Thomas Heatherwick

I have just been to a talk by Thomas Heatherwick RA.   I have been aware of his work for a long time, ever since we were driving down from Scotland In 1994 and stopped at Belsay, a ruined Greek Revival house outside Newcastle.   English Heritage had commissioned a number of young designers to build so-called ‘sitooteries’, a Scottish term for a small garden pavilion.   Thomas had designed the first and the only one I remember:  a febrile hedgehog of a building which was the precursor of his Expo Pavilion in Shanghai.   But I had never heard him talk before.   I have seldom heard someone talk so inspiringly about the processes of design and making.   He started as a student constructing a small-scale building, because he believed that buildings should be as much about the process of construction as the intellectual analysis of space.   It’s obvious that he’s right, but it’s seldom said.   And he went on to describe his thought process in a whole series of projects up until the Garden Bridge across the Thames.

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