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All images in this book are the copyright of JTP unless otherwise stated A JTP Press publication All rights reserved © 2016 JTP 23-25 Great Sutton Street London EC1V 0DN www.jtp.co.uk A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-0-9573093-2-6 Printed by Oldacres, London JTP would like to thank the following people for their involvement in helping bring this book together: Emma Hutchinson – Copy Editor Jason Jules – Writer and Interviewer James Maclachlan – Project Management Vicky Paterson – Proof Reader Joe Wood – Design and Layout The following people who were interviewed: Marcus Adams, Eric Holding, Fred London & John Thompson. And finally Harry, the reason for this book.


David (Harry), Ian and Philip, 1955

Dedication Dedicated to all friends and family mentioned in this book, particularly to those portrayed on this page and most especially to Lesley. The journey I have been on this year makes me feel the luckiest man alive to have married such an extraordinary woman. Harry and Les on their wedding day, 1979

Frank Harrison

Harrison and Maria

Bunny Harrison

Maria Patrick, Amy and Maria Ross

Portrait of Harry, by Amit Pimple

Max

Lesley Louise, Bill and Max

Bill Harrison

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he drawings in this book are from David ‘Harry’ Harrison’s work at John Thompson & Partners (JTP) from 1994 to 2015, as well as several from his previous practice, Hunt Thompson Associates. The portraits, typographical drawings and paintings are from Harry’s artistic endeavour over a similar period. The quotations are taken from interviews conducted by Jason Jules with some of Harry’s colleagues John Thompson, Marcus Adams, Fred London and Eric Holding.

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Harry’s grandfather’s cartoons and aerograms sent to his father during World War Two

Excerpts from Bill Harrison’s (Harry’s father’s) book of collages


Architectural Association report, 1974

School report, position in form 28 out of 30, 1960 Harry’s grandfather’s sketch of Saint Andrews Church, Fordham, 1912

During World War One, Harry’s grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps and apparently would often go up in a hot air balloon on reconnaissance. I think that’s fascinating bearing in mind Harry’s aerial drawings. John Thompson

60th birthday party invitation 7


Harry ‘the Mod’, Chris Chapman and John ‘Pinwire’ Collins, West Earlham Estate Norwich, 1965

The Hampstead Thinkers’ Architectural Association, 1972. Nick Leslie, Tony Winlow, Rich Naylor, Adam Zyw and ‘Dave’ Harrison, as he was then known

Do you wanna score man?

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think my choice of career, or rather the career that chose me, came about simply because I could draw. I wasn’t that good at a lot of other things, but I’ve always been able to draw. In contrast to today, when I left school in 1962 being good at drawing was the gateway to a huge number of career possibilities.

Harry with Brian Taylor and Stephen ‘Plug’ Leggat, at Hewett School after the Duke of Edinburgh 50 mile walk, 1962

The steel house where Harry grew up Harry and Mick. Bacton, 1967 Harry, Richard (Pipes) Pennington and Arthur Worsket, life drawing, 1966

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Hellersdorf Community Planning weekend, Berlin, 1995

Community Planning weekend, Shankill Road, Belfast, 1995 An all-nighter with Mike Galloway. The design team would work all through the day and night to prepare the final presentation

Harry the Pencil When we had just started work with Berkeley Homes in the early 1990s, the chairman was a lovely chap called John Jacobs. One day he said to his team ‘what we need on this project is a bit of Harry the Pencil’. The name has stuck.

Hungate Community Planning weekend, York, 2002

Harry - it’s what he’s always been called even his family call him Harry. Virtually nobody calls him David. Fred London

Chandos pub opening

Surveying a flour mill 9


I was lucky to have met Harry. Ha! ‘When Harry Met John.’ When we met there was the magic chemistry.

JT and Harry-boy

We’ve always called each other Harry-boy and John-boy – we still do.

John Thompson

First ever Community Planning weekend, Bishopsgate Goods Yard, 1988

John Thompson

Before we joined John Thompson & Partners, the break up from our previous firm had its difficulties. To push the negotiations along they asked us at one point to draw a picture of where we saw ourselves within the organisation. Harry drew a beautiful little picture which showed a ship, named after our old practice, sinking like the Titanic, a shadowy group of people in a lifeboat, which was us lot, and in the distance, a body in the water swimming away, with an arrow pointing at him saying ’me’. Fred London 10

John-boy, Harry-boy and some bloke in a kilt


The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), Building for Life winner for Charter Quay

Harry is our secret weapon. Ever since we started JTP, and even before then. John Thompson Hands-on planning in the Upper Calder Valley Ready for dancing at Boogaloo

Back to the drawing board

Apparently the composer Frederick Delius couldn’t play the piano. There was a man called Braithwaite who actually played the piano for him. He was Delius’s amanuensis – someone who can do for you what you’re unable to do yourself.

Lesley’s other passion The ‘grumpy old men’ at the office party

Like Braithwaite, Harry’s always bought together stuff that’s been going on in my brain that I could never bring together on paper. John Thompson

Nancy Community Planning weekend, France, 2005

Tampere Community Planning weekend, Finland, 2014

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He’s a natural designer of things. Fred London

Harry and Lesley’s family home

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ince my semi-retirement I realised that I can’t just ‘relax’. My psychology is such that I need projects to work on. I can’t just sit at home and look out at the garden all day, I’d be bored rigid. I need to do things, or just go out and meet friends, go to a gallery or for lunch. My birdwatching is part of this compulsion to be doing things, as well as painting and drawing in my studio at home.

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Harry’s studio


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Harry started as an artist, became an architect and then evolved into an urbanist. Now he’s returned to his art again. Marcus Adams

Sample of Harry’s life drawings

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Harry has wit, empathy and positivity about him, but he’s also a realist, which is reflected in the subject matter he chooses for his personal work. The portraits of the east end homeless men are an example of that – not just the subject matter he chose, but also the way he depicted them. Marcus Adams

Tim, 2014

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Tom, 2014

Andrew, 2014

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n the early 2000s, I started to do a series of 8x10-inch oil portraits of my father, then extended this into a whole series of oils of male friends and relatives. My wife Lesley, my strongest critic, says that I am ‘parsimonious with the paint’. I get to a good likeness too quickly and then stop. Oil paint is expensive! Paul Notley It was Paul ‘the polymath’ Notley who first got me interested in bird watching (as well as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Halsey Ricardo, Detmar Blow et al, Bass Weejuns, Florsheims and John Simons) when our families shared a weekend cottage in the Chilterns where the first red kites were re-introduced to the UK. I first met Paul, a fellow architect, at the Architectural Association in about 1970. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things, especially mechanical, planes, motorbikes, cars etc. He also makes and flies model aircraft. Being totally unmechanically minded, this is not a path of interest I followed him down.

