David Johnson first joined GLM back in 1997 and now heads up the architecture team. In the run up to the 20 year anniversary of David being at GLM he will share with us some of his favourite projects through the years and the odd photo along the way too!
Our project at Morridgehall for David and Emma Platt remains my favourite to date, at least some 10 years since its completion. And to think, it came to us as a project by a pretty abnormal route. David had paid for a design to extend his existing cottage and showed it to us during a chance meeting, simply out of interest. We were not impressed. As well as boringly replicating the existing cottage to form an “H” block, the extension was built into a steeply sloping site to the rear – not the most obvious location. We offered to spend a little time, free of charge, to see if we could do better. David & Emma seemed to think so and we were duly appointed.
Our solution was to add what we like to term a “contemporary vernacular” extension, perpendicular to the existing cottage with the old and new forms joined by a glazed link which provided the main horizontal and vertical point of circulation, including the main entrance.
I recall the planning officer’s comment during the application – “It’s quite contemporary isn’t it!” – said with a certain note of disdain. “And your point is?” was my reply. Despite the council’s reluctance to support the scheme, we did obtain planning consent.
The detailed design stage was interesting as we were proposing to use Beco Wallform, which although we had used once before for a project in Jedburgh, was still quite a new product in the construction industry and especially in the Scottish Borders. The system is designed to fit together like LEGO bricks and is primarily aimed at the self build market due to its ease and speed of construction. Something David Platt experienced first hand. “David, just to let you know the Beco has been delivered this morning” was a call I received from the client one morning early in the project. That afternoon I received another very excited call from the client, “David, you won’t believe it but the ground floor walls are finished!” Whilst this was a huge positive, the client had to quickly advance the order of concrete for the inner core of the insulated formwork before it blew away.
I have to admit a slight error on the steel and timber feature staircase in that when first constructed, it did have a “little” spring in it! A well designed support for the half landing provided the necessary stiffness and you would be hard placed to recognise it as an after thought.
So why is this project my favourite? Not only because we saved the client from some embarrassing blushes, nor because it was a perfect harmonious blend of new and old, contemporary and traditional. It’s not because the building just “floods with light” (client’s words, not mine) but because it is the one I would most love to live in and claim for my own family.
David Johnson, Director
Head of Architecture