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Obituary: Paul Hinkin (1965 - 2014)


Eco-architect and founder of Black Architecture Paul Hinkin has died, aged 49

Hinkin, the founder of Black Architecture, died at his home on Saturday (13 August).

He formed his practice Black Architecture, which focused on sustainable building, in 2004. The ten-year-old practice recently completed a new community hub in Lewisham.

A passionate campaigner on green issues, Hinkin had been campaigning for the listing of the 2000 Stirling Prize-shortlisted Sainsbury’s supermarket in Greenwich, which he designed whilst working for Chetwoods Architects.

He joined Chetwoods Architects in 1994, and was promoted to a director in 1999, on completion of the Sainsbury’s project, which many heralded as leading the way in sustainable supermarket design.

He trained at the University of Wales, qualifying in 1989. Alongside his architecture training, Hinkin also received a masters in bioclimatic design from the University of Portsmouth.

Hinkin taught at the University of Bath, and had previously been a visiting critic at Cardiff School of Architecture.

AJ sustainability editor, Hattie Hartman, commented: ‘Paul was passionate and uncompromising  on the subject of sustainable design. As a thought leader in this field, I often turned to Paul to confirm or clarify the more erudite points of sustainability. He always responded articulately, willingly and with a smile. He was also – dare I say – tenacious, most recently demonstrated in his determined campaign to save the Greenwich Sainsbury’s. Paul will be deeply missed.’

Further tributes

Doug King, consultant in Building Performance Innovation

‘Paul Hinkin was my earliest collaborator in sustainable architecture and we grew our shared passion over nearly twenty years, numerous projects, sketches, dinners and daft ideas. Working with Paul was was a constant challenge for an engineer as he never let up with the question ‘Why?’ and often knew the range of possible answers at least as well as I did. This led us to a fine creative tension and memorable projects including Sainsbury’s Greenwich, the Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell and Romero House for CAFOD in Lambeth. 

‘Paul always had boundless energy for doing the right thing. During the recent lull in commercial work for his practice in the UK, Paul took on a charitable project to develop a sustainable school for Uganda and had recently begun to make a significant impact on third year studio at Bath University.

‘Paul had already made a significant contribution to sustainable architecture, teaching and debate and I have no doubt that there was far more which will now go unrealised, to the detriment of us all.’  

John Alker, UK Green Building Council

‘I first met Paul through our Leaders’ Network, where I was struck by his brilliantly forthright opinions. He was constantly “telling it like it is” to his fellow leaders! This was typified by his contribution to the latest collection of Leaders’ essays published in March. 

‘Paul was well known as an engaging and passionate advocate. He spoke at our Re-Imaging Design course in January, contributed to our blog and Pinpoint and was also actively involved in the World Green Building Council’s forthcoming report on health, wellbeing and productivity in offices. Just a couple of weeks ago he happily spent the best part of an hour on the phone to me, patiently and enthusiastically answering my questions about ventilation and cooling in relation to healthy design.

‘I will probably best remember Paul for the day he took me and a couple of colleagues around the new CAFOD office in London, which he was rightly very proud of. His philosophy of putting the user at the centre of the design process was clear for all to see, and we have used this several times as a great case study, including in this publication for World Green Building Week last year.

‘I didn’t know Paul particularly well - I wish I had known him better - but I enjoyed our exchanges immensely, and am left with a feeling that I was ‘mid conversation’ with him. I’ll end with a typically brilliant quote from Paul in a piece that he was drafting for inclusion in the upcoming healthy buildings report:

‘“The road towards a New Sustainable Architecture has turned out to be a long and bumpy one and I believe that, while we have increased the amount of rhetoric, we have yet to achieve the paradigm shift that is required to address the growing environmental concerns of our age.”

‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all at Black Architecture at this time.’

Laurie Chetwood, Chetwood Architects

‘Paul was a very good architect. He combined an excellent technical mind with one of great imagination and lateral thought. He was a true innovator applying new ideas with rigour.

‘He specialised in environmental architectural design and led the team on the Sainsbury store at Greenwich, completed in 2000, managing to produce a building which met all the necessary commercial demands whilst at the same time creating a ground breaking design which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize later that year.

‘He has since successfully defended the building from redevelopment - a building which stands testament to a very talented architect who is a big loss to the profession.’



Readers' comments (5)

  • Paul was a brave, tenacious, principled and passionate man. He was committed to a humanistic architecture, an architecture for the future. I was working with Paul only last Wednesday, making photographs of a modest house extension on Eel Pie Island, joyfully catching shadows and momentary shafts of light imagining tributes to Carlo Scarpa in the sunshine, whilst planning trips to David Lea's WISE building at Machynileth, and discussing bold plans and thoughts for Paul's own imagined new house. On our many photographic trips conversation was always inspiring, challenging, thought provoking; also full of laughter, optimism and Paul's boundless enthusiasm. It seems impossible that those conversations are now over and such an energetic and positive force for architecture should be stilled. The world needed Paul's voice to lift the profile of a green and sustainable agenda and it will be all the poorer without it. More personally we needed Paul, his integrity, his conviction, his knowledge and his ever generous company, he will be deeply, truly, missed. Tim Soar

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  • "Meaningless style disinterests me: let’s discuss buildings with a rich social programme!" These were Paul's words to our 3rd year students at the start of last year. He will be greatly missed here at the University of Bath. Daniel Wong

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  • Paul was a genuinely good person who cared a great deal about doing things well and ethically. He was always a joy to meet - his energy and enthusiasm was infectious. We're all shocked and saddened by this sad news.

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  • Very sad indeed to hear this news. Colleagues and I benefitted from his enormous contribution to several successful projects over almost ten years. Paul was inspirational and I was looking for the next opportunity to work with him. We'll miss him. Simon Neate, Indigo Planning.

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  • Saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Paul. Apart from his great talent and passion as an architect and teacher he was a genuinely great guy with incisive humour and sense of humility. Another light has gone out… Simon Fitzgibbon

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