Malcolm Brown One thing I really dislike about Malcolm is that he draws better than I do. Although our pencil drawings can look quite similar, our techniques are miles apart. I work all over the drawing bringing it along simultaneously. Malcolm grids his drawing and completes it square by square from top left to bottom right. The results are dangerously good. One of the many things I like about Malcolm is that he works, like me, in many mediums – pencil, ink, watercolour and oils – and his work is representational. He is fiercely independent and out-spoken and a valued critic of my work, giving honest and intelligent appraisal. He also knows where my flaws are. While showing him a recent watercolour I said there was one small part I was unhappy with. Immediately he said, ‘it’s there isn’t it?’ and he was right. Malcolm, one day I’ll get round to lightening that lampshade!

I have to thank Paul and his late wife Marisa for introducing me to Lesley, for which I’m eternally grateful.

Philip Moore

Paddy King

Gerry Hughes

Malcolm Brown

Ian Harrison

Simon Hodgkinson

Jeremy Hughes

Robert Harrison

Patrick Ross

Jonathan Davis

Clive Jacotine

Paul Notley

Alan Laughlin

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Leo Kay


Gary Arber

Nick Leslie

John Franklin

Peter Short

Simon Young

Harry Paticus

Peter Leonard

Jason Jules

Gary Wright

Lloyd Johnson

Mick Perry, 1951 – 2015

Tony Meggs

A Scottish gamekeeper

John Franklin I first met John when he worked as a furniture designer at a company where Lesley was the secretary. On Friday nights I would go along with his colleagues to drink at the Brahms & Liszt in Covent Garden. I’d only been going out with Les a few weeks and on one of these evenings John sidled up and said ‘I hear you and Les are getting married’. I said I wasn’t aware of it but it sounded like a great idea. He then sidled up to Les and said the same thing. He basically proposed on our behalfs. He also cooked us a very hot curry the night before Amy was born, so he played his part in that as well.

Nick Leslie Nick is my oldest ‘London friend’. We met at the Architectural Association in 1969. We had nothing in common. His father was a surgeon and they lived in the village Manor House. Mine was an electrician and we lived on a council estate. His father drove a Rolls and they had an Aga. We put a shilling in the meter to keep our electrical supply going and Dad rode a moped. They owned cocker spaniels. We had a mongrel. Nick had no interest in football or politics. I had none in the Grateful Dead and Haight Ashbury.

For the last few years John and I have been on walking holidays together around Europe. John was terrified that other people might think that two elderly men together on holiday might be gay so when meeting other Brits he would drop into conversation straight away that we both had wives and children at home. Once he just came straight out with it and said ‘we are not gay you know’.

We had a common interest in pubs and he looked like Jim Morrison and some said I looked like Eric Clapton. During our first conversation in the AA Library he said he came from a village in Leicestershire called Burbage. I said that was where my then girlfriend was from. He said straight away that he’d ‘probably made the beast with two backs with her’, because as son of the ‘Lord of the Manor’ he had ‘Droit de Seigneur’ over all the local wenches.

Johnny thou doth protest too much.

I knew immediately that we would be life-long best friends. 21

Max Harrison


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hen Harry asked me to help with this book it came as a total surprise. After all, what do I know about architecture? I’m into fashion, magazines and music. Sure I like buildings – who doesn’t? But the notion of me getting to grips with the work of an architect seemed a bit of a mismatch. And then I thought about it. I felt like I knew Harry way before I’d met him. I’d known his wife, Les since the early eighties, when she worked at Lynne Franks. I had worked there too – briefly. I met her again more recently through Ally Capellino. Les is her financial director and I’ve interviewed Ally on a number of occasions. Les would recount stories about going on birdwatching expeditions with Harry and about jackets and shoes that he’d bought. A style conscious twitcher – what a combination! By this point they’d been married for maybe 20 years or so but she still sounded madly in love.

Jason Jules is a London-based writer and creative director for House of Garmsville

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Around the same time and completely separately I met this kid called Max. He was about 18 then and a regular at a club I was organising in Shoreditch. It was a mixed crowd, from hipsters to hard-nuts – as well as quite a few hipsters who just pretended they were hard. Max was among the few kids who didn’t fit in to any particular camp. Neither hard nor hip, Max was just cool, and ridiculously well dressed. We’re talking suits, ties, waistcoats, tweed jackets, blazers and cravats – all this in a club where most kids considered matching the colour of their baseball cap with their sneakers as an achievement.


Often he’d say it was something that he’d borrowed from his Dad’s wardrobe. His Dad, Max explained, was from Norwich originally and a mod in his youth – an original mod, not one of those plastic types who came along afterwards. Back then Max still lived at home and he worked in a bookshop. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after school so I kind of got the impression that rather than enrol in a university he opted to read books all day and party all night. ‘You must have pretty cool parents,’ I remember saying to him. ‘Yeah, they’re not bad,’ he replied. And so when Harry and I inevitably did meet, it was like chatting to an old friend, not a new acquaintance. There he was, this sharp-witted and engaging guy I’d known for years, but only just met. Funny, well-dressed and interesting – the conversation would jump from national politics to the local personalities on Brick Lane, to the virtues of a John Smedley sea-island cotton sweater – and back. It was obvious that Harry was all those things, but beneath that lightness and humour was a very serious and sensitive man.

One day Harry asked if he could do a portrait of me. It would be for a joint show he was doing with his friend and fellow artist Malcolm Brown and mine would be one of 20 portraits of friends he would do for the show. He was typically low-key about it – Harry does self-effacing very well. But the portrait captured how I felt at the time, both the good and the bad. And even when I see it now it still brings up some of those conflicting emotions. Afterwards, I wrote a review of the exhibition saying that by responding to each of his subjects’ individuality, Harry had ‘ultimately created a human landscape… an ordered display of meaningful relationships’. Jason Jules, October 2015

Harry had ‘ultimately created a human landscape…an ordered display of meaningful relationships’. Jason Jules

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orn in Norwich in 1947, to Bill and Bunny Harrison, Harry is the eldest of three brothers: David or ‘Harry’, Ian and Philip. They lived in a prefabricated steel council house (the prototype for which was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd) that was built on the western fringe of the city. These were built as part of a massive council house building programme at the end of World War Two, Homes fit for Heroes. Thank the post-war Labour government for the Welfare State. The estate and those around it were known as Monkey’s Island to local bus conductors, owing to the enormous number of baby boomers born in the late 40s and early 50s to the returning combatants and their wives. Harry’s was a happy and hugely enjoyable childhood. Junior school was in a large Elizabethan house, Earlham Hall. Elizabeth Fry, the social reformer, was born there in 1803. It had been converted into a state school to cope with the huge number of children requiring education in the surrounding estates. Located in its own park with the River Yare running through it, it was an idyllic setting. Earlham Hall is now part of the University of East Anglia.

He started work in a local architect’s office as an office junior, running errands, delivering post, doing dyeline prints and making tea – all for two guineas a week. Five years and two more architect offices later and he was earning 30 pounds a week and was ‘good at elevations’. With two A-levels in Art and English Literature and – at the fifth attempt – O-level Maths under his belt while studying at night school, he managed to secure a place as a grant-funded student at the Architectural Association (AA) in London.

