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

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

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


So it seems that the happiest place to live in the UK according to the recent Office of National Statistics are the Western Isles. Given the debate about the validity of measuring happiness why are Eilean Siar, Orkney & Shetland top of the list followed by Rutland and Anglesey happy places to be?  I suppose the answer is shaped by the fact that the bottom three is Swansea, County Durham

Looking & Seeing – No 14

Having an HD digital camera on your IPhone is great but if you really want to ‘see’ something you have to use a sketchbook. Here is a drawing made under extreme conditions, standing on the walls of Dubrovnik in 35 degrees, drawing as we circumnavigated the city defensive walls. What is magical about the city is the way it conveys its ‘DNA’. Originally a Roman city built between the cliffs

Struggling to stay up in orbit

I have to say to I agree with most of the critics on the Orbit. Like most towers it’s a vanity, ego driven project made even more pointless by its total lack of function and purpose. Balmond and Kapoor tell us that they wanted to ‘deconstruct’ the idea of tower. Why? What we are left with is a very awkward, poorly composed structure which looks like its struggling to stay