The Isle of Wight may be the most southerly tip of this region but, says Colman Cotter, its influences come from across the world
Like many architects, we often encounter the ‘not in keeping’ criticism of new designs. Here on the Isle of Wight we challenge this comment by simply asking what is in keeping? As well as historic buildings such as Osborne House and Quarr Abbey, the island has influences from around the world. Some places may have their own leaning, like Ventnor on the south coast towards art deco, but in the spaces between is a collection of contemporary bespoke homes for design literate clients, many from London.
Our scattered practices have a tendency to do more than straight architecture; at Modh we offer graphic design as well. As elsewhere, each firm specialises – in conservation, housing and so on. But every year Isle of Wight architects gather at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes to celebrate architecture and conservation projects with a wider audience. The Isle of Wight branch of the RIBA may be small but it supports and binds these practices.
The next major opportunity on the horizon is the Isle of Wight Council regeneration programme following a consultation last summer called ‘Wight we Want’. A workshop for ideas for Newport harbour is just one of the strands. The programme is aiming for large scale change on some important local sites as well as smaller interventions where appropriate. The Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration team says it is committed to raising design ambitions for the island and ensuring new development is attractive and responsive to the historical and geographical context, while holding its own in exemplary design and new architecture.
As architects here we welcome contributions from the mainland and this summer will showcase work both by students who study across the water at Portsmouth architecture school, and the finalists of the Young Designer Awards. We hope this will help raise the aspirations of the local community about what can be achieved through high quality architecture.
Colman Cotter is director of Modh Design
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dn-a architects for Property & Brockton Capital
Sarah Griffiths + Amin Taha for private client
MICA Architects for The Queen’s College, Oxford
Design Engine Architects Ltd for St Peter’s College, Oxford
PAD Studio for Canoe Lake Leisure
Make Architects for The University of Oxford
Gregory Phillips Architects for private client