Architecture comes in many forms and with many different price tags attached. The quality of materials, craft and artfulness varies greatly. At MJP we have been fortunate to work on many projects where ideas have been the basic currency. Many have remained in the world of ideas but quite a few have entered the material world. We have been lucky to have clients who have allowed us the freedom to explore thoughtfully various ideas and material solutions.
As a student it quickly became clear that architecture as an academic subject could encompass economics, politics, history, psychology, anthropology and art. There were times when unsolicited advice was less than helpful, but the thrill of trading ideas and concepts had taken hold, and now, in practice, it is pleasing to say that through periods of great expansion we have not lost that quality of open debate with contributions expected and forthcoming from all members of the practice. These ideas can be very simple, like making a big blue room at the Wellcome Wing of the Science Museum, or difficult, as with the geometrical complexities of Burrells Field at Trinity College.
But the real reward of practice is to see imagined spaces and forms enter the world - where the tactile pleasure of natural materials and carefully juxtaposed artificial materials can be enjoyed. To work in an office where art and craftsmanship is applied across a wide breadth of projects is very stimulating, from fine carpentry and specially finished white concrete in Fitzwilliam College Chapel, to bespoke but mass-produced components and techniques, such as the matt, white, translucent etched glass proposed for the BBC development in Langham Place.
This dialogue between different scales and types of project is ongoing and the cross-fertilisation of such ideas, and the skilful use of materials and construction techniques in creating exciting and useful spaces, are essential factors in our continuing success as a practice.