I work in a studio extension to our home, designed by me and built a few years ago. Our property lies within the Queen Elizabeth Forest close to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs at the start of the Scottish Highlands; distinctly rural, yet with access to Glasgow Airport. The studio is a play of wood, light, and glass and surrounded by Scots pine, larch and Japanese maple. It is a special place and I consider myself privileged to be able to live and work from here. I miss neither my previous commute nor my past experience leading a large corporate office.
Like most other architects, my practice workload has slowed, and my teaching commitments diminished due to Covid 19. Visiting professorships in China and the US are on hold, and new projects suspended pending client confirmation. There has, however, been an upswing in requests for expert advice on the potential for reconfiguring existing buildings. That said, I fear the worst is yet to come in wider economic terms and that there will be a major retrenchment for architectural practices.
Since lockdown, I have refocused my daily activity and returned to drawing and sketching what I see around me. Hand drawing is a fundamental part of my practice and teaching. My design, planning applications and working details are all initially hand drawn, with technicians subsequently translating them to computer. Client presentations are often also hand drawn, which I regard as commitment to my craft.
I have completed four “lockdown” sketchbooks chronicling the daily experiences of my family and our locale last year during March, April, and May, until restrictions were relaxed. The sketchbooks show family life in all its glory, from Covid hairdressing to gardening, and allowed me to challenge my own previous drafting style. I found the shift from architectural drawing testing, but the drawings were joint winner of the RIBA Journal Eyeline Competition in July and have been requested by the Mitchell Library in Glasgow as a visual record of this extraordinary period.