House of Experts…

We were lucky enough to get an invitation to The House of Experts, or as its more widely known, The House of Lords. This was a closing reception for a security event we had been attending. We were also lucky enough to get a brief history lesson from Baroness Harris of Richmond DL. The current building dates from 1840 after the previous House was destroyed by fire in 1834. Designed by Sir Charles Berry, we have included two pictures…one is heavily obscured by Mike, the other is a snapshot of the Victoria Tower.

The public is welcome to visit and it is free to go and sit in the gallery to watch the House at work.

Forget Wizards, St Pancras is already magic and rescued by a knight!

Our MD, Mike Gillespie snapped some pics of the wonderful London St Pancras station earlier this month and we thought we would share them with you.

Immortalised (though it is named as Kings Cross) by the Harry Potter franchise of films, this Gothic, Victorian gem was rescued from demolition by a campaign in the 1960s,  a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman (clearly, he liked it more than Slough). This campaign halted the demolition application by the British Railways Board (well, a combination of Kings Cross and St Pancras was proposed, which would in effect have meant demotion for both). In 1967, St Pancras was given Grade 1 listing. 

A statue of the station’s champion and fan, Betjeman, now stands on the platform; arm aloft to hold on to his hat, Martin Jennings’ sculpture has ensured the link between the poet and this incredible station, will never be lost.


Mike Gillespie, “What have the Victorians ever done for us?! Imagine what it might have been replaced with had it been demolished. Seriously though, as with all architecture, its subjective and emotive of course. Look at the debate over brutalist architecture in recent years. The saving of this amazing structure and its subsequent listing makes me think…maybe sometimes we are too quick to dismiss the old in our rush to modernisation…and in so doing perhaps we are guilty of robbing our towns and cities of some of their souls and of denying future generations the benefit of these fantastic edifices. Its a beautiful fusion of old and new. “

Burntwood School “clear winner” of RIBA Stirling Prize

A girl’s comprehensive school in Wandsworth has won a leading UK architecture award. 

Burntwood school was described as a ‘clear winner’ by judges for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Image result for burtwood school award

Image from

Image result for burtwood school award

image from and shows the covered walkway.

The rebuild,  between 2011 and 2014, cost £40.9m, and the architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.

You can see more details and photos on the AHMM website 

image from

The Aviator in Farnborough…wow

During a visit the Security and Policing event this year (for we are Security Consultants), we stopped in for dinner and drinks at The Aviator Hotel in Farnborough and what an architectural and design treat that building is.

The architect was Hamiltons and the interior styling was by Gillespie UK and the main contractor was ISG  Interior Exterior plc.

photo from – Hotel booking service

In fitting with the historic feel of the area and its airfield and shaped like a huge propeller, it is a sleek and frankly breathtaking building. The exterior changes appearance depending on the time of day and light due to it’s cladding. Whether approaching from the main road or looking up from the airfield this is an arresting sight.

Inside is equally impressive, with a stunning white stairway leading the eye up to the continued circular landings.

photo credit: Hamilton Architects

Thorpeness and Lavenham: A lofty house and a town that time forgot..sort of..

A recent venture East led me to the charming little seaside town of Thorpeness. The main Hotel and Golf club has some great views of the lake and also offer access to two of the towns remarkable and interesting features. These being The House in the Clouds and the windmill.

The House in the clouds was built in 1923 by Braithwaite Engineering Company of London as far as I can ascertain and was conceived as a water tower, fed by the windmill which is situated just a few yards away. In order to stay in keeping with the surrounding houses, the tower was designed by Glencairne Stuart Ogilvie with F. Forbes Glennie (architect) & H. G Keep (works manager) to look like a house. When you first spot it, it appears to float above the treeline and you simply have to get closer for a better look!

It was damaged by anti aircraft fire from the guns at Thorpeness in World War 2, but was repaired using its own steel. This did reduce its water capacity but eventually was made redundant as a water tower with the arrival of water mains in 1977. At this point the tank was removed and it was converted in this house. 


House in the Clouds. Image copyright Ellie Hurst 2014


The House in the Clouds -Thorpness. image copyright Ellie Hurst 2014


Thorpeness Windmill. Image copyright Ellie Hurst 2014

The Medieval town of Lavenham is about an hour and half inland of Thorpeness (and very nearly on our way home). Having seen so many films that have used Lavenham as a set (such as Harry Potter), I was really looking forward to seeing it. In many ways it is a town that the Industrial Revolution and war just hasn’t affected and has over 320 buildings of historical significance. Having made a huge impact in the world of wool around 500 years ago, it was one of the wealthiest places in the country. It fell into a slightly unloved state for a while but is now back in some style and well worth a visit.


The Crooked House at Lavenham. Image copyright Ellie Hurst 2014


The Guildhall Building at Lavenham. Image copyright Ellie Hurst 2014

The New Birmingham Central Library

I recently visited this incredible new building…fast proving to be the Marmite of architecture to the local people and visitors (some love it others appear to loathe it).

