When I went for my first day of school, at 4 years old, it was nothing like I had experienced before: huge windows, slim modernist columns and circular skylights. The outward looking building was a prototype designed by Leslie Martin and Sadie Speight and this was the only bit of school life that I liked. It turned traditional classroom design inside out. This experience has stayed with me and was probably why my education took a natural path into architecture.
I went on to spend an intense year of long hours, at Hopkins architects, working on the Queen’s building next to Christopher Wren’s Emmanuel College in Cambridge. During this year, I learnt about the importance of detailing and materials. The studio taught me the importance of listening to the client on what they need, whilst listening to your own observations of history that help explain why each site has evolved the way it has.
This thinking, from Canterbury and Hopkins, underpins what we do as a practice today. Our clients come to us for contemporary designs based on tested traditions and history. We advance traditional typologies, solutions and techniques. We design to suit the future needs of each client and each site. This approach builds upon the knowledge of past generations and uses contemporary technology. It is as much about looking forwards as looking backwards.
We are able to apply this approach to many different situations. We work equally on loved, listed buildings and historic museums and unloved backland sites. Ensuring old buildings can have new lives and finding ways of unlocking slices of London for new housing are equally rewarding. Both types of site have backstories that can inform design solutions so that they evolve to be more viable.
Architecture as a career is a great journey that twists and turns (with frequent bumps). Once you start, you can’t really stop, it even includes your holidays.
You can find out more about Alex and Mowat & Company by visiting their website www.mowatandco.com