Narrowly scraping through his 11+, Harry went to a Junior Technical College. After the third year, pupils opted for a vocational course, the options being Building Construction, Engineering or Commerce. Harry opted for the former. He left secondary school at 16 with five O-levels – Art, English Language, Geometrical Drawing, Land Surveying and Building Construction.

Harry studied at the AA from 1969 until 1974 and qualified as an architect in 1980. By this time he had worked with a number of other London architects, including his unsung hero Tom Kay, whom he believes taught him more about architecture and buildings than he’d ever learnt at the AA. It was in 1978 that Harry started to work with John Thompson at Hunt Thompson Associates.

The five years working in architect offices paid off as the four students who interviewed him said that anybody who knew what a DPC was and even had a rough idea where to put one would surely help convince the external RIBA assessors that the AA was ‘still teaching architecture’. As for his hard-won Maths O-level – for which he’d persevered on the grounds that he would apparently need it to get into architectural school – that was scoffed at.


Jason: So what are you working on at the moment, what sort of stuff? Harry: What, here at home? Jason: At work. Harry: (long pause) Jason: You’ve forgotten. In 1994 John, Harry and five other colleagues became the founding partners of John Thompson and Partners (JTP), growing in 20 years from just 12 employees to 100 strong.

Harry: Yes, I’ve completely forgotten.

Harry retired as a partner in 2012, relinquishing all partnerial responsibilities. He currently works two and a half days a week and is now described as an Architectural Illustrator.

Harry: Yes. When I leave work I leave it all behind.

When Harry retired from the partnership he asked the other partners whether, rather than have a party to celebrate his career at JTP, they would be prepared to sponsor a book of his architectural drawings, which they kindly agreed to.

Harry: No, completely the opposite. I used to worry like mad about work. I would think about it all the time. I think one of the great things about being in semi-retirement and getting rid of all my responsibilities – not having to deal with clients, planners, other consultants etc – means that I just stopped thinking about all that stuff, which is a huge relief. What’s even better is that I feel no guilt about it.

Harry then asked a friend, Jason Jules, to interview him and some of his work colleagues and to write the narrative for the book. Jason also suggested widening the scope of the book to include Harry’s artistic practice as well. This we’ve done. Harry would like to thank the partners at JTP, Joe Wood for the graphic design, James Maclachlan for project-managing the process and Jason Jules, for all their help in putting this book together. The following interview took place with Jason Jules at Harry’s home in Mile End, east London.

Jason: Do you try and leave your work at the office?

Jason: Have you always done that?

But what I’ve observed, and Lesley has pointed out, is that the part of my brain that was taken up by having architectural projects and worrying about deadlines is now taken up by me inventing projects, like the two books I’m working on and doing my own drawing and painting, and my other interests. So I think psychologically I just need projects to work on. I can’t just sit at home and look out at the garden all day – I’d be bored rigid. I need to do things or go out and meet people. I will visit a gallery or go to an oap afternoon film at Rich Mix, or yesterday I had lunch with a friend in Artillery Passage which was fun. I just need to do things most of the time.

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Jason: And so when you were working ‘full-on’ were you always client-facing? Did you have to face planners and developers? Harry: Yes it was part of what my job was. I had to run projects. Jason: But that’s not part of your current job title – you’re described as an Architectural Visualiser. Harry: Yes, but I’m still an architect. One of the few who still uses pencil, paper and a drawing board by the way. Jason: Drawing is at the heart of your work. Harry: It is, but drawing is a means to an end. Architects have always drawn – although now they primarily use computers – but they have always drawn as a means of conveying something which doesn’t exist. They have conveyed to others, such as clients and builders, what the project could be, and how to build it, using whatever technology was available at that time: a stick scratching in the sand, pen and paper, parchment or whatever. The sort of drawings I do now and have always tended to do are inception drawings. They’re drawings at the very beginning of the process. So they represent what might it look like, where might it be? How you build it is something I haven’t done for quite a while, what we call construction, working drawings or production drawings.

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I did it for many years, but there are many people who are much better at it and enjoy that part of the process. For me that was the part of the job that was always the most challenging and the most difficult, and I have to say: dull. Have you ever done an Ironmongery Schedule? I’m not really a very practical person, I can’t make things. I’ve worked with a few people who are equally at home working on projects at inception as they are completion on site, such as my old mentor Tom Kay, but most I think have preferences as to which part of this immensely complex set of skills required to be an architect they are most comfortable with. Jason: The working drawings side doesn’t interest you? Harry: Oh no, it has always interested me. It is impossible to be an architect if you don’t understand how buildings are put together. It’s just my specialist skills are in a different area. I’ve retained a lot about working drawings from when I did them. I see young architects today who are producing drawings on computers and I can quite quickly spot if there’s a mistake or something’s been left out or if there are inconsistencies. The junctions between the roof and the wall don’t work or they haven’t worked out where the downpipes go for instance. Jason: The drawings you do aren’t just pretty drawings then? Harry: No. The stuff has to work and be buildable. My job now I suppose is to make them look as good as possible, to sell the ideas to clients and planners.


Jason: So basically the process is to go and meet the client, or maybe a planner, and then… how does it work? Harry: Well at the beginning of the process you work closely with the client and then, when proposals are firming up, you’ll start having meetings with planners and all of the myriad others involved in delivering projects. Basically projects divide into two sectors, the public and private sectors. Up until we formed JTP we worked in a practice that mainly worked in the public sector, which hardly exists now unfortunately. We did social or affordable housing and what years ago would have been council housing. We also worked with Housing Associations, which also provided affordable housing. Then about 30 years ago John and I started working on Samuel Smiths pubs, which was in the private sector. We fell into it through a misunderstanding. The chairman of Samuel Smiths asked RIBA to recommend architects who did ‘public houses’. We did about 20 pubs for them which was good fun – new builds and conversions. We won a Civic Trust and two CAMRA Pub of the Year Awards during that period. Then, about 25 years ago, we started working for a developer called Berkeley Homes who are a major player in the development world. They were undertaking a joint venture with Sir Peter Scott’s Wetland Trust to build a new wetland centre in Barnes, to be partly funded by Berkeley, building 350 new homes on the adjoining site.

Anyway the whole project was an immense success. And when we set up JTP I was only working on private sector stuff, mainly for Berkeley. One of the big changes in the profession over the past few years, since the almost total abolition of a mandatory fixed fee scale, is that we now tender against other architects for most of the projects we undertake. Jason: And these initial drawings that you do, are they sent with the tender – are they a fixed part of the process or will they change based on the responses from various people? Harry: Yes, initial sketches will be part of the bidding process, and yes, the drawings will change, everything changes all the time. A drawing I was doing last week for example it was for a bid or a project... I can’t remember. Isn’t it terrible? I can’t remember the details at all. Jason: You’re a free man – you left that stuff at the office. Harry: It’s come back to me. I did the initial drawing. It was an aerial perspective, which means it’s a view looking at the development from above, and I did it in pencil and then I sent it off to the printer to put it on watercolour paper because the client wanted it in colour. I gave the watercoloured drawing to the project architect who sent it to the client who then said he wanted some changes. Years ago I would have had to re-colour it, but the beauty of technology is you put the drawing in the computer, scan it and the computer guy

can actually erase bits and match the colours that I’ve used. This is only technology from the past five or ten years. For years I would’ve had to start the whole thing again or I’d just do little overlays of the bits that were changed and then overlay them – a messy and complicated process. One of the things about architecture is it’s not like fine art, it’s a process. You have to have a client, the client has to have access to funds in order to build anything, it’s going to cost and the whole process is full of compromises – negotiating and working with others within the office and the wider world at large. Jason: So it’s a collaborative and collective process? Harry: Yes absolutely, all the way through it’s a collective and collaborative process. If on the other hand you paint or draw for yourself, that’s a process that’s completely self-generated. First you need the motivation. After that you make all the decisions yourself: you decide on the subject matter, the medium to use, the size of the piece. Then when doing the artwork there are multiple decisions to make on tone, colour etc, continuous assessing and reassessing. At the end of a day’s painting I’m often exhausted. In a way I get a much greater sense of ownership from doing a little painting than I do from working on a building project. That’s because at the end of the day, what you thought of as your own has been manipulated by clients and quantity surveyors, planners etc etc. A painting or drawing is all your own work.

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Jason: Does that mean you’ve got some kind of dual personality, where within the work environment you have to be part of a collective process, and on your own projects you can just be an individual who makes all the decisions? Harry: Perhaps. The big difference I think is that the collective process is driven by others really. It’s driven by a programme, by money. You drive the artistic process on your own – and so it’s much harder in some ways. Jason: We all need external pressures though. Harry: Yes, external pressures. You might swear and kick and hate it, but it gets things done. Whereas if you have no external pressure – and I have no external pressure, such as to make money or prepare for an exhibition, from work I do at home – it’s purely for self-interest and my own creative needs. It makes it very difficult if you’ve got a lazy personality, as I have. It’s very hard to get started, but the funny thing is that once I’ve started, I find it hard to stop. I’m sometimes up in my studio drawing and painting and it’s dark outside and the light has changed and when I come back and look the next day I think ‘why did I do that?’, because it looks bloody awful. But you become obsessive about the process and about working on it.

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Jason: That’s a kind of creative freedom isn’t it, being able to see value in the process? Harry: Yes, I suppose so. I mean with work it’s a very complicated thing isn’t it, because it’s basically how you earn money in the main, so there’s a huge impetus for doing it. Architecture is a vocation. Most architects are actually in love with it and it’s something that’s around you all the time. Everywhere you go in the world you can look at architecture and places. Jason: I was going to say can you ever stop being an architect? Harry: You can stop being an architect but you can’t stop thinking like an architect. I think every time one goes to a new city or a new place you naturally observe and look at buildings. The practice we created is as much interested in what we call ‘place’ as we are in buildings, and that reflects my interest as well. We tend to work on projects where there is more than a single building and therefore we are creating places, urban design if you like. The quality of the spaces between the buildings is fundamental to creating good places. It’s where public life happens. Jason: It’s a people-and-places-first rather than buildings-first approach. Harry: Yes, that’s always been part of our DNA really. It’s also about involving people in the process, it’s known as Community Planning, and it’s quite a difficult and challenging process. It is easier to involve people and communities in the process working in the public sector, because the public sector is about delivering things for people and not just about profit. The private sector is about making profits, which is fair enough. They will involve people through a Community Planning process if they think it will assist their profit motive. It often eases the way through the planning system when members of the public become involved in the process, and think they’re being listened to and have had an influence. They are less likely to become objectors.


Jason: I was going to ask how rare it is, this idea of place-making rather than just the building or buildings. Is it common practice? Harry: I think it was almost intuitive in antiquity and classical times and right up to the twentieth century when zonal planning became the norm and ways of accommodating the motor car were needed. I don’t normally do heroes but I think we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Gordon Cullen, who in the 1960s wrote a book called Townscape, which re-examined the whole way we look at our cities. And how did he do it? By seductive drawings and illustrations. He is my role-model in terms of how to create good places and then illustrate them. And no, it’s not common practice. There are architectural practices who work on stand-alone buildings, such as a school, hospital, theatre, art gallery or whatever, which we don’t really do, and there are urban design practices who look at ‘place’. We are unusual as a practice in putting place-making at the heart of how we approach a project and attaching equal importance to both disciplines. Jason: What were Gordon Cullen’s basic principles? Harry: Difficult to sum up in a few words, but I think at a very basic level it’s about how, through looking at the lessons of history, you can create beautiful places and spaces. At a simplistic level it’s to do with the dichotomy and juxtaposition between the formal and informal. Much of urban design is about the relationship between those two approaches and their appropriateness in any particular location. Jason: Can you give an example? Harry: OK, last summer for example we went to the south of France and we visited Aix-en-Provence. We wandered flâneurlike through the medieval back alleyways and streets, which were narrow, car free, small scale, and completely picturesque. We then decided to try and find somewhere to rest and have a grand crème, but we were kind of lost. After a few minutes trying

to get our bearings we spotted a tower, some larger scale buildings and trees at the end of a street and intuitively knew there would be a square with outside tables and a spot of people watching. The tower Cullen would have described as a ‘landmark’ or ‘way-finder’, the trees he would describe as ‘shelter’. It’s all about legibility. The medieval streets you could describe as informal or ‘organically’ laid out, the square and buildings around it as ‘formally’ arranged. Jason: And you are reassured when you find a big boulevard. Harry: Yes, you know that’s where you’ll find shops, restaurants, etc, street life, if that’s what you’re seeking. And I suppose that sort of legibility is what we try to create in our own work. For me it has always been interesting the way streets and spaces work, and our view as a practice – and my view as well – is that the architecture itself can reflect lots of different sorts of fashions and styles and you can mix all those up. You don’t have to always have everything in one style. A lot of our beautiful cities are beautiful because they are an amazing mixture of architectural styles. Years ago on a project at Hungate in York we tried to analyse the characteristics of ‘Yorkness’ – what made York what it is. And it was about a fantastic mixture of different architectural styles and periods all juxtaposed one against another. But of course you can’t create that from new. ‘Yorkness’ was an organic build process. One of the things we sometimes try to do as a practice when we are creating large new places is invent a sort of historical narrative. How might this place have evolved if it had grown organically, around that crossroads, around that bend in the river, on that hill, and then work it out from there. This isn’t about architectural style, it’s about place-making, trying to create a hierarchy of places.

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Jason: Oh it’s a hierarchy, almost like a hierarchy of experience or a variation of experience. So it’s not just this modern environment which can sometimes seem quite sterile? Harry: I think it’s what makes the city of London such a fascinating place and why I love living here, because you’ve got cutting-edge modern buildings and you’ve got buildings and streets from the medieval era and just about everything in between. I read somewhere that a city without old buildings is like a person without a memory. It’s the memory. Jason: Yes. I guess it’s the construct, but it’s actually trying to invest a sense of a soul in a place as opposed to just giving it a function. Harry: I think poetically that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to give it a bit of soul and if places are built like that, it does resonate with people actually. They kind of get it. I’d like to think they do. Jason: It’s a sense that there were people here before us and that we have responsibilities to maintain, rather than simply imagining that this space is for us and we can misuse it because somebody else is going to build something new after we’ve gone. Harry: Yes, we have to preserve the best of the past. It’s our cultural and built history. It’s our memory bank.