I was not the millionth visitor sadly,(that number was reached just before Christmas I believe) though given the crowds of interested visitors, I thought I might have been. I loved the fact that there was some serious studious, functional activity going on, surrounded by people wandering round open mouthed at the building and its space!

It is certainly imposing and after having spent a good couple of hours mooching about, I am happy to say I am most definitely a fan. My companion was not so impressed and felt that the use of space was not good. Though he did concede that the design meant it was very flexible and that this meant it would probably evolve and change many times to suit the needs of its users. If I had a criticism it would be the positioning of the rather imposing helpdesks, right by escalators – the volume of visitors made exiting the escalators a slightly hazardous procedure owing to large numbers of tourists crowding round them, needing help. Also the signage was a little too subtle. Small issues and not really architectural ones…

The roof gardens are breath taking as is the view. I was lucky to go on a gorgeous blue-skied day and it was giddying to see the city below me and underlined how much change Birmingham has gone through architecturally since the 60’s. I loved the intricate metal lattice cladding alongside the beautiful gardens and the stunning cityscape backdrop. The way the gardens are layered into the building makes you feel very much a part of the whole space, it was wonderful.

The pictures are not mine (mine are more informal and far less impressive) but come courtesy of The Telegraph ITV and BBC (one by David Lumb the other is uncredited).

Bham library Birmingham_Library_The Telegraph david Lumb for BBC


draw inspiration

100 50LA Proposed

Work is progressing rapidly on our project down in Putney for the extension and complete refurbishment of a large family home. The centrepiece of this house will be curving staircase based on the principals of the golden section, which flows through a triple height void space, illuminated by a six metre high window.


The design for this stair has been an extremely involved process, going through many iterations to achieve the ideal solution for the client, before settling on a proposal which appropriates the original arts and crafts details of the period property to achieve something both contemporary and striking, that is also respectful of the history and character of the house.


300 50LA Internal Elevations
slats 01

slatted 02

Construction of the final stair is due to start on site imminently, and it should be very exciting to see it take shape!

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Mont Blanc addition – Refuge du Gouter – Opening in 2013

Advent IM Architecture blog Refuge de Gouter

Refuge Du Gouter

A wonderful contribution from Frank Green of Advent IM.

 Refuge Du Gouter is due to welcome guests in spring 2013.

From the website –

“Highest refuge in France, perched at an altitude of 3 835m, the route most frequented by mountaineers from around the world to climb the roof of Europe, the Refuge Taste leave soon replaced by a new building innovative and green, with a capacity of 120 people.

“Think global, act local”, this is the motto of this project.
So locally, in partnership with the town of St Gervais and its territory, what removed almost all of the wood used in construction Taste of the Refuge, reducing again the carbon footprint of construction.
Moreover, this project aims to mobilize all forces, local actors territory. With this in mind, it should be noted that with the exception of lot sanitation (WC wet) attributed to Michel SARL Fraysse SP Maintenance in Marseille, all other batches were awarded to local businesses:

  • business and Sierra de Labat Sillingy (Haute Savoie) for lots “metal structure”, “wooden structure”, “stainless steel cladding” with a part of the subcontracting company CART, carpentry framing cord (Haute Savoie)
  • SARL Gaubicher in Megeve (Haute Savoie) for lots “heating, ventilation,” and “plumbing”
  • consortium craft High Savoy, St Peter Solaravis Faucigny, Elec Domancy Domancy, BDF Passy for lots “Electricity common strengths and weaknesses”

French Federation of Alpine Clubs and Mountain (FFCAM)
​​Vice-President in charge of Federal Built Heritage: Raymond Courtial ”   –

From  DecaLaage Architects

refuge de gouter 2

Manaus – Teatro Amazonas – Jorge Vismara – thank you.

“After spending a month on a boat documenting self sustained communities in the Amazon forest, I had one day off in Manaus before flying back to Los Angeles…

Asked around and the building of the Teatro Amazonas was at the top of the list and not far from my hotel… walking distance.

To walk inside this 100+ years old majestic building after days and days of harsh living in the rainforest was like a trip to Europe in a few steps.
The delicacy of the pieces making part of the decoration, the incredible ancient wooden floors (that you cannot walk with your shoes on)… it was magic… and then looking at the stage from the audience seats… I felt that I was able to hear the Operas and orchestras of decades and decades of performances playing just for me…

Going out stopped to have a coffee at the little coffee place on the side, to stay a bit longer in *Europe*…” – Jorge Vismara

Please visit Jorge’s website here

Holgate Windmill- The Restoration

Holgate Mill Restoration 1939 – replacing the cap

We were delighted to hear from the Holgate Windmill Preservation Society. We were also delighted that they allowed us to use some of these splendid photos of the restoration, not only the recent restoration project but also of the 1939 project to replace the cap of the windmill.  Wonderful pictures, thank you!

These photos from 1939 – of the work carried out by Thompsons Millwrights, were taken by William Gill. The recent photos were taken by Nick Ansell.

If you would like to see the full restoration project and read about the fantastic work that HWPS are doing, then you can visit the website here.

Recent restoration work – replacing poor brickwork, applying a new render. building a new cap, spider and sails.