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a life in architecture Robin Ellis

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Robin Ellis, sponsor of the AJ/Robin Ellis Design Build Small Projects Awards, admits he is lucky in living in Primrose Hill, so close to a place which gives him immense pleasure: Regent's Park.

'I can look out over Primrose Hill and see the top of the Aviary in the Zoo. I think the parks in London are quite wonderful, especially Regent's Park.

'What Nash did there was fantastic and, by extension, the route down to the Thames, past Portland Place and through Trafalgar Square. He certainly put a stamp on the city of that time.'

Nash provides an unexpected link with Ellis'childhood. He grew up in Bristol and used to play around Blaise Castle, where Nash built a small hamlet of cottages ornees. 'There were these funny little cottages, but I had no idea then that they were by Nash. I find them charming.'

He puts Portmeirion in North Wales, designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, in the same playful tradition. 'I used to visit it when I was studying architecture at Liverpool. It has a charm and an elegance and a brilliance.'

He adds: 'Williams-Ellis is not rigorous, he's not fashionable and he certainly wasn't fashionable when he was building Portmeirion in the late 1920s.

'It wasn't the new Modernism. It's a sort of inspired pastiche, as is Blaise Hamlet. I like slightly eccentric stuff like that. Modern architects tend to take themselves too seriously.'

'Small Projects' is at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1, until 28 April.

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