Designs for living from TV’s grand expert on architecture
KEVIN McCloud is hosting the Grand Designs Live exhibition this weekend at the NEC, but he found time to answer a few questions:
I started by pursuing a career in music, and then I went to Cambridge to take a degree in languages, which quickly changed to philosophy, then finally to the history of art and architecture. I then retrained as a designer and led two weird, parallel lives designing both in the theatre and in people’s houses. I’ve designed exhibitions, graphics, product and spaces, settling eventually – for no particular reason other than people bought the stuff – on lighting and furniture. I really enjoyed it all and had some great experiences.
My passion for design really stems from the huge influence my father was on me whilst growing up. He was a rocket scientist and engineer, who taught me that there is no such thing as fear of technology, a man who believed in the power of science and invention. He was a man who strewed bits of car engine over the kitchen table every weekend. I appreciated how things worked and were put together and the intricacies of their designs.
Self-Build doesn’t just happen on television. Every year between eight and 10,000 of us commission a new home for ourselves or even build it with our bare hands. The National Self- Build Association is dedicated to making that easier, cheaper and more accessible, which is why we’re launching a competition to design a budget self-build. We’re looking for designs for simple-to-build kit homes that can be adapted to suit any need and reconfigured and skinned to fit anywhere. This competition will appeal to all those brilliant architects, amateurs, building companies and kit home firms who believe that the future in housing is self-build.
A: Very easy – spend the money on the bones. Spend the money on the stuff that is there forever, not the frippery like kitchens and bathrooms which can be replaced. Think of the architecture, glazing and core materials
Our houses and taps and spoons all form part of the environment we make to surround ourselves with. And that connects to the immediate local environment like our street or town, which in turn is part of a global environment. We’ve stopped appreciating the human energy and the valuable natural resources that go into making everything around us and think of most of our possessions as throwaway items. Even a self-build on a shoestring can incorporate innovative ideas to showcase that low cost homes don’t have to sacrifice design and sustainability.
The show gets bigger and better every year making it hard to highlight just a few features. Eco-conscious visitors should look out for the handpicked selection of Kevin’s Green Heroes, which include the latest eco-innovations and technologies, some of which are being exclusively launched at the show. Sustainable, ecoliving should mean more choice not less, and each of the latest Green Heroes showcase this with emphasis on value and craftsmanship.
The Garden Designer of the Year Competition, back by popular demand at the NEC, will also be on display. I’m really looking forward to seeing this year’s Urban Kitchen Garden designs.
Last year’s competition was a really tough call.