Architecture Masters – An Archive

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In 2017 I setup the Architecture Masters podcast, which later became the podcast for the London Festival of Architecture. The podcast ran for over three years.

There were relatively few architecture podcasts around at the time. But despite the name, it was never really intended to be a podcast about architecture. I was more interested in the people behind the architecture.

The episodes are posted here as a more permanent archive. Many of the architects will have moved on from the work they were doing at the time, or their studios grown or changed – but hopefully the episodes stand as a bit of an oral history of the profession at a certain time and place.

In 2018, with support from the British Council, I travelled too Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya to record episodes there as part of the 2018 London Festival of Architecture with its theme of identity.

In the beginning, all the episodes were recorded in the studio or office of the architects involved. I felt this was important. Not only was it more enjoyable for me to be shown around their studios – I think people talk more freely and openly in their own space.

I was really grateful for the time people gave up to record the episodes, and the trust many showed in telling quite personal stories – often of failure and struggle. In return I laboured over the editing for hours – trying to do justice to the stories they were telling.

In 2020 when the pandemic struck, I pivoted the format to record remotely. In those early days of zoom, the audio is was little less crisp, and the editing a little looser as I rushed to get episodes out. But hopefully those episodes too tell a different story.

By late 2020 there were many more architecture podcasts around providing opportunities for architects to talk about architecture. There are still precious few where architects are the subject not just the speaker.

You might also be interested in my new podcast The Golden Hour Project.

** December 2023 – Episodes are still being uploaded to the archive **

Frank Anatole​, Principal Architect, Network Rail – Episode 59

For this episode of Architecture Masters we’re joined by Frank Anatole, Principal Architect at Network Rail.

Network Rail oversees a vast network of built environment infrastructure across the UK including over 2,500 stations, 30,000 bridges and tunnels, as well as countless maintenance depots, signal boxes and other infrastructure buildings that all too often go unseen.

Frank and his team don’t generally design new projects themselves – much of that is done by external architecture practices – but rather they oversee the process of setting design standards, policy and long-term planning, as well as the process of assuring that external designs are fit for purpose.

But both Frank and his colleague Anthony Dewar, Network Rail’s Professional Head of Buildings and Architecture, have focused improving on the organisation’s design ambition, including through ambitious new design principles.

Frank Anatole
Frank Anatole. Image Credit: Julia Anatole

All forms of design have long played a role in the evolution in British Railways. The iconic double arrow logo, originally of British Rail, is still one of the countries most recognised logos. And an exhibition at the Design Museum in London currently celebrates the graphic design legacy of Margaret Calvert’s work on the railways.

Frank started his career working at Hampshire County Council Architects, before spending a formative period working in Paris on a number of French Station designs. Back in the UK he worked for a number of practices, including a decade at Marks Barfield where he worked on the London Eye, and i360 in Brighton,

I joined Frank down the line from his home in Kent.

Dale Sinclair, Director of Innovation, Aecom – Episode 58

On the programme today we’re joined by Dale Sinclair, Director of Innovation for the global infrastructure consultancy Aecom.

Over the years much of Dale’s work has focused on the future of the architecture profession, and much of our conversation today involves future gazing.

Dale Sinclair
Dale Sinclair. Image courtesy of the practice

Dale grew up in Edinburgh and went on to study architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow.

I first met Dale in 2012 whilst I was working at the RIBA, and he was chairing the committee overhauling the RIBA’s Plan of Work, the document that sets out the formal stages of procuring, designing and constructing buildings. The changes dale steered through in the run up to 2013 were the most significant change since the plan of work’s introduction in 1963 – taking into account many of the profession’s new ways of working and new procurement methods. He subsequently authored the most recent set of changes to the Plan of Work in 2020.

Dale literally wrote the book on the RIBA Plan of Work, as well as authoring many other titles on the profession including The Lead Designers Handbook and Leading the Team: An Architects Guide to Design Management.

