Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Why I'm into what I'm into


Over the years my interests have lead me into housing. I started off working on design and architecture magazines many moons ago, but was always interested in function and how buildings and objects worked for actual human beings, rather than just looked good.

It has to be said this was a disadvantage working on certain magazines.

My curiosity led me towards study and research, and at one point I began a PhD on housing, first at the RCA where I had done my MA, then at the Bartlett, where I still teach occasionally. Fate intervened and I have been unable to complete to date, but the fundamentals of my research had been identified, and I am now working on them every day in practice as a local Councillor, rather than theoretically as an academic. For the present, this is totally absorbing, not least because I genuinely love and appreciate the people I work for, my constituents. Maybe one day it will help me write the thesis I envisioned; maybe it doesn't matter any more.

The potentially dangerous and challenging zone where architecture and politics meet have always fascinated me and was the subject of my MA thesis. I have early memories of some of the most extraordinary Modern buildings in London, such as the Royal College of Physicians which I frequented as a child and still have huge affection for, and various Modern houses that friends of my parents had built. These early experiences formed my normative values, and I have been involved in Docomomo, the Modern Movement conservation charity for many years, and have edited their magazine for a decade. So it was a particular delight to be elected local Councillor for the ward which embraces Trellick Tower and the Cheltenham Estate by Erno Goldfinger, Kensal House by Grey Wornum, and Swinbrooke Estate by Miller Tritton, as well as the quite gorgeous Pepler House by Clifford Wearden and Peter Deakins (who I have just met), which we are trying to save from demolition.

Life has ways of making all kinds of connections, and whatever my ambitions were years ago, I know that my various experiences and skills can be useful here and now, and what more could you want from life?

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