Tom Holbrook, 5th Studio
AJ Corus 40 Under 40
Tom Holbrook claims to have fallen into an architectural career ‘by a mixture of coincidence and moments where I have been lucky enough to be inspired by others’.
He started his working life in the local theatre, acting as a flyman by night and a scenic carpenter by day, and went on to freelance as a prop-maker for various film productions. His decision to join the interior design course at Kingston Polytechnic was prompted by the realisation that all key decisions were taken by the art department, invariably peopled by graduates of the London art schools. He then joined the diploma course at Cambridge University. Two years after graduating, Holbrook was invited back to the school as head of the first year, and he has taught there ever since. For the past four years he has run a diploma unit, working on the relationship between architecture and the scale of infrastructure and landscape. He established 5th Studio with Oliver Smith in 1997.
He says: ‘I have been fortunate not to have had to work for anyone else in a serious way, but rather to have the relative freedom created by teaching and then forming a practice of my own.’