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Neville Conder inspired young architects like me

letters

I was fortunate to work for Neville Conder in the mid-1970s on the Derby Civic Halls project, and also on the Ismaili Centre (AJ 26.6.03).

At the time I was an architectural student and by far the most junior member of the Casson Conder team. Neville was an inspiration to me, as I believe he was to other young architects in his office.

He was a shy retiring man who worked quietly and modestly and yet put 110 per cent into all that he did. His complex working drawings are testament to his commitment. His drawings were the outpourings of his architectural ideas, and he had a rare ability to mix up plans, sections, working details, thumbnail sketches all over an A1 sheet, covering every square inch!

He was a hugely talented architect with strong ideas, but he was always keen to share these with his assistants and to listen to those of us who were keen to promote our own ideas.

One could always have a fruitful dialogue with Neville, no matter what position you held within his firm. He was also a skilled amateur 'builder' - building was his weekend hobby and he would often come into the office on a Monday morning with cuts and bruises on his hands and forearms - the results of an over-enthusiastic weekend 'on the tools'.

Neville never really achieved the position within the architectural profession he deserved.

This is partly due to his modesty and reticence, and partly due to the fact he seemed content to work as Hugh Casson's partner.

However, he has left behind some great buildings and landscape projects, and he will be remembered with respect and affection by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

I cannot look at the water flowing so evenly in Pulteney Weir in Bath without thinking of Neville. Fortunately, his son Simon, of whom Neville was immensely proud, has inherited the Conder talent, and so we can look forward to seeing projects of outstanding sensitivity and quality emerging from the Conder stable for years to come.

Tom Pike, The Pike Practice, London SW11

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