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Jason: How political do you think architecture is? How political do you think your work is? Harry: Well I think architecture as a discipline has always had a political element. Prior to the twentieth century, architects would build for the wealthy – palaces, stately homes, private homes for rich individuals and institutions, museums, galleries, civic and public buildings, and so on. I think the Modern movement in the twentieth century was an extremely political movement. Many of the architects of that period would probably have described themselves as communists or socialists. They believed you could and should improve the lot of ‘ordinary people’ through designing and building decent housing. They were on a mission and had a vision that they could create a better society. Many in the UK worked for socially minded local authority architects and politicians. That consensual view lasted from the end of World War Two until Thatcherism when such policies as Right to Buy, which, coupled with stopping local authorities from building more housing, has led to our current chronic shortage of decent, affordable housing with security of tenure for people who can’t afford to buy. It’s the triumph of market forces and selfinterest over the egalitarian principles that many had in the 1950s through to the end of the 1970s.


Jason: Is there any way in your work that you can address this situation? Harry: Good question that. We try to. Our practice primarily just works for the private sector and we’ve tried to have quite a big influence on the way they build and do things. We’ve always believed in mixed tenure, in other words, that housing shouldn’t just be for one social economic group. Ordinarily as an architect you don’t actually have an awful lot of power when it comes to dealing with clients with regard to social issues such as mixed tenure and mixed uses. We’ve had clients who’ve listened and had some who are sympathetic but in the main the answer is no. The prevailing political wind is blowing from the Right. We did manage to convince a number of our clients that the way they could create more value and better places was that they should start building mixed-use developments. In other words they don’t just build housing, they provide other uses, particularly at ground level, such as cafes and restaurants, retail, offices, live/work areas – to create vibrancy and activity. One particular client who we persuaded that this was ‘the way to go’ has become the leading deliverer of mixed-use development in the UK. Obviously mixed-use developments aren’t viable everywhere, but we have been fortunate that most of our developments are in urban centres where there is the kind of footfall, or the catchment, for people to go to restaurants and shops etc, not just in central London but centres outside like Kingston and Putney. If there are enough people in these locations then you can generate the need for the other uses. Jason: It’s almost like making a place self-sustaining in a sense isn’t it? Harry: Yes. Jason: You are obviously a person attracted to an urban lifestyle, could you ever see yourself moving out of London? Harry: No. I might see myself moving back to Norwich, that’s my home city. But otherwise, no.

Jason: Definitely not? Harry: No, I think I’d be bored. Jason: They say that one thing architects never do is go back to the buildings they’ve built, because they just get really disheartened by how people have changed them. Do you ever go back? Harry: Because we built places in public places (and public houses) I actually can. If you build private houses it’s quite difficult to go back because you have no right to go and nose around inside them. But if you’ve built a place which is public, then you can go back, yes. Jason: Do you? Harry: Yes, sometimes. The kind of work we do means we often take work up to planning approval stage and don’t do the production drawings, so there are lots of things that can change. Because I’m a bit of a catastrophist I always assume things are going to turn out worse than they often do. In fact one of the places we designed – called Charter Quay in Kingston – I was really nervous about going back to because when you don’t do the working drawings you lose a bit of control over the end product. Anyway, after the project was completed I was talking to somebody from CABE, and he said, ‘You did that project in Kingston didn’t you, it’s really good, really impressive’ and so I thought I’ll go and have a look at it. It really works well as a place, as a Thames-side environment. Architecturally the development has a number of faces: it both addresses the historic market place and the river, with good permeability connecting the two, which is part of the character of the area. I suppose it’s about architectural responsiveness to a number of different conditions, being contextual. All the ground floor is mixed-use – cafes, restaurants and shops, and a small nature area. It’s a pleasant environment without trying to be too ‘shouty’ architecturally. It won a CABE Building for Life Gold Award, which was nice.

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Jason: Most people assume that an architect is by definition a modernist, that they believe in a better future, they’re optimists.

Jason: The buildings themselves may be impactful, but do they actually work in the context of other buildings?

Harry: I’m a modernist in some respects but I’m not a slave to all things modernist, architecturally speaking. I suppose if I was to label myself I’m a contextualist and think there are lots of solutions to lots of problems which don’t always have to lead down the same path. The appropriate buildings for the appropriate place. We do a lot of analysis of the places we’re working in before we actually start to design anything.

Harry: No I don’t think they do. I’m not a big fan of large footprint glass and steel towers and I think the current trend for multi-coloured cladding panels is awful. It seems to me our great city is being designed by cartoonists.

We never come with a preconception of what something should be like. Unlike some of the big ‘Starchitect’ practices, you kind of know what you’re going to get from them because that’s their thing and that’s why people go to them – they’re very good at what they do. But I think we’re a much broader church. We’re happy to be contextual in terms of materials and design solutions. Jason: A slightly more humble approach. Harry: Yes, it’s about humility to some extent. Perhaps 95 per cent of the built environment is just ordinary background buildings. I think too many architects want to build masterpieces or little gems every time and you get a kind of visual overload. The new buildings in the city of London for example, branded as cheese graters, gherkins, shards and the appalling walkie talkie, they’re all screaming for attention.

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Although I do like the Shard. I think the Shard is special. Every time I see it in an unguarded moment it takes my breath away. I think the reason for that is to do with how the top of the building meets the sky. It tapers as it meets the sky. It’s like the Gothic builders of our great cathedrals who built spires that are graceful and elegant and meet the sky in a sympathetic way. If you have a blunt top it’s a kind of imposition. If it tapers, if it’s slender, I think it’s an elegant way for sky and building to meet. But at the bottom, on ground level, the Shard is awful. If I had absolute power I would demolish all tall buildings in London built in the past two decades with the exception of the Shard. What an enigmatic and mysterious skyline that would be, one day I might even try to draw it. Jason: It’s really interesting, isn’t it, that a lot of buildings, even the Gherkin, seem really not-likethe-Gherkin from close-up. Harry: Yes. Well these buildings are meant to be seen from a distance, they are self-publicising for the people and values that created them. As I say, they are brands, buildings like the Shard, the Gherkin etc.

Jason: So those buildings are not about place-making. Harry: Not at all at street level, where, let’s face it, that’s where most of us are. They’re the antithesis of place-making because it’s all about the building and the shapes it throws. This is what’s important, not how it fits with its surroundings. It’s shape-making made possible by the use of technology, of computer-generated stuff. The great designer of buildings-as-unusualshapes is American architect Frank Gehry. He builds these extraordinary structures, and I think one or two of them in places that are hailed as ‘landmarks,’ or as ‘destinations’ or are said to be ‘iconic’ are fantastic. But if every building is trying to be the new Guggenheim or Bilbao it would be a visual nightmare, an absolute nightmare of a place. You do need a backdrop, I think, of fairly ordinary, quiet, well-mannered, contextual buildings that provide a balance. Gordon Cullen talked about ‘serial narrative’, the way you discover a place by walking through it at ground level, the changing views and vistas often afforded by respectful background buildings with the occasional ‘icon’ or ‘landmark’.


