WE’VE GOT DESIGNS ON YOUR HOME
You have a building project in mind? Don’t skimp. Invest in a decent architect, says Angela Pertusini, and you won’t regret it
We all have an idea of what an architect does and — perhaps more worryingly — an image of what an architect is like. He (it will almost always be a he) is urban, effortlessly modish, wears a combination of Germanic spectacles, textured black clothes and a pained expression and knows absolutely nothing about budgets. He will design a home that promises to elevate you to the high plateau of cool that he occupies himself, but that you will not be able to afford. Even if you can afford it, will a boldly individual house be too, well, bold and individual to sell, should you ever decide to move?
So the question many people will ask is: do I need an architect? I would say undoubtedly yes, but I tend to visit projects where the design has gone extremely well. More importantly, the architect will be asking: does he need you? Anything short of a complete newbuild or a radical reworking and the chances are that many will walk away. The temptation of working for a major public body, large company or unusually moneyed arts foundation where budgets are more fluid and the scale is more heroic, means that domestic architecture can be regarded as more trouble than it is worth.
But get the relationship right, choose an architect with whom you feel you can have a meaningful working relationship, who is interested in your ideas and who understands your needs as much as their own aesthetic, and the results can be fabulous, even life-enhancing. The following list attempts to point the way towards some of the most exciting and creative architects still accepting residential commissions.
Clockwise, from bottom left: Battery Hill, Salcombe, (Stan Bolt); Dirk Cove (Niall McLaughlin); The Dairy House (SCDLP); Water Tower by day and by night (Loyn & Co)