future. There is much to consider as it is Read More >

There are mixed feelings in the design and architectural fraternity about television programmes which chart the journey of a construction project. Thankfully, the early superficial make-over versions which relied rather too much on masking tape Read More >

Above: University of Winchester building project (copyright: Design Engine Architects, used with permission) This week, I took part in a thought-provoking debate in the new Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford. The evening was hosted by Read More >

So, I sit in my tiny garden on a sunny Sunday in reflective mood wondering what on earth is happening to our towns and cities in the race to achieve impossible housing targets. Two cities close to my own heart, Exeter and Winchester, are Read More >

Anyone who has visited the below ground troglodyte houses of Cappadocia, a region of central Turkey, knows that these ancient habitations are as impressive as they are unusual. They are mostly cut out of the rock face of a steep mountain. They Read More >

There was a feature on TV this week about the grotesque golf trophies that the unfortunate professional is forced to model in front of the cameras should he or she triumph on tour. These ranged in design from various enormous jewel-encrusted Read More >

Image (c) iStockphoto I first came across ‘Zaha’ when I was a student at the Architectural Association (known as the AA) in the early 1990s. She was always known just as Zaha. She never required a last name as everyone knew who she was. Read More >


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