Old World Hotel commission complete…

On a sightseeing tour of a major capital city, on the metro, I struck up a conversation with a man who happened to be the city’s Town Planner. By the end of our train journey, I had been given the honour of being commissioned to design a new hotel on one of the city’s beautiful boulevards. As the train doors closed, I retrieved my leather-bound travel notebook from the side pocket of my rucksack and with my clutch pencil began to design the structure on a clean page.

The site for this hotel was on the corner of Mary Street and was a rather awkward area to work within, with buildings towering over it on two sides. But before I knew it (I think I heard the train doors open four or maybe five times as I was drawing) the hotel had been completely designed and I am happy to say that the whole thing came in under budget and 12 months ahead of time.

I saved a remarkable amount of money by drawing the design using a very slow shutter speed so it was unnecessary to spend time drawing cars and other traffic. This meant all the design time was used on the architectural detail on the building’s facade. I chose an antiquated design (palladian windows, faux arcadian columns, attic windows, belvederes and short balconies) in order to avoid the exorbitant costs of brand new, modern building features (evident in the surrounding buildings). The hotel is ordered around a central courtyard with internal floors illuminated by a 40 square metre skylight which floods the lower floors with natural light. Wooden ladders do away with the need for lifts, another cost saving feature of my design.

I returned my notebook – with the new design safely inside – to my rucksack and got off at the next station to buy a return ticket to where the Town Planner had explained his offices were located. I submitted my design and hurried to another office in that same building to collect my remittance which was soon locked away in the room safe at my pensione.

 Loading zone on Mary Street between 9am and 5pm.

Loading zone on Mary Street between 9am and 5pm.

Avant garde Art Museum commission complete…

I was recently honoured by being commissioned to design a new art museum on the corner of Mary Street. Instead of the long and drawn out tendering process, the city planner called me personally at home and asked me if I’d be interested in the exciting project, to which I immediately replied in the affirmative. It wasn’t all to go my way though. The city planner was rigid when it came to the build time and the only other consideration was that this project came in on budget, under all circumstances and no matter what.

After giving it some thought, I sat down at my desk and in what seemed like no time, I had the building designed and planned.

The cost was cut seventy-five percent by my decision to display the museum’s collection on the exterior instead of the interior. There are many advantages to this approach. Firstly, there is no need for an interior at all, so the entire structure is poured as one solid, monolithic concrete block (steel reinforced). This building therefore has no power or lighting service requirements, no lift or fire services, nor mechanical services (air conditioning).

The gallery director was at first horrified that should her entire collection of paintings be exposed to the elements on a constant basis, they would indeed suffer physical damage. I put her mind at ease by pointing out that all paintings are varnished by the artist for the very purpose of protecting the paint, and so there was definitely no reason to be concerned. I suggested the Drawings and Prints department be donated to a university or something, to be on the safe side.

The design time was reduced dramatically by my choice to place a no parking zone outside the corner location which dispensed with the tedious drawing of cars in the street.

No project of this dimension is free of a hiccup or two.

Firstly, pouring such an monumental block of concrete generated such heat that paint peeled from passing cars and workers complained of high temperatures. We also lost many rubber boots to the deep, wet cement. Secondly, we found that affixing the canvasses to solid steel-reinforced concrete to be an absolute headache as some of the workers forgot to use hammer set anchors and the nails just kept bending. Finally, with the gallery curators standing on the roof of a carpark on the opposite side of Mary Street using megaphones and calling “left a bit… right… up… down a bit… no DOWN… that’s it!…” it all began to get on the workers’ nerves resulting in many sick days being called in, which set the finish date back some.

A radical design, the cautious town planner argued for false doors to be added to pay lip service to the more traditional designs of the surrounding buildings.

However, the good news is that the Museum of Outside Art came in well under budget and three months earlier than expected, much to the pleasure of the City.

 Opening times: sunrise to sunset, rain hail or shine. Closed: Solar eclipses.

Opening times: sunrise to sunset, rain hail or shine. Closed: Solar eclipses.

What dogs see…

Trees have developed a unique way of attracting walking dogs to pee on them. Using a dog-eye filter on my compact camera, we can now see what dogs see. My research hasn’t answered why this phenomenon occurs so if you want a more satisfying explanation you’d have to contact a botanist who is interested in this type of thing. Or a vet.

Meet you on the corner of Mary Street…

I have been asked to design a building for a very narrow block in a busy city. This didn’t take long at all, and the terraced nature of the design has presented the opportunity for green zones for the tenants so they never have to use the dirty pavements when they want exercise. I have eradicated the need to draw lots of time consuming cars by establishing a no parking area straight outside the building and this helps the environment too. A lot of work went into the windows on this building because windows are the eyes of a building and people need to look out of them to see what’s going on. This building came in on budget and can accommodate hundreds of families and their pets.

 In case of emergency, make your way to the top floor where there is an escape tower which will carry you clear of the building at unbelievably high speed.

In case of emergency, make your way to the top floor where there is an escape tower which will carry you clear of the building at unbelievably high speed.

Drawing Words Exhibition at The British Council…

Visiting London? Then you may find yourself in the Trafalgar Square vicinity. In which case, bypass the big lions and check out some fine lines at the British Council’s Drawing Words Illustration Exhibition. Curated by Lauren Child, the exhibition shows selected contemporary British children’s book illustrators. And it’s nice and warm in there too.

Lauren Child and Phil Perry visit the show at the British Council.

Apartments newly opened on Mary Street…

I have been asked by the Mayor of a major city to design an apartment block on a very small square block on the corner of Mary Street. I sat down at my desk and in no time – before I knew it – I had designed a whole apartment block. By defining the entire street area around the building ‘no parking’ I was able to save a huge amount of design time on drawing cars and buses and that kind of thing. This building uses the latest building materials including bricks and steel joists and glass. It offers accommodation for approximately four complete families. This building came in well under budget and is close to the 29 bus.

 Residents off-street parking not shown.

Residents off-street parking not shown.

And the illustration prize goes to……

The Lauren Child Poetry Illustration Prize was celebrated at the House of Illustration in London last night. The prize is for illustrations of poems that are part of the Betjeman Poetry Prize for young poets. The entries were from all over the world and so only some of the finalists could be there in person last night. It was still standing room only and it was fantastic to hear some of the poets reading their work, and seeing the winning illustrations projected wall-size.

poetry illustration prize lauren child
poetry illustration prize lauren child
 Poet and prize judge Imtiaz Dharker reads one of her own poems.

Poet and prize judge Imtiaz Dharker reads one of her own poems.

 Poet Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite reads her poem  Oh! And What Inspired You To Write It?

Poet Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite reads her poem Oh! And What Inspired You To Write It?

 Illustrator James Bailey receives his award from Children’s Laureate Lauren Child.

Illustrator James Bailey receives his award from Children’s Laureate Lauren Child.