• Ivan Jordan RIBA

Blasts from the Past and Curved Walls

What a day. Architecture in many varied forms all day - review, design, samples, procurement, contracts. Started 8.20 at a site that I did a lot of design for while employed in a practice a couple of years back. Then 10:00 to meet potential new clients at a lovely secluded site in East Devon, and in the afternoon couple of hours on site with builders, clients and a spray can, and a visit to kitchen designers and suppliers ( ) to collect samples and discussion of procurement. Oh yes, and then dropping off a contract to another client. It doesn't stop, and it's great to be busy.

The first visit was to a site and house that I designed a major intervention for. Having tendered for the job, I had to leave the practice - It was the bad old days of a banking crisis, remember then? No need, it's still with us.

Yesterday I called the (ex) client out of the blue to ask how the project had gone on site. Very well, apparently. So I schlepped out there this am with my wide-angle and took some shots for the portfolio. It is beautiful - angular, modern, necessarily complex geometry made to look simple. To paraphrase The Big Lebowski: It really ties place together. Having worked on it intensely for several months, and then having no knowledge of it for 2+ years, was quite a buzz. It's always exciting to see one's creations made real, but without having spent any time on site was particularly intense. And, of course, for the clients to be so pleased with it is very special. And they stayed with it: entrance bridge over a pool; immense glazing to the stair tower etc.

Due to the nature of employment, I won't post any pictures just yet. But if anyone wants to see some surprisingly modern architecture in east Devon, with nods to Luis Barragan, drop me an email -

Skip forward a few hours and I was on site again, this time working with the builders and clients on a curved wall between kitchen and lounge. It has been designed with niches to hold books (or porcelain dogs?), flowers, bottles.. like shrines.

Above and right: the curved wall, unadorned. The yellow spray shows where the niches will be cut. I love this way of working, on site. It has been designed in drawn and modelled form, but there is nothing so real as the real thing.

Whilst there, we looked at roofing tile samples, and took a first chance to check out the new double height space we have created for the new stair in the centre of the building - with a rooflight above to throw light down into the heart of the home. This is going to be a delightful curved stair - NOT a spiral stair, I find that only the most generously proportioned spirals are comfortable - and we want a LOT more than just comfortable, we want a graceful, flowing stair.

Which reminds me - whoever stole my German Detail magazine "Treppen" issue of about 2002, presumably from Plymouth Hoe Centre studio, can I have it back please? There were some delicious staircases ( which would be a terrible name for a band) in it. Stairs are a microcosm, or at least a great expression of architecture, at human scale. There is a fantastic opportunity here. And no, I don't want just to throw toughened cantilevered glass steps at it: beautiful detail - yes please. Cliche - no thanks.

There. That is my head on the block. Again.

And of course, I couldn't resist taking some pics of the superstructure as it rears up.

It's going very well.

Architecture | Design | Eco-Building  | Tendering | Contract Administration 

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