Dale joined Aecom in 2014 as Director of Technical Practice after 10 years as a Director of Dyer Architects, and 16 years as an Associate Director at BDP.

Sheng-Yuan Huang – Episode 57

On the programme this week we’re joined by Sheng-Yuan Huang founder of Fieldoffice Architects.

Sheng-Yuan Huang. Image courtesy of the practice.

Sheng-Yuan was born in Taipai and initially studied architecture at Tunghai University in Taichung – Taiwan’s second city – where he graduated in 1986.

Taiwan – officially the Republic of China – was governed under Martial Law until 1987, which marked the start of a transition to more democratic freedoms. It was perhaps this early desire for greater freedom which led him in 1989 to the United States, where he later gained his Masters Degree in Architecture at Yale.

He subsequently stayed on in the States and worked for Eric Owen Moss Architects in Los Angeles and then taught at North Carolina State University, before returning to Taiwan in 1993, having failed to find the freedom he was looking for.

Sheng-Yuan founded Fieldoffice Architects in 1994 in Yilan, a rural town in North East Taiwan, where the practice has pursued mainly community driven projects.

Indeed, the vast majority of the practice’s work is extremely local – with virtually all projects taking place within a 30 minute drive of the studio. Despite this Sheng-Yuan’s world has been widely exhibited internationally – including at the 2018 Venice Biennale with the exhibition ‘ Living with Sky, Water and Mountain: Making Places in Yilan.

My colleague Andre Holmqvist visited Taiwan in February this year with support from a British Council grant. You can find Andre’s write-up in the Views Pages off the LFA website.

Last month I spoke to Professor Sheng-Yuan Huang down the line from the practice’s offices in rural Yilan.

Sofie De Caigny, Director, Flanders Architecture Institute – Episode 56

On the programme this week we’re joined by Sofie De Caigny, Director of VAi, the Flanders Architecture Institute.

The VAi is based in Antwerp – across two buildings – with gallery space and public programmes taking place in the International Arts Campus deSingel.

As well as their extensive public programme, every two years the institute produces the Flanders Architecture Review, a major publication presenting a generous selection of recently completed projects across Flanders and Brussels. Now in its 14th edition the review presents as snapshot of the architecture of a certain place and time, with an analysis of the trends and successes.

I spoke to Sofie last week down the line from Antwerp, where the VAi’s offices are slowly starting to re-open.

Giovanna Borasi, Director, Canadian Centre for Architecture – Episode 55

For the eleventh episode of Architecture Masters at Home, we’re joined by Giovanna Borasi, Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

Giovanna joined the CCA in 2005 as the Curator for Contemporary Architecture, going on to become Chief Curator in 2014 and then Director of the Centre at the beginning of this year.

Giovanna Borasi. Image courtesy CCA.

Having first trained as an architect in Milan, in her native Italy, she went on to work as editor of the Italian architecture magazine Lotus International.

Giovanna has an impressive track record of exhibitions, but it was her highly acclaimed 2011 CCA exhibition, Imperfect Health: The Medicalisation of Architecture, co-curated with the Centre’s previous Director Mirko Zardini, that rather presciently explored projects and research in relation to health issues including disease and epidemics.

Indeed, as well as its strong exhibitions and curatorial programme, research is central to the CCA’s mission of making architecture a public concern.

The CCA was founded in 1979 by the Canadian Architect and philanthropist Phyllis Lambert, consciously as an international centre for architecture, rather than say, a museum of architecture or an institute for architects.

Her family’s business interests included the Seagram Company. In 1954 Phyllis Lambert, whilst still in her 20s was instrumental in persuading the company to change architects and commission Mies Van De Rohe to design the firms US headquarters – resulting in the iconic Seagram Building in Midtown Manhattan

While the CCA’s building in Montreal is temporarily closed -including its museum galleries, bookstore, and study room – the CCA continues its public programme, holding conversations, and actively publishes the research and discussions it is involved with.

Roger Hawkins, Co-Founder, Hawkins\Brown – Episode 54

On this week’s Architecture Masters at Home we’re joined by Roger Hawkins, co-founder of Hawkins\Brown.

