Friday, 1 April 2011

Thousand-grand designs


If I had a new client for every time someone has said to me, “Oh, you’re an *rchitect, you must have seen [some house or other] on Grand Designs?” then I’d have an awful lot of clients.

I usually have to confess that, no, I didn’t see the aforementioned house on Grand Designs; that, no, I”m not a regular watcher of the programme; and that, no, most of the designs I’ve seen on Grand Designs leave me rather cold—most of them exhibiting the real problem with British architects, which is their facility for designing expensive and time-consuming ways to build the same old British box.

Which is what virtually all the grand designs I’ve seen amount to. Some good people paying a lot of money to clad an expensive but otherwise very basic box. People paying a thousand-grand or more so they can to live in the same box as their neighbour but with slightly more esoteric cladding.

Anyway, along those lines then here’s Grand Designs’ presenter Kevin McCloud’s top ten “greatest architectural homes” in Britain—featuring boxes clad in rubber, glass, shingles, charred cedar and hand-tooled oak.

At least there’s one genuine masterpiece there at number five.


  1. The main thing that strikes me about grand designs is that just about every home owner is not allowed to build anything close to what they really want because of ridiculous planning laws that insist your house looks like the one next door.

  2. Good point Craig, & the same happens in NZ.

  3. Robert Winefield2 Apr 2011, 12:10:00

    Good god! How in the hell did these bastards ever win one World Cup and Two World wars if that is the pinnacle of their imagination?

    A rubber clad dunny FFS!??!?

  4. @Craig:

    Well said. I would like to add that I find it disturbing how those people go along with those burocrats planning permission often without a fight.

    Add to that the persisting mantra of "Saving the world" "Sustainable" and "Low carbon" and you find me puking in a corner.

    Having said that, I love the program because of the passion of the owners at the start of their project. Architecturally sound or not. It is their house and they think it is the best. After all, who would know better than the owners who have to live in it?

  5. The problem I have on the houses in Grand designs
    Is sometimes they have poor people building a house they can’t afford.
    They then spend even more money that they don’t have. To make the house green. Then complain about the cost of everything and the bank manger is an arse. When they shouldn’t be building in the first place.
    Now in tropical countries you can have a lot of glass. How often does England have a summer. So why clad in the building in windows.
    In a country that perpetually rains. Why no verandahs?
    In saying that. When you get a person who has some real money
    and builds his dream. The show is enjoyable.

  6. I like number 10 ... but most of the rest, those are some of the fugliest houses I've ever seen.

    What more can we expect, I suppose, from a people who call that horrendously ugly Tate Modern - a veritable shrine to ugliness - an "art gallery".

  7. What astounds me about the program when watching a lot of the UK based house reno/ builds, is the malleability of the plans, compared to the plans we need to submit, and then resubmit if we find something doesn't quite work during the build in order to get the grey ones stamp of approval.
    Our house plans were 30 pages and the 2 commercial projects i'm doing now run into the 100s....

  8. Good grief! Some of those make Council estates look attractive.

  9. A thing that amazes me about thast show is the sums thrown around by people who seem ill able to afford them.

    I'm curious as to how many will still own their homes ten years afterwards given the exceptional mortages they seem to take.


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