Visit Kevin McClouds' review of Peckham House and the project seen on Channel 4's Grand Designs. Read More Here
Life Partner, Claire - she was project support and part time labourer. If you haven't got a Claire you'll need some really close friends to help with the low moments. Completely invaluable for all the support outside the building hours as much as during. Also critical to the detail completion of the design since she and I will be sharing the space... One hopes... Met her by chance when filming a tango dancing performance.
The site manager, Olly - right after the need for psychological support of a ‘life partner’ you are going to need an Olly, replete with charm and vision. Trying to make the impossible happen on a tight budget with amateur help is a hell of a tall order. Olly's passion carried his eloquent intelligence a huge distance in all our struggles. He had ideas and he had understanding, and, was great at getting it done. He was an architectural year out student wanting practical experience and passed onto me by Mooarc.
Master Craftsman, Bin - In our metal based build a guy with an engineering skill rumbustuosly applied was ideal (buildings will always be a little approximate). Also unlike many, his standard answer to each proposed idea was to “... give it a go...” and then come with modifications to help it when necessary. I found him, after a number of interviews, via gumtree.com (originally the travelling antipodeans' labour exchange)
Master Woodsman, Abdul - Very resourceful fellow with fantastic wood working skills and always relished a fresh challenge. Made the sycamore we felled on site into a beautiful floor, turned raw oak into finished perfection and made a draw that's a basin. He was an old school friend of Olly's.
General labourer, Ryan - Great guy, young and as yet not fully skilled up so at the right price he fitted in perfectly to sort out lots of little twiddly bits, work weird hours and always do so with a smile. One sour puss in the group will affect everyone – the ‘general labourers’ are most likely to be it – Ryan wasn't and it really counts. He was a friend of Abdul's.
Occasional Woodsman, Alan - Fantastic guy, was drawn in for various panic deadlines, beautiful workmanship and great conversationalist. Used to run a contractor but got fed up trying to find good staff. Referred to me by the architect.
Occasional skilled labourer, Abdulla - Another great find, also drawn in for various elements of the project. A calm methodical approach to anything we asked. Friend of Abdul.
Occasional Labourer, Franky - Such a warm guy gently circling the planet and when he was within reach would come and help out. Always smiling, always happy to help. An old friend of mine.
Occasional Bricky/Labourer, Kev - Great local guy who laid beautiful bricks and helped out. Also kept an eye on the site for us, even moving a delivery left on the pavement one weekend in our absence. Stuck his head through the hoarding asking for work.
Occasional labourer, Stacey - Another local guy with a heart of gold and sidestepped by the system – all too used to being screamed at on building sites so staggered by ours where not only we talked but also thanked people for doing things. He too just came on site asking for work, and he too has helped ‘protect’ our house in our absence.
Occasional Steelworker, Martin - His first job since leaving the South African bush where he grew up, big solid guy acting like a mobile crane. Found him on gumtree.
Occasional labourer, Welsey - (Chris) another architecture student moonlighting with some practical experience whilst doing his part 2. Friend of Ollie's.
Friends Press ganged in to help - Franco, Dave, Lynney, Jess, Bert, Mark, Chris, Patrick, Brian, Patrick, Nell, Polly, Pelham, Stena, Zoe, Bard, Phil, Piers, Ali, Chantal, Emma, Richard, Tim, Richard, Toby
Be Inspired – in my case by the architect Richard Paxton. It was his amazing charisma and vision that broadened my horizons. I abandoned plans to renovate something conventional to try a new build on some wasteland. Introduced to him by my sister when she worked for him as an architect.
For 25 years the meia team have been designing, making and installing bespoke moving elements in architecture and are now considered world leaders in the creation of high quality automated moving architectural elements. Our unique range includes roofs, floors, windows, walls and access systems.
Normally the architect and the engineer with steering from a quantity surveyor/client.
In our case due to my very hands on intent and a supreme lack of money we had a much more collaborative approach. And, don't forget the planners and the conservation officers – without their positive contribution it'll be a very very hard process.
Richard was my mentor whilst some ex employees of his, Alex Flower and Jamie Falla of Mooarc came on board as the project architects, during this time Alex left to form her own practice and at this phase she helped with much of the fitout..
The engineers who gave sense to my schemes and maths to building control were Andy Downey and Martin Shortt of the Elliot Wood Partnership. I had worked with them on various Paxton projects and they were never scared to innovate.
Party wall surveyors – Martin Eastment dealt with one of the most contentious parts of our project and kept my contact with a particularly obnoxious neighbour to a minimum. He was used to many a headache that all of the Paxton projects seem to warrant.
Suppliers – choose the right suppliers and they will go a long way to help you design in their product in the best way possible.
And, don't forget those planners. Kieran Bartlett and Julie Greer of Southwark council were hard to please so it took quite a few modifications and a trip to one of Rik's previous houses before they began to trust us.
The councillors – for our first application I assumed that the councillors would vote for a scheme their officers recommended. No, politics and some neighbourfed storytelling got heavily in the way and we failed; next time round I was much more proactive and made sure everyone had the ‘full’ picture.
This is perhaps the most famous of our installations, as Grand Designs featured it with great delight back in 2005 and have not stopped re-showing it since, in the UK and across the globe.
Due to planning restrictions this roof was fitted to a house that was permitted no windows to the front or side walls, and hence the main space relies entirely on the opening roof for its light, ambiance, and ventilation.
Its size is not huge and equates to roughly 25% of the area of the room beneath, but it has an impact that significantly transforms the entire house. Many would say such a roof is the key to unlocking an otherwise impossible site for development.
With a floor to ceiling height in the room below of approximately 3m this roof has three panes and a super low profile pitch. The roof slides away from the hole completely or can be left almost closed in a vent position, which opens the seals without allowing rainwater ingress.
Although now ten years old the roof still looks as new, and will do for many decades to come, due to the use of stainless steel in its construction.
Whether open in the day for the sun or at night for the stars, the breeze and the view says it all.