Monday, 10 May 2010

Visit to Wilkinson Eyre Offices - 5 May 2010

It was both a pleasure and a privilege for the Master and a small group of the Company to be welcomed by Chris Wilkinson to their office - the stylish ‘modern’ building by YRM and Fitzroy Robinson, 1976 -79.

Chris gave us an introduction to their work and practice, over a glass of wine, and then a tour to see the environment, meet some of the staff and hear about their projects. This was followed by a screen presentation reviewing the different sectors in which the office was engaged - commercial, offices, schools and some housing; and also a continued interest in bridge work, following the masterful achievement at Gateshead/Newcastle. 

All of the projects were creative and design was aided by models, and wide range of computer programmes. Teams were responsible for the different projects, and the Partners were very much involved through the studios. Overseas work was important, including commercial and mixed use projects in China. A very tall office and hotel tower (230 m ?) was nearing completion in Shanghai. In Singapore working with the landscape designer, two very large ‘glass houses’ in a new parkland were well on their way. 

The technical aspects of achieving ‘sustainability’ were fundamental to all of the design work, as shown in their glass house at Kew. Wilkinson and Eyre were awarded one of the first school projects under the BSF programme, which showed an imaginative approach to the physical planning and also allowed for repetition of building elements. 

Key to achieving design and architectural quality was the inclusion of appropriate specialists into the team. 

The impression following our tour, was of a well managed design conscious team, where real architectural creativity was developed in an environment which breathed the same. It was an experience not to have missed -and a pity that some did.

Tom Ball