Jason: So buildings have to be satisfying in some way for the person who lives in them or who goes through them. But there’s also a kind of familiarity. Once you’ve discovered a place can it still remain interesting? Should it try? When you walk or cycle home you’re on autopilot aren’t you? You’re not thinking ‘I turn left here, I go right here,’ you just intuitively know the way. Harry: It doesn’t mean that it becomes less enjoyable because you’ve stopped using buildings and spaces as signposts, perhaps you just start looking at other things. Jason: Because for me going home means I notice people. I don’t stop looking at the buildings but I end up seeing Jean-Louis or there’s Eddie or there’s whoever. Harry: Yes, I think people watching can be more interesting than looking at buildings, often a lot more interesting. Jason: Having said that, what’s interesting about this conversation is that it’s blatantly obvious that you’re still passionate about architecture and buildings even though you decided to take a back seat. Harry: As I said before you can stop working as an architect but still go on thinking like one. It’s not just about buildings for me anymore either, it’s about what you don’t build on which is just as important. As I become older and more interested in the environment and the way we’re losing a lot of our natural environments, particularly through my interest in birdwatching, to me it’s as much about what we’re not building on and about preserving precious habitats in the natural world. Jason: Do you think your ability to draw influences your view of the world and that your drawing reflects your general interests?

Jason: So have you ever gone through a period when you’ve just lost interest in drawing altogether? Harry: Yes, when I was a teenager I was more interested in football, music, dancing, clothes, going out and girls. Absolutely, yes. I hardly drew anything then. I think my choice of career, or the career that chose me, was because drawing was about the only thing I excelled at. I wasn’t that good at a lot of other things – just look at my school report – but I’ve always been able to draw. I think I’ve said before that when I left school in the early 60s being good at drawing was the gateway to a huge number of career possibilities, including architecture. It’s a very different scenario today. Jason: Drawing for pleasure must be really important to you then. Harry: Absolutely, I’ve always taken sketchbooks on holiday and I’ve always drawn. I think better with a pencil in my hand. Even when I’m in meetings I’ve always doodled and I usually draw faces or imaginary buildings. Jason: How rude! Harry: Ha. It’s usually faces, because my grandfather was an illustrator and an artist and could really draw people, particularly East Anglian characters of his time.

Harry: If I was less interested in looking at the world and observing it, whether it was people, animals or buildings, I probably wouldn’t draw. If I wasn’t interested in that I might lose interest in drawing I suppose, yes.

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Jason: Did you know your grandfather?

Jason: Do you have many?

Harry: Yes, but not well. He died when I was 11 or 12. He called me ‘boy’ because he couldn’t remember his grandchildren’s names. He was always on a bit of a pedestal for me.

Harry: A few, but not as many as I’d like. One of the motivations for this book was to try to collect together some of the stuff I’ve done over the years because I would love to have a similar collection for my grandchildren to look at.

He wasn’t like a grandfather today. For example, I take Maria, my granddaughter, who is three, to all sorts of things: music, dance clubs, etc. I was trying to imagine my grandfather taking me to things like that. Unimaginable. Children’s relationships with their parents and grandparents is just miles away from what it was. It’s much better now I think. Jason: What kind of artist was your grandfather? Harry: Well he worked for a cider company called Gaymers in Attleborough in Suffolk all his working life, apart from during World War One. He started as an office junior, and because of his drawing and graphic abilities, as well as his wit and imagination, he became Gaymers’ commercial artist, as it was called then. He designed all their advertising and marketing campaigns and he was very good at it. I suppose he was a bit of an early Don Draper, he certainly took smoking and drinking very seriously! He also painted and drew for his own interest and contributed illustrations and articles to a number of local publications. I’ve included some of his drawings and cartoons in this book.

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Jason: And your ability to draw, do you think it was inherited from your grandfather? Harry: Yes, I think so. Drawing to me was never anything I had to practise or try hard to do because it just came naturally and - if you believe in such things – I think I inherited whatever talent I have from him. An interesting fact my father told me was that during World War One my grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps and was involved in flying hot air balloons, gasbags as they were known. He used to undertake reconnaissance flights and draw from the air, which is fascinating if you look at my aerial perspectives. I’ve never been able to verify that but I know during that period he edited a service publication called The Gasbag.


Jason: So did your dad draw? Harry: No. Jason: It skipped a generation? Harry: My father was a practical man with imagination. He could make anything, mend anything, an electrician by trade. He used to invent things and solve problems with simple inventions using whatever was at hand. Although he couldn’t draw he used to make humorous collages from photos, I’ve also included a couple of those. A man of many parts. A socialist and a humanist. My mum was a very spiritual person, dabbled in poetry and was always searching for a belief system. At various times she encouraged jehovah’s witnesses, mormons etc. right through to eastern mysticism! She was a very bright and caring woman. Although she passed her matriculation she couldn’t take up her place at a grammar school as her mother, a widow, couldn’t afford the school uniform and books required. Jason: So what now for Harry the Pencil? Harry: Good question. As most people receiving a copy of this book will know, 2015 has been a very difficult year for me and my nearest and dearest, and as yet we still don’t know the outcome. Up until this setback, life could not have been better: family and grandchildren, many close and entertaining friends, an allotment, drawing, painting, birdwatching, and a new interest for Les and I, Northern Soul dancing. I was happy working two-and-a-half days a week. It seemed about right. I enjoy a lot of respect, I think, and loyalty at work. And I suppose the thing we all take for granted – good health. So what now, a return to good health and more of the same please!

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During a Community Planning weekend people just think you’re asking a bunch of questions, but you’re actually showing that you’re listening. We’re also asking people to be creative – to think in ways that they never do and we’re confronting them with the difficulties of how you make good things happen. It’s a huge task for them and Harry’s role in this process is pretty fundamental. Eric Holding

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I draw very well, but Harry is in a different league. The first time we ever worked together he was drawing this little sketch on a Community Planning weekend in Bishopsgate and he started drawing something on a piece of paper that was the size of a postage stamp. I was thinking, ‘look at you, you can’t draw a picture that small, it’s impossible’. I think I restrained myself from saying this out loud because I hardly knew him. But then I looked. Bloody hell I thought. He made it look absolutely perfect even though it was so tiny. That’s when I realised there was something going on here that was beyond my experience. Fred London

Bishopsgate Goods Yard, Truman’s Brewery

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n a Community Planning weekend, there is no let up. At meals we would ask for paper tablecloths so we could draw while we ate. This is an example of one of those meals, from the project in Aubergenville on the outskirts of Paris. The French clients were outraged that work had imposed itself on ‘le repas’.

