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CGI pioneer Alan Hayes Davidson dies, aged 58

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Architectural visualisation pioneer and architect Alan Hayes Davidson has died, aged 58

The founder of Hayes Davidson, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2012, passed away on Tuesday, surrounded by family and friends.

Davidson trained as an architect in Edinburgh before moving to London in 1986 where he worked with the Richard Rogers Partnership before founding the CGI studio Hayes Davidson in 1989.

An accomplished perspectivist, Davidson has been credited with using early 3D modelling software to pioneer computer-generated architectural visualisation in the UK.

Davidson’s client base included many of the UK’s best-known architects, including Zaha Hadid, Chris Wilkinson, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, David Marks, Julia Barfield and Future Systems.

In 1994 he pioneered verified imaging for planning, and in 1996 he designed and grew Hayes Davidson’s London studio, from which it has developed an international client base of world-class designers and architects.

Paying tribute to Davidson, William Matthews, of William Matthews Associates, recalled his studio’s visualisation work for the Shard.

‘Without Alan I sometimes wonder whether we would have built the Shard. The images his team produced were instrumental in winning the public inquiry: they were perfect. At the time Hayes Davidson were in a league of their own and Alan was the pioneer for an emerging profession.

‘Delivered in a charming soft Scottish brogue, his determination to produce only the very best images was striking. The attention to detail, driven by Alan, was extraordinary.’

Following his 2012 diagnosis of motor neurone disease, Davidson continued to work as a director and trustee of Hayes Davidson as well as leading the Alan Davidson Foundation, which supports MND care and research, and art and architectural scholarships.

1, hayes davidson, tate modern by herzog & de meuron, london, circa 1995

1, hayes davidson, tate modern by herzog & de meuron, london, circa 1995

Tributes:

Ivan Harbour, senior partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Alan was so much part of our team in Hammersmith in his early pioneering days, working out of his hardware-stuffed living room in Chiswick. He was exceptional with his pencil but rather than railing against an emerging technology he embraced it and used his considerable skills and artistic eye to establish himself at the forefront of a discipline that we now take for granted. Visiting his practice in Paddington felt like home; a talented extended family that worked and played hard together; what parties! Alan could not only do, but also mentor, lead and entertain; always upbeat he was a true Renaissance man.

Troy Hodgson, art director, Darcstudio Alan was a pioneer in our industry, one of the first – and certainly one of the best. Not only talented, but he was also super kind and genuine. I was a stranger to him, but on more that a couple of occasions in the early days of Darcstudio he picked up the phone to me to offer his support and experience; a subtle but powerful gesture which has had a lasting impact on myself and our studio. His visceral understanding of imagery has no doubt had a profound effect on our built environment, and his visionary approach to representation rendered out the early skyline of our industry. He’ll be very sadly missed. 

Alex York, partner, Recent Spaces In the arch-viz world, the name Alan Davidson is very familiar, and for good reason. Alan’s pioneering vision for and dedication to this ever-evolving art form has affected and inspired us all in some way over the years, and most visualisers in the UK have been part of the Hayes Davidson family at some point in their lives, either as a colleague, collaborator or friend of the studio. Both Recent Spaces co-founders Iain and Alex had the privilege of starting their careers at Hayes Davidson, where they found their passion for the industry under his guidance. He will be sorely missed by us all.

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I’m so very sorry to hear of Alan’s death. I knew him first as a first year student at Edinburgh University where I was teaching at the time. He was a very gentle giant of a guy with lovely drawing skills and an adventurous spirit which took him off to Fiji for his year out I recall. We kept in touch when he moved to London (his Chiswick flat was my occasional hotel) and his formation and nurturing of Hayes Davidson was truly remarkable. He had an amazing business sense as well as great architectural talent. He kept up a connection with Edinburgh buying a townhouse here and after his diagnosis we talked about his idea of him coming back to live here which I think I talked him out of, knowing how most of his friends and all of the buzz of the work (which he loved) was in London. On his last trip here we managed to get him up to the main living space of my new house and he was, as always, very generous in his praise. Such a lovely man.

    Richard Murphy.
    Edinburgh

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  • ALAN DAVIDSON

    I am really sad to hear of Alan Davidson’s death. He was a kind and brilliantly talented man who could draw beautifully and produce amazing renders.
    I met him in the early days of starting my practice which was then called Chris Wilkinson Architects and his contribution was amazing. As a small up and coming practice, he helped us compete with the established wel- known offices and grab our share of the limelight. In fact, his renders of our Jubilee Line projects at Stratford and bridges were found on the front covers of many magazines around the world.
    I will miss him.
    Chris Wilkinson

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