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Grand project

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Architecture on television can be a risky business: too often the professional involved can appear snooty or thoughtless about the client's problems. So it was with a sense of relief that the last in Channel 4's Grand Designs series should have worked so well. The architect in question was Brighton boulevardier Alan Phillips, the project an interiors makeover at a Regency house off the front, the client a couple who had 'met Phillips in the pub' and ended up employing him. The project turned out to be both nightmare and triumph: the client's 'Morris Minor' budget - for a TVR job - had to be completely rethought as various structural problems were found, and opportunities taken (for example incorporating the original vaulted roof, covered over for a century into the design).

The programme charted the trials and tribulations for all concerned - including the builder walking off the job, and Phillips taking over as main contractor himself, all for the original fixed fee agreement.

In the end, the client was delighted with the Modern house they had always wanted. As for Phillips, while expressing himself satisfied and happy with the client's reaction, he declined to use the word proud. Actually a genuine touch of humility.

Astragal will buy him a drink at that pub on our next visit to Brighton.

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