The AJ’s Sketchbook series is a showcase of architects’ sketches and concept drawings. Today’s sketches are by pH+ director Andy Puncher
For nearly 20 years I have enjoyed the ‘balance’ of living in rural Kent whilst spending week days working in a busy and vibrant east London studio. Ignoring the challenges of South Eastern Railways, this has worked pretty well, in reality allowing me to live two almost separate lives and, I guess, adopt two very different personas.
Lockdown changed this overnight forcing the merger of my two worlds around the contested territory of The Kitchen Table.
Things started cordially with physical and temporal boundaries established allowing mealtimes, home schooling, upholstery renovations and the running of a medium sized architectural practice to co-exist, almost, harmoniously. Sporadic zoom calls were accommodated in an attic bedroom with a small desk and an aesthetically acceptable backdrop and the blitz spirit seemed to be carrying us through.
As the week continued however tensions escalated, zoom marathons ensued and the architectural practice became partitioned to the attic bedroom. In an effort to recreate the buzz and collaboration of the studio I found myself attending, and perhaps instigating, practically continuous video calls not leaving the house for days in fear of missing a lead or opportunity to return to the mourned ‘normal’.
It soon became apparent (was strongly pointed out to me) that this was significantly affecting my mood and I realised, for my own mental health, I needed to try to establish some delineation and find some distance. I began forcing myself to do an early morning walk. As this walk was strictly programmed for an hour it presented itself as three main routes from my house which I have repeated cyclically daily since the middle of March.
As working hours inevitably extended I took my notebook and a pen with me for the early early morning phone calls and, at points of distraction, began capturing views from the impromptu call stops. The sketches attached therefore have become a log of these interruptions.
The walks have continued regardless of weather and I found I have begun noticing and recording (photographically) the daily micro changes in the landscape, the variety of tone under continually morphing light and, perhaps echoing my mood, the changing colours and textures of regrowth.
As explored in the final sketches, the work of our practice, pH+, seeks to integrate and is often derived from the landscape our architecture sits within and forms and I am keen to apply this incidental learning to enrich our projects.
Although I am very excited and relieved to be planning the return to our studio, and the rebirth of my alter ego, I hope to continue the walks, especially as I am now in the final stages of negotiations with my children for shared custody of the pencil crayons.
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