I remember being told by my course tutors on the first day of architecture school that as a degree subject architecture was different from other undergraduate studies. It was explained firstly that we’d all have to work extremely hard. Secondly, there was no ‘reading week’ when lectures stopped and most students took the opportunity to go home for a decent meal rather than visit UCL’s libraries. Thirdly, our fellow students enrolled on other studies, would quickly become enamoured with our course work of drawing and model making. Fourthly, that they’d all be reading piles of dusty old books whilst we’d be sketching new ideas onto sheets of clean drafting paper. And finally, some of us would find ourselves working late into the night trying to capture the enigma of ‘good design’.
This was all to become true, as our teachers knew so well, and continued into our professional lives where work sometimes has taken over, leaving little room for anything else. I joined Squire and Partners in 1997 following the early 1990’s recession. It was the same year Tony Blair became Prime Minister, Hong Kong was handed back to China and Princess Diana died. Radiohead released ‘Ok Computer’ and Frank Gerry completed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. My first completed project was the refurbishment of 90 Long Acre. It feels along time ago.
But my time working at Squire’s is now coming to an end so that I can go cycling. It feels peculiar not to be focussing on the next architectural project and to be stepping away from the subject I first began to study aged 17. I’ve been so absorbed with architecture and for so long, that to now finally stop feels truly odd. Its as if I’ve been let loose, become untied, allowed to come up for air, to wander, to have time to take a good look around and see what else life might be about.