One of the digital innovators currently rising to the fore, Tyrer can compute everything from complex stadium geometries to quality control
Associate director, Pattern Design
Part 1: 2009 Part 2: 2012
The judges had no doubt that Nick Tyrer’s design and software skills have played a vital part in the development of Pattern Design, a practice that is defined by its interesting designs in the highly competitive world of stadia architecture. He leads on computational design, research and development.
Judge Peter Morris pronounced it ‘sophisticated stuff’. Tyrer joined Pattern less than two years after the original directors split from Arup Associates. His rise to associate director in a short time was highlighted by his referee, Pattern founding director Lindsay Johnston: ‘In only six years, using his exceptional abilities, Nick has progressed from a Part 2 to an associate director, aged 31.’
Judge Kieren Majhail noted that Tyrer has skills that are rare and difficult to find. He discovered this at university where he taught himself computational design. But he loves it for the design potential and control – not as an end in itself. This is acknowledged by Johnston: ‘One of our best designers, Nick leads design and delivery of the complex geometries required for stadia concepts, facades and seating bowls.’ Tyrer uses these tools to focus in on fabrication and to ensure that control over essential design elements is not ceded to contractors.
The computational design work, and the research and development that go into it, have helped give this small practice an edge against far larger competitors. The first design bid led by Tyrer, for a FIFA World Cup stadia in Doha, Qatar, was successful (other winning Doha schemes were by Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects). And Tyrer is currently completing the design of a facade roof and bowl for another World Cup stadium in Doha.
In addition, Tyrer has been teaching in the Abstract Machines studio at Leeds Beckett University, working with innovative structures. A recent project with his students was shortlisted for a RIBA North East Award.
What would you most like to improve about the industry?
A greater integration and acceptance of technology and innovation across the design and construction process. Construction take-up is slow, which is mainly self-inflicted; inefficiencies, mistakes or a refusal to re-tool. Automation is on the horizon. As an architect you must be a master of your tools, to ensure they are not the master of you. If you cannot outperform the age of automation you will simply become a template user.
Which existing building or place would you most like to tackle?
Parc des Princes Stadium, Paris (Roger Tailibert, 1972), a totally overlooked architectural masterpiece in the centre of Paris. It would be a fascinating and intimidating challenge to preserve the stadium’s history and the innovative structural design, with beautiful flowing shapes of pre-stressed concrete, while ensuring it is functional, comfortable and safe for both club and spectators.