The paper tablecloth working lunch Aubergenville Community Planning weekend, France, 1998

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When we left our previous practice we took the crown jewels with us. Harry was one of them. John Thompson


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The Village at Caterham, Surrey

Through Harry’s ability to create the vision we’ve really swung the pendulum in an extraordinary way on a lot of projects – a lot. He’s not just a necessity, he’s our greatest asset. John Thompson

John and Harry’s work is essentially about change management on a grand scale, how you take people on a journey and in the process make them comfortable about a different future. John does it by asking questions and listening and Harry does it by drawing. H is drawings are very good at creating a future that people are comfortable with. Eric Holding

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Out of Harry’s drawing – remember he rarely does one bigger than A3 - I could usually get 20 distinct images. When it came to the presentation people wouldn’t realise I was zooming into the same aerial. They’d think we’ve done so much work it was unbelievable! John Thompson

Hungate, York

We love to start with a blank sheet of paper. We say ‘come along, tell us your dreams, your problems, your fears’. We listen to everybody. We tell them we’re going to produce something for them, a vision. Not in six months, but in the space of a couple of days. The conclusion of our presentation leads inexorably to Harry’s drawings. John Thompson

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Aubergenville, France

It was in 1998 when we went to France to work on a project. It was the first time I heard the term urbanist used to describe someone with a creative vision for urban space. Marcus Adams

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Once we have decided an outline plan, Harry starts immediately drawing the surrounding area. So while our team is working out the plan for the new neighbourhood, Harry’s advancing the aerial sketch. And then between the Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, from his own memory bank, he actually draws out the project for this place which has yet to be designed. I always knew that the last slide would be Harry’s aerial. When that visual was presented you could hear a pin drop. John Thompson

I could zoom right into somebody’s front door and front garden and see their cat being stroked by the neighbour. John Thompson

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Forestmill, Scotland

If Harry was just sitting and drawing and we were designing, it wouldn’t be the same. It all comes out of a team. With the Community Planning process, it’s the amazing culmination of an integrated team collaboration. John Thompson

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Midsomer Norton

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Most of these aerial perspectives are the product of a very intense collaborative process. Sometimes we’re working with a thousand people, sometimes just a handful of stakeholders, politicians or a local mayor. John Thompson

Graylingwell, Chichester

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What are Harry’s aerials really about? What Fabergé did for the egg and what Queen Mary did for the doll’s house, Harry has done for the aerial. John Thompson

Daytime view, watercoloured by Harry. Dalian, China

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Night-time view, coloured on computer by Sean McGarr. Dalian, China

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Cliveden Hospital, Buckinghamshire


For some of the competitions we didn’t win and projects that didn’t happen, you’ll find the best ideas reintroduced and applied to other projects. Marcus Adams

When you look at Harry’s drawings you can see someone who really, really cares about these places. For me, a perfect example is the set of eight drawings for the Cliveden Project. There’s something very magical about them. Marcus Adams

Cliveden Hospital, Buckinghamshire

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Time-lapse photography

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n a few of our presentations we use time-lapse photography, so a drawing that might take say eight hours to draw, and another four hours to watercolour, can be shown in a couple of minutes, speeding up the process, fast-motion drawing.

Very rarely will the buildings end up as Harry drew them, but I always hope the places end up having some sense or spirit of what Harry was conveying. Eric Holding

Hangzou Future City, China

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An important thing I learnt from Harry was that I used to design step by step: design it, design the plans, and then make it look like something. It struck me that he would just draw what he wanted it to look like. In other words he would start at the end. Fred London

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his aerial is a triptych, you can detect the joins. In those days we were rendering with coloured pencils and would often finish up with four or five people working on the colouring simultaneously to meet the deadline.

Hellersdorf, Berlin, Germany


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H arry’s work inhabits this special visionary area between talking something up and actually knowing for sure what something is going to be. What that does is to build trust with people. They believe in something and that allows them to get behind it. Harry’s drawings also buy the designers time to figure out how to get from that imagined future to something real. Eric Holding

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Harry’s version of a Nolli plan for Hungate, York


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Hungate, York

He comes from a tradition of people who explore ideas through continuous drawing. There aren’t many people who can draw like he draws. He was probably inspired by Gordon Cullen’s serial vision and his sketches, but Cullen’s drawings are much looser than Harry’s. Harry draws with a fine line pencil and the detailing is remarkable. Sometimes it looks like it’s been done by a machine, it’s so perfect. Eric Holding

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Hungate, York

Hungate, York

Rome

Rome

Wenceslas Square, Prague 63


If we have been pioneers it’s through our belief that the ordinariness of simple things can actually contribute to quality of life, things that can be forgotten in the pursuit of individuality, like the relationship between a building and the street. I like the phrase ‘background buildings’ – actually a lot of what Harry draws are background buildings. They’re not stunning statement architecture, they’re just things that look ordinary because they’re doing a job. They’re bringing our focus not to what happens inside but what happens to a community, its public spaces and streets. Marcus Adams

Stevenage, Hertfordshire

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T here were some drawings that Harry did for a project in Stevenage dating back to 2000 that were very loose and free flowing – very quick and very scruffy drawings. This was a new kind of project for us because we were starting with a blank slate, not working with already existing structures. Those drawings informed a new way of thinking, ideas about sustainability, low and high density housing, transport routes, it was all there. Marcus Adams 65


Our first big scheme for Berkeley Homes was Barnes Waterside. It’s along the river near Harrods Depository, the same route as the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. If you look really hard, there are two rowing boats – on the page it’s about three millimetres long. If you zoom in with a camera, you’ll see that one of those boats is sinking. John Thompson

Take the London Wetland Centre, for example, which is a project we worked on together. If I remember rightly we’d worked out the basic massing and there might have been some initial ideas about certain elevations and different ways of treating the windows, but he just took all the buildings and drew something that ended up being almost exactly how it was built. He’s amazing at having a feeling and going with it. Fred London

London Wetland Centre

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Barn Elms and London Wetland Centre

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his is the aerial that stopped Berkeley Homes from sacking us. Following the sending of a poorly realised layout, Berkeley Homes intended to fire us. John Thompson asked for one last meeting the following day and asked me to work on an aerial overnight. There were lots of long faces on the Berkeley Homes side of the table until John Thompson unveiled the aerial saying ‘this is what it could be like’. Twenty years later we still work with them. 67


There was a presentation in Essen in Germany. It was held in a big church. We were using slides back then, projected onto a wall. I was in the pulpit giving the presentation. The sun was going down and it was getting darker and darker as the presentation went on. The darker it got outside, the brighter the slides became inside. It couldn’t have felt more magical or moving when at last Harry’s aerial drawing was projected onto the wall. Somebody from the Green Party, previously a real skeptic, came up afterwards and said ‘that was transformational for me, that was a Road to Damascus moment’. To be honest, a lot of people have said similar things. John Thompson

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Community Planning weekend, Crumlin Road, Belfast, 1997


Other people are famous for breathing life into a building or a series of buildings, but Harry does it for a whole neighbourhood or town. John Thompson

Leverkusen, Germany

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Basically he’s so bloody-minded that once he’s finished a drawing he gets very annoyed if you ask him to change it, consequently people don’t dare. I’m one of the few people who has the cheek to say when something doesn’t really work. Sometimes he’s perfectly compliant and other times he’s totally resistant and says ‘nope’ and that’s it. And you think, ‘mmm, what kind of collaboration is that?’ But the problem is that he basically does everything so incredibly well and so quickly that you feel you really haven’t got a leg to stand on. Fred London

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Community Planning weekend, Schlossplatz, Berlin, 1997. Rendered in crayon

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hese were the first water colour vignettes I did. In all the subsequent years I don’t think I’ve improved on them.

