A number of people have told us that there are only two kinds of architect; those who will design something exciting – but it will be their vision and their house design, not yours; and those who will design the house you want, but it won’t be very exciting. We didn’t want either outcome – we started with a good idea of the type of house we wanted, but with a recognition that we needed an architect who could help us make it special. So we were initially nervous about whether Thinking Buildings would try to impose their ideas on our special plot. As it turned out, this apprehension dissipated pretty quickly in the face of Thinking Buildings’ skill at listening, absorbing and understanding what we thought important. Introduced by the German housebuilder Meisterstueck, the brief was to marry up our ideas, their architectural creativity, the planning guidance we had already received, and the constraints of a pre-formed building system. In practice, we found encouragement, innovation and where necessary some diplomatic firm guidance towards sensible outcomes, all balanced pretty well with the occasional nod to client stubbornness. A fixed fee process, independent of build cost, created trust in the (therefore not for profit) ideas and advice provided, yet we always felt that Thinking Buildings were committed to creating the best outcome, when a practice with less integrity might well have given way on few points to save time. There was good understanding of the planning process as well, though with our site so far away from their base, some extra local knowledge was essential.
We’re really happy with where we ended up, and excited to see the plans turn into the house we hoped for. Let’s hope the planners agree to let us build it!Julian Dickens,