Up, up and away
location is fantastic - you can go on the Tube, we've got a ban on taxis, we've got restaurants and bars and art shops all around us.'
Nor is he quite on his own, since three of his old team at Foster's have joined up - James Thomas, Jason Parker and Sean Affleck. The office also has a manager, Alan Sturrock, who joined from Walters and Cohen. Future recruits will be taken on once work begins to flow, which seems likely since there are already 22 potential jobs on a spreadsheet, a few of which are definite - a house in Ireland, a studio in Wiltshire, and a pool cover structure in St Tropez. There is the possibility of a significant masterplan project in London, and the firm is already pitching for a couple of office schemes. Shuttleworth likes office architecture, has been a judge for three years on the British Council for Offices Awards, has designed plenty and is itching to do more.
Whatever buildings emerge will be the product of an office which is 'more a workshop', where there is 'an intense relationship between computers, drawing boards, sketches and models'. Shuttleworth expects the office to have a 'craft shop' for making models as tools, though pristine presentation models will be commissioned (nice for Don). He wouldn't want to take on engineers, but would consider graphic designers and interiors specialists over time.
'The point is to make great buildings, not start by saying you are going to make a great studio. To do that you need a culture of listening, you need to respond to clients, but whatever we do will be design-led, now and forever.' Other guiding principles for the firm are a clear succession strategy, not in the conventional sense of hierarchical succession of partners on an age basis, but on the basis of shared equity, with all company shares held in trust in perpetuity for the benefit of the employees.
How this will work in practice is not entirely clear, but the practical effect of the egalitarian aspiration includes design credits for individual members of the firm as appropriate; brownie points for media references (presumably positive ones); and a system of reward for individuals based on their contribution to the firm. In this collective organisation individuals should be able to shine. The Magnum photographic agency might provide a parallel.
So what can we expect from 'make'? 'I think the buildings will be richer, with more expression, than what I was doing at Foster's, ' suggests Shuttleworth. 'There will probably be more curves and shapes, but it depends on the project.' A contemporary building he admires is the Herzog & de Meuron California winery because it approaches architecture in a very new and distinctive way.
As to the CABE design review role, he has already had experience of how the meetings operate, attending as a commissioner. He admits he is tempted on occasion 'to show the designers how to do it', since the schemes reviewed range from the excellent, where one could suggest a tweak, to 'some where you think the only thing to suggest is to start again'. He sees a case for CABE to look at more low-profile building types and areas.
('What do you do about the Hagley Road?'
he asks - he hails from Birmingham).
This all seems a long way from his student days at Leicester Poly, where influential teachers included Ben Farmer, George Henderson and John Lee; and from his early Foster years (he worked there on his year out, the main kitchen at Willis Faber being his earliest contribution to the firm). Shuttleworth has moved from flying high, in Foster formation, to flying free.