There are times

When everything seems just perfect. Claude Monet’s house and garden is just such a place. From a narrow street we enter through a one room deep house extended across the northern edge of a wonderful walled garden. Full of colour and shape the garden gently tilts down towards the famous lily pond and Japanese bridge he built during his 46 years in the house. To be able to shape your

Random things of beauty – No 2001

A model of the Pan Am Space Clipper ‘Orion’ from Stanley Kubrik’s film 2001 A Space Odyssey. I was 11 when I first saw this film and it still haunts me. The famous docking sequence with Space Station 1 200 miles above the Earth, to Johann Strauss II’s best-known waltz, The Blue Danube and made without CGI is still for me one of the most beautiful things I have ever

Can apps help you with your wellbeing?

We read a great article in the Guardian this week about the growth, design and effectiveness of mindfulness apps from Amy Fleming. Amy writes about ‘Spire’ a wellness tracker that you wear next to abdomen or chest to track breathing. It links to your smart phone or watch and lets you know when you are not breathing correctly and thus feeling stressed. It costs about £300. It doesn’t teach you

A model of the future

For some while now I have been interested in New Urbanism. Not so much the neo classical position taken by but the process of master planning undertaken by studios such as Urban Design Associates and Duanny Platter Zyberk. I like the plot driven approach, run in parallel with say something like a pattern book. With this approach we don’t have to rely too much on any place making attributes of

West Gorton gets go ahead

Last week my master plan for Manchester’s first low carbon community was awarded Outline Planning Permission by Manchester City Council. The master plan is a great example of how to ‘re-stitch’ a Radburn plan back into a more recognisable community. Re-linking roads, removing cul-de-sacs and reconfiguring blocks to ensure that there is clearly defined, defensible space, which is clear and unambiguous. In other words making sure there are proper fronts

Productive Simplicity

This is one of my favourite expressions. Its also the key to all creative work. If you think creatively for a living, its imperative that you understand how you manage and control creative energy. Good quality work completed quickly doesn’t come from anxiety states, nor does it come being under utilised or simply bored. When you work with and lead creative people you need to be very conscious to keeping them

Naturally Beautiful

This week I have been working on a nice little design project in Cheltenham.  The Regency character of the town has prompted to look again at proportions and harmonic ratios such as the ‘Golden Section’. It’s been years since I looked at this. In fact probably not since Year One at Architecture School. We were all asked to fill a sheet of paper with drawn rectangles. They weren’t measured they

Master Planning – A step by step guide

We are working through interesting times. What ever we did before, we now need to be quicker, more decisive, while continuing to provide quality for smaller fees. I have been arguing for some time that the process driven, step-by-step master planning process, we inherited from the CABE, The Urban Design Compendium  and most of the urban design profession needs to change. It‘s far too clunky, slow to respond, short of