Russel Brown and Roger Hawkins founded the firm in 1988 after having worked together at Rock Townsend in the 1980s.

Roger Hawkins. image courtesy of the practice

The two partners started the firm with an initial determination, as they saw it, not to get trapped working on smaller residential projects.

The strategy paid off. The firm is now one of the ten largest architecture practices in the UK according to the AJ100 list, and they continue to work on large scale projects – including three key stations for London’s huge Crossrail project.

The firm is also working on the Thames Tideway – now one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects – to modernise the 150-year old Bazalgette-designed network of underground sewers.

When London’s original sewerage system was developed, it changed the look and character of the city with the creation of the Chelsea, Victoria and Albert Embankments.

In a similar way, the Tideway scheme will create new areas of public realm along the foreshore of the River Thames – with Hawkins\Brown leading the design of these new public spaces.

We joined Roger down the line from his home. You can listen to the episode below, or why not subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Ellie Stathaki, Architecture Editor, Wallpaper* Magazine – Episode 53

For the ninth episode of the LFA’s Architecture Masters at Home, we’re joined by Ellie Stathaki, Architecture Editor at Wallpaper* Magazine.

Ellie Stathaki. (c) Anna Stathaki

Wallpaper* Magazine was founded in 1996 and quickly became one of the world’s most influential international lifestyle titles.

Wallpaper* – with tagline “the stuff that refines you” covers design and architecture, fashion, travel, art, and lifestyle in its own super stylish way.

Ellie studied architecture in Greece, before moving to London in 2002 to continue her studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture and later joined Wallpaper* in 2006.

Laura King, Director, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates – Episode 52

For the eighth episode of Architecture Masters at Home, we’re joined by Laura King, Director at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London.

Over the last few weeks many of us have been getting used to the new normal of remote working. But for many global architecture firms like KPF, working on international projects with clients and design teams based across the world, remote working – at least between offices – is nothing new.

For this episode also wanted to discuss some of the broader communications issues related to remote working – and how international experience might help equip you for the challenges we’re all now facing.

Yinka Illori – Episode 51

For our seventh episode of Architecture Masters at Home we’re joined by the artist-designer Yinka Ilori – described by The Financial Times as one of the world’s most in demand designers.

Born in London, much of his work references his West African heritage.

Yinka established his studio in 2017 with a loan from the Prince’s Trust, producing up-cycled furniture that were as much furniture as works of art.

In 2018 he won the LFA’s competition with Wandsworth Council to improve a gloomy underpass of the Thessaly Road Railway Bridge in Battersea. The competition called for designs to improve the experience for pedestrians and cyclists. His winning concept Happy Streets was designed and delivered for the 2019 LFA and transformed the underpass into a riot of colour.

Yinka Illori, Image courtesy of the practice.

Yinka together with architects Pricegore also won the LFA’s 2019 competition for the LFA’s second Dulwich Pavilion to be placed in the grounds of the John Soane-designed gallery for the duration the festival.

Their winning entry – the Colour Palace – proved a huge success attracting nearly 100,000 visitors to the south London gallery. The pavilion’s lattice structure and geometric patterns were described as mesmerising by The Guardian.

Yinka is now in huge demand from companies around the world from fashion brands to television stations.

With his studios space now closed, we joined Yinka down the line from his London home.

Maria Louise Long – Episode 50

For the sixth episode of Architecture Masters at Home, we’re joined by Maria Louise Long, Senior Associate at Chris Dyson Architects.

Maria Louise Long. Image courtesy of the practice.
Maria Louise grew up in South West Ireland and went on to study architecture at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture in Aberdeen before moving to London some 10 years ago in search of work during the global financial crisis.

She joined Chris Dyson Architects after a short period working on a construction site – and then worked her way up from Part 2 student to Senior Associate – now leading many of the practices projects

Maria Louise Long. Image courtesy of the practice.

The practice, founded in 2004, has won great acclaim for its conservation and restoration work, and is increasingly working on larger commercial schemes. We spoke to Chris in episode 5, back in 2017.

Having outgrown their original studio, in 2014 the studios moved to a former pub – The Queen’s Head – on the corner of Commercial Street and Fashion Street in London’s Spitalfields. The practice proceeded to completely re-design, overhaul and restore the building whilst working from it.

Nick McKeogh & Peter Murray – Architecture Masters at Home – Episode 49

For the fifth episode of Architecture Masters at Home, we’re joined by Peter Murray and Nick McKeogh.

Like many organisations trying to adapt to these challenging and quickly changing circumstances, at the LFA we’ve naturally been re-examining our core purpose and thinking about how we can continue to support the profession and the wider city.

The LFA was founded by Peter Murray in 2004, and New London Architecture co-founded in 2005 by Peter and Nick McKeogh. Since those early days the NLA as supported the festival. But more recently the two have more formally joined forces.

For this episode we wanted to speak to Nick and Peter, about the early days of NLA and the festival, and what we and the wider profession can learn from the challenges of the past.

Will Hurst, Managing Editor, Architects’ Journal (Architecture Masters at Home) – Episode 48

In Episode 4 of Architecture Masters at Home we’re joined by the Managing Editor of the Architects’ Journal, Will Hurst. Founded in 1895, the AJ remains the journal of record for the architecture profession in the UK.

We talk about the role of a Managing Editor, about producing an entire issue from home, and balancing the resources of investigative journalism with running a profitable magazine.

And then we talk about Will’s investigative reporting into the Garden Bridge, as well as some of the AJ’s recent campaigns.

Architecture Masters at Home – Steven Harding – Episode 47

For the third episode of Architecture Masters at Home we’re joined by Steven Harding, founder of Goodfellow Communications. Goodfellow run the press and PR for the LFA, helping the festival and our partners reach new audiences, both during the festival and throughout the year.

Tamsie and Owen talk to Steven about the importance of good communications in architecture, starting your own business from your dining room table – and being back there.

Architecture Masters at Home 2 – Episode 46

Welcome to the second episode of our new format podcast – Architecture Masters at Home.

In this episode LFA Director Tamsie Thomson and LFA Deputy Director Owen Wainhouse discuss this year’s festival theme of ‘power’ and how it relates to architecture – particularly in our new world of working from home.

Every year the London Festival of Architecture takes a different theme to inspire its vast programme of public events. You can read more about our theme announcement here as well as a range of views on our theme in the LFA’s Views pages.

We think it’s important to talk – and we’d love to hear from you with your ideas and suggestions. You can get in touch by email, twitter or by regular phone.

Intro Architecture Masters at Home – Episode 45

From our homes to yours. Welcome to our new format festival podcast – ‘Architecture Masters at Home’. Whilst we all get accustomed to working from home, we wanted to bring you some insight from the festival and our key partners as we look at how the wider architecture sector adapts to working in different ways – and spending much more time at home.

This is the first in a series of shorter and much more frequent podcasts as we talk to architecture masters at home.

For our first episode we’re joined by Director of the LFA, Tamsie Thomson, to talk about running festivals in a world where people have to stay at home.

We talk about being nimble, supporting our profession and some of the exciting plans that our community have lined-up for the festival.

Stay safe – and don’t hesitate to get in touch…

Paul Priestman, Co-Founder, PriestmanGoode – Episode 44

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.

On Architecture Masters we’ve talked to many architects who have turned their hand to product design and furniture design. For this week’s episode we wanted to explore the work of a designer who’s turned their attention to the spaces we inhabit.

Patrik Schumacher, Principal, Zaha Hadid Architects – Episode 43

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 Fra

Patrik Schumacher. Image courtesy of the practice.

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.

Deborah Saunt, Co-Founder, DSDHA – Episode 42

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.

Deborah Saunt. Image curtsey of the practice

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.

Hattie Hartman, Sustainability Editor, Architects’ Journal – Episode 41

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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