Chapter 2 of 25
Idea For A City Centre
This ﬁrst image is very important to us as an ofﬁce. There's a method of collaboration this
particular image described. Generic city was set in the context of interest we had at the time
we had as students, in the physical city and the impact of that on the way we worked as
architects; and the impact was both in terms of the brief that was almost dictated to us by the
given place and city we were working in, and this particular image, with apologies to
Mondriaan, takes his Broadway Boogie Woogie and reconstructs it as an idea about a city
centre, densities, block sizes and edges.
And the key notion we had of collaboration which comes out of an academic environment in
which we still worked, was that drawings and ideas are exchanged between us, originally the
four of us and now a wider group of people, and they are the commodity with which we deal.
The ofﬁce motto is 'if it's not drawn it can‘t be discussed'. That's a key method of how we
work and that I think will come through a series of projects that I'll talk about in a moment.
So it's this notion of collaboration among four people, and now a greater number, where your
individual creativity isn't stiﬂed, it isn't the lowest possible common denominator, you're
working on your own pushing ideas forward, and yet other people are operating critically on
your work and helping to inform and move you forward.
We left college in '86 — a very busy and blooming time — the four of us went out into busy and
blooming London and worked for a busy and blooming practice, Building Design Partnership.
In '89 we decided to set up on our own. We got an ofﬁce in Charlotte Street.