Hand drawings by Joanna Allen

Elms Lane, Watford

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One of the features of his aerial perspectives is that you can zoom in on them really closely and everything still looks properly drawn. It’s not like impressionism where you stand back and everything looks detailed and part of the fun is that as you get up close to it you realise that it’s actually a series of blobs. In Harry’s case there are no such conceits. Fred London

Community Planning weekend, Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport, 1999

Harry’s always had the power to very quickly build this wonderful vision that people fall in love with. John Thompson

Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport as-consented

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It’s a bit like smuggling Lenin back into Russia in a sealed railway compartment: we smuggle Harry into strange places. We know what no one else there knows, that on the fifth night there’s going to be this fantastic vision of somewhere in the future.

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he client for this project said she didn’t want an aerial so I produced one locked in a side room apart from the rest of the team, John Thompson’s comfort blanket if you like. The client was delighted when she saw it.

John Thompson

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Rochester Riverside, Community Planning weekend, 2000


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B ecause you have to draw figures all the time to populate the drawings, it’s useful to have models that you can repeat. With Harry’s repertoire, part of the fun was just looking at each picture trying to work out where each of these characters appeared before. One of my favourites is a guy who’s always bending over his bicycle putting a lock on it. Then there is the man in a t-shirt and jeans – if it’s a drawing close to water he will have a pair of binoculars around his neck. If you look carefully you’ll be able to spot these figures in some of his drawings. Fred London

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might see myself moving back to Norwich, my home city.

You can sense that he invests emotion in his work. When he really loves a project, you can just tell. It’s not very often that he’s asked to do a drawing he doesn’t want to do, but my sense is you can tell, there is a difference. Eric Holding

Southern Quarter Renaissance, Norwich

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Harry’s one of the surviving ‘universal men’, who are able to draw, think and write. It’s a completely human activity to be able to connect the mind and the eye and the pencil in one simultaneous process. It’s just wonderful to see it and I’ve been privileged to have shared lots of wonderful occasions with Harry. John Thompson

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here was an architect present at the King’s Cross planning weekend who said that as an architect he knew it was impossible to do a detailed aerial perspective in time for the presentation and therefore it must have been prepared beforehand. So I put the start and finish date/time on it to prove it had been done at the event and it had taken 14 and a half hours.


Community Planning weekend, King’s Cross, London, 1990

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We’re not about designing huge buildings that are shiny and clever. We want our buildings to look good of course, but we invest in creating part of a city or a town and it’s more about what happens outside the building or dwelling. I think we’re in quite a unique position. Lots of people do aerials now, but previously it wasn’t a regular way of trying to convey place, by looking down on an area from above. That’s sort of become our identity really. Marcus Adams

What I quickly learned from Harry when I began working with him was that it’s only when you start drawing something that you see what it’s like – and it’s always different from what you thought. Initially I was concerned at the speed at which Harry would draw something. But I soon realised that it’s ok, because if you have a first reaction and draw it, it gets something on paper and then you can develop it further. During that development process you might find that it’s a bad idea and change it, or that it was a good idea and you can continue in that direction. But if you don’t draw at all you’re actually just stuck. Fred London

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He can be extremely analytical – he has a very clear insight about how things can be. Fred London

Kew Bridge, London

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I started working with Harry and John as a student doing work experience in the year Prince Charles and Lady Diana married. There was an announcement in the paper that the newlyweds were going to live in a large country house and Building Design Magazine ran a competition asking people for their thoughts. Harry did a drawing – I remember it very well. It was very funny, a kind of tongue-in-cheek Heath Robinsonstyle drawing. One of the partners at that time was Ben Derbyshire and I remember that Ben drew the helicopter in the piece. It’s the only time I’ve ever known Harry to not draw something on one of his drawings. Eric Holding

Fantasy house for Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Extract from Building Design Magazine

Dickens Yard, Ealing

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O ne of the things that amazes me is that he always manages to make it all fit on a page – diagrams, text, everything. He’s got a kind of iron will that makes it fit. He might have left some letters out of a word to squeeze it in, but he still manages to make it look incredible. Fred London

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Stag Brewery, London


Stag Brewery, London

As an architect, every time you go to a new city or a new place, you naturally observe and look at buildings. But as a practice, we are as much interested in what we call place-making as we are in architecture.

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There’s a big difference between what Harry does and what other architectural illustrators do. People look at Harry’s drawing and there’s a humanity there. They say ‘yes, that’s what we talked about’. Eric Holding

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Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye, Moscow


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What he draws is really about the space between the buildings. Marcus Adams

Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye, Moscow

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One of my concerns is that he’s such a wonderful draughtsman, he can even make bad buildings look good. Fred London

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Watford Junction, London


Watford Junction, London

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People think it’s great that we have computer programmes with the capability to design a building in three dimensions very efficiently and very quickly. But you rarely see anybody with a pencil and a pad at the beginning of this process working out what the design language is. John Thompson

O

n our Chinese projects the client thinks that John Thompson does all the drawings, hence the time-lapse photographs showing John getting ready to draw his ‘vision’. Then it cuts to my hand doing the actual drawings.

Time-lapse photography

Wuxi, China

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T

he client on this project cropped the drawing so the red kite was omitted. I was furious as the project was in Kidbrooke, and kid was an ancient name for kite, which made its presence completely appropriate. The aerial was for a competition that we didn’t win. The red kite would have made all the difference.

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Kidbrooke, London


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Watercolour, Surrey

Have the places all been as good as Harry’s drawn them? Probably not, but I think deep down he has to be an optimist at heart to do what he does. Marcus Adams

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If a space works at ground floor and at street level it sometimes doesn’t really matter what’s going on above. I think Harry figured that out a long time ago in his drawings. I’d like to work with more young architects designing contemporary buildings using this idea – that if they can be drawn by Harry and convince me that they will work at ground level, then I know people will love them. Harry’s work is a kind of litmus test in a way. Eric Holding

Stillorgan, Dublin

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Harry’s work seems to make the distinction between physical space and a kind of ‘spatial spirit’. His drawings capture that complexity. Marcus Adams

Stillorgan, Dublin

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Fairmile Hospital, Oxfordshire

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T

hese might be some of the first aerials I did where I used the technology afforded by computer-aided design (CAD). Before I had to set up everything by hand, a much more time-consuming activity. Now, using CAD, the outlines and massing of the buildings can be traced and then I apply the architectural details. As somebody said, if you can draw and you trace, it doesn’t do any harm. But if you can’t draw and you trace, it doesn’t help at all.

Fairmile Hospital, Oxfordshire

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