designers boiler house rooms avanti consulting engineers
The presenter of the ever popular Grand Designs has lent his watchful and withering expressions to many a building project. The show follows some of Britain’s most ambitious self-building projects, as individuals attempt to design and construct the home of their dreams (you can currently catch it on More4 and 4oD). McCloud also hosts the Grand Designs Live London show (), which takes place at Excel in spring, and spearheads Grand Designs magazine.
Trends are interesting things. They’re like fish. They appear and then they go off very quickly. I think Rem Koolhaas once said architecture takes so long that if you try and follow a trend, by the time you have finished, the building it will be out of date. I’m all for people following their autobiographies, expressing themselves in their homes.
What magazines do is underline that if I use that colour or buy that fake fur rug, I will be happier and win the approval of my friends. Which is possibly true but it is more interesting if you do your thing and find your way. Build a home that reflects your personality, which is much more individual.
Keep them fresh – paint the walls. Wash and polish the windows, that helps. Wash the curtains, steam clean things, keep them fresh and not cruddy, brown and grey. You can rent a steam cleaner that will renew your home. You don’t even need to paint, you can wash your walls and the stains come off, just like people and clothes. Also, go and buy stuff that is beautiful and crafted.
My argument is: is it better to buy five pairs of trainers at £100 each that last you a year each or one pair of boots that will last you 15 years? I think you’ll find the latter represents much better value for money. The same goes for good quality furniture.
I keep picking up magazines with lots of pics of large rooms in big houses with smouldering fires and uncomfortable-looking 17th-century furniture and six bare light bulbs on rather trendy-looking cable. It’s a great look for restaurants and clothes shops but if you want to live there, firstly, these places have been styled within an inch of their lives, second, they are third homes for people who never spend time there.
Three, they have massive great gas boilers hidden away, feeding into underfloor heating underneath the rotting floorboards. Four, they are in southern Italy. So I think in northern Europe we need to concentrate on a few more cushions and a log burner, something a bit more comfy.
When people start talking about taps that cost a thousand pounds each. Or when anybody says about any item: ‘I have to have it.’ It means they are obsessed with the ownership of something rather than creating an interesting, stimulating environment. Architecture and design is all about making spaces that are beautiful, stimulating, durable, fun, exciting, joyful. The word ‘grand’ is in the title of the series but we shouldn’t be too wound up about making something big for the sake of it.
Yes, I would advise them not to do a large project. I’d advise them to do a reasonably small one or a modest one because, generally speaking, the homes we do are pretty big where two people live. It doesn’t matter how many eco gadgets you fit in, it will still consume vast quantities of energy for those two people. Better to build something modest you could extend or maybe even go on holiday a bit more often because you’ve got more money left over.
It all depends where it is – buildings are about people and places. It might be sticking an extension on the back of a two-bed place in Stoke-on-Trent. It might be me building a glass box that projects over a cliff in northern Canada. I would always design a building to correspond to where it is. The great excitement about design is you never know where it is going to lead you until you begin. To ask an architect to design a house for nowhere is impossible.
My languages are pretty good? That’s incredibly patronising [laughing] – they’re bloody good. My French is almost fluent, my Italian used to be. My German is grotesquely bad. The location would perhaps be an old farmhouse on a hilltop in Tuscany, solar panels, view of the setting sun – that would do me.
The perfect home happens because of the location. The word perfect is flawed, we have to use right, appropriate or beautiful. They say location, location, location but the point of design is they can take pretty crappy locations and make beautiful things of them.
I haven’t got sick building syndrome yet and don’t think I will because our homes are the most powerful and important pieces of architecture we are ever going to experience. I am interested in the way we try to improve our environment and make sense of it every day of our lives. Architects and designers have got that switch in their brain, permanently in the on position, and I’m afraid I include myself in that category.
Read more articles here: