There’s much sensitivity to place shown in the RIBA South awards. From house to boathouse, pool to pavilion and a Maggie’s that reaches into the calm of a copse, these schemes pay close attention to views and setting. John Pardey sets the context. Click on the images to find out more
John Pardey: Some 20 years ago, with two very young children, we moved south following a long illness and a shocking murder on our local common (Wimbledon). Instead of city life, we decided to build a house and try to establish a practice. Our kids learnt to sail and thrived in a village school with cows leaning over the fence. Practice was a 10-year struggle, but worked out in the end. When I left London, some friends told me I would be a ‘provincial architect’ so I have spent every moment since making sure they were wrong.
The office is a series of converted barns (a cow was licking the window recently) but the pace is no less frantic than in a Clerkenwell hothouse. Some of the guys go windsurfing over the lunch break and most cycle to work.
Of course, the hot-spot for architects in the South is Winchester. Perhaps the catalyst was Colin Stansfield Smith who took over Hampshire County Architects in 1974 and set a new benchmark for school design that resulted in the RIBA Gold Medal in 1991. The talent he attracted spawned many practices, and many of those involved ended up teaching at Portsmouth School of Architecture in Colin’s funky new building. Hampshire Architects, now headed by Bob Wallbridge, still produces award-winning schools. Colin also attracted good architects to teach at Portsmouth who then set up their own practices – Design Engine, Perkins Ogden, Adam Knibb and Wendy Perring to name a few.
While Winchester dominates, Southampton is the place to watch. It is the fourth busiest port in the UK, has a great university and the second highest growth economy in Britain. It has over 50 parks and open spaces, and occupies a peninsula between the Test and Itchen rivers, 10km up the Southampton Water and sheltered by the Isle of Wight. It now needs some really great architecture.
Of course, most of our work is still in and around London, but after all those meetings, it’s great to jump on the train at Waterloo and vanish into Julian Barnes’ latest, or Phillip Hoare’s utterly brilliant ‘Leviathan’ (winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction) – now he lives in Southampton… •
John Pardey, John Pardey Architects, Lymington