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Q & A - James Burland Burland TM

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When and where were you born?

London, 1954 .

What is your favourite building and why?

Casa del Fascio, Como, built in 1936 by Terragni, for its materials, details, proportion, transparency, siting and because it catches the eye at 500 yards. It is a rare building, veiled in tragic history, that delivers what the books say about it.

What is your favourite restaurant/meal?

Eleanor's (L'Etoile) in Charlotte Street, London, for fillet steak, salad and a bottle of claret.

What vehicles do you own?

Five bikes (two Corsa, one training bike and two folding Bromptons;

one in the office for emergencies) and a Saab that is hardly used.

What is your favourite film?

The Third Man.

What is your favourite book?

The Great Gatsby.

What is your favourite 'design classic'?

The Swiss army knife.

What is the worst building you've ever seen and why?

The Royal Free Hospital in London.

Unreassuringly like the 'Ministry of Love' in 1984, it's a great hospital that deserves better.

Who or what is your biggest architectural influence and why?

Italy. From factories to furniture, bus stops to basiliche, there are ideas all over the place.

Who is the most talented architect you've worked with?

Philip Cox. Fast and furious, he is the only architect I've met who uses all the pencils in a Caran d'Ache box of 100 colours - a box a week.

If you hadn't been an architect, what would you have been?

A musician.

What would your advice be to architectural students?

Be wild with your ideas, it may be your only chance.

What would your motto be?

'Never trust anyone who flatters your abilities. They probably want something for nothing.'

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