NEVER BE AFRAID TO FAIL…
Ulster Tatler Interiors speak to one of Northern Ireland’s and the UK’s most exciting architects, Patrick Bradley.
In the early days what inspired you to become an Architect?
When I was a child I was completely obsessed with Lego and Meccano, building everything from fire stations to houses. With new pieces available every year, birthday presents were never a problem for my parents! Although she didn’t realise it at the time, my mother’s enthusiasm for old buildings and houses generally also had a profound effect. From the age of about 7, we used to stop whenever we passed an old building and, if possible, go in and have a look around it. She would point out any interesting features and despite no formal education in the subject, it must have rubbed off on me.
Where do you draw your creativity from at the start of each individual project?
I am a believer in drawing inspiration from the site and the clients themselves. It is always the starting point to analyse the sites pros and cons, its strengths and weaknesses and working very closely with the client’s brief aspirations. I usually then put the project and site to the back of my mind for a few weeks and by the time I come to put pen to paper, the creative juices start to flow as I have been unconsciously thinking about the project over and over in my head.
Since your appearance on Grand Designs that has firmly placed you as one of the edgiest architects in the UK & Ireland with your ‘Shipping Container Home project’, do clients often ask for parts of their design to emulate certain aspects of that project?
I have been offered commissions on a worldwide scale since I appeared on Grand Designs. The largest portion of my commissions are in the private residential sector; mainly one off bespoke houses but I also do quite a lot of restoration work to old and listed buildings which is quite close to my heart. Although clients wish to employ many ideas from my house (Grillagh Water), I always explain that no design or project is the same. Each project evolves from the site and client’s aspirations, so they soon understand that every individual project is unique and personal to them as clients.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in your life?
My inspiration has been fuelled from many things and individuals throughout my life. This ranges from sports personalities to famous Architects, from family to friends and from nature to buildings. We all take inspiration from different things, but I believe it is just as important to set goals and challenges, never be afraid to fail as failing is the only lesson on your way to achieving your goal. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life” – Muhamad Ali.
For any young person seeking out a career in Architecture – What’s the best advice you can give them?
I think every Architect will agree that it mostly is an enjoyable, creative career developing a concept to realisation. Architecture can be very subjective so always understand your designs may not be to the taste of everyone. However, for me to see a client excited and truly satisfied with the overall design is greatly rewarding, especially observing their enthusiasm and emotions as the building rises from the ground through to completion. It is a very fulfilling career, you never stop learning, exploring new ideas, pushing the limits and although it is hard work, I never consider being an Architect a job, I consider it a hobby.
Have you seen a shift in the way homes are designed over the last decade?
Design can mean different things to different people. When I think about good design, I think about the functionality, the distinction and the style. It is not about re-inventing the wheel but more about having integrity when fulfilling brief combining form. A design must be clear and easily understood by the user or the audience or both. Simple, good design enhances and improves the quality of life of the end user. I find the clients I attract have budgets ranging anywhere from £100,000 to £3,000,000 and the architectural styles vary greatly too from the very traditional to the very contemporary. Over the last decade, I have noticed a lot of people starting to understand the importance for good design, and how it can enhance their lives and emotions for the better.
With modern materials becoming more robust / flexible giving the ability to push the design boundaries. Has this made the process of designing a modern property more complex one?
Not necessarily. Form always follows function. I always maintain to achieve the floor plans and flow of the spaces to suit the client’s lifestyle first. I prefer to understand how they live and how they function to inform my design. After that elevating is easy for me as I usually have some forward thinking after the initial site visit in relation to the elevational treatment and the materials. I am always interested in new materials on the market and enjoy when we have a client with a vision and who is willing to let me have the freedom to push the boundaries in the designs.
Is there such a thing as a typical day’s work for you?
No there isn’t, but I think that’s what makes my job so enjoyable. There is hardly ever a time where I felt I have worked the same day twice. I can be in the studio designing, out on site, meeting existing or new clients and everyday offers a new challenge to me. It can be hectic at times and I do work a lot of hours as I have commissions throughout Ireland and the UK, I also have a studio in London and I am very grateful that I get to work on some very interesting challenging commissions.
What are the main trends going to be for 2017 into 2018?
It’s always difficult to gauge what the trends are going to be year in and year out, as everyone has their own style and ideas. I believe the ever-increasing demand for TV shows and publications on Architecture are definitely opening people’s imaginations into what they can achieve. As a result, I believe people are more open minded and courageous to go that little bit extra to achieve outstanding design.
Patrick Bradley Architects
30 Gortinure Road, Maghera.
Tel: 028 7940 1814