OUR IDEAL COLLABORATORS – Oct 15

It’s always good to be published and one of our projects, the home at Newham, has been featured in a new book: “An Ideal Collaboration”. The book highlights the vital contribution of others, particularly craftsmen. Without collaboration architects are good for nothing.
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Irritatingly, none of the interiors of Newham have been illustrated, a pity because it contains excellent examples of both collaboration and craftsmanship.
Look at the entrance screen columns, cut as intriguing displays of fossilised marine sedimentation from the quarry in Portland. There they didn’t have a lath large enough to turn the columns so the blocks were sent to the De Lark granite quarry in Cornwall which does; two very different masonry traditions collaborating on a unique creation.
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It is perhaps a common misconception that craftsmanship is dead or dying – it is not! And there many, many companies and craftsman who continue to excel and delight. The following are some of my favourites:

Chichester Stoneworks (successors to CWO Ltd): masonry constructors, banker masons and carvers. I have worked with them for 25+ years.
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For many years Richard Feroze produced outstanding scagliola and is now researching the history of the material (the resulting book is eagerly awaited!). Opportunities to use scagliola are not frequent but, when they did occur, Richard’s Scagliola always exceeded my most optimistic hopes.
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Falcon Forge are my first choice for anything in metal; not only do they have great craft skills, they have the engineering know-how to make it all work. For example, in Norwich Cathedral they made the great chandeliers in brass, installed the electrics, and devised and made the fall and rise mechanism.
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And finally a good builder is needed to bring everything together. They have the most difficult job of all juggling late deliveries, poor weather and design charges.
It’s no good having a paper-shuffling contractor. You have to have a builder who understands construction and what is and what is not good quality. Such a builder is MH Costa Construction Ltd our ideal collaborators on many projects.
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Quality and craftsmanship really does matter. Of course, it gives something worthwhile to succeeding generations, but it also gives something now to those who produce it: a joy of producing excellence. Satisfaction cannot be gained from producing something that is worthless! And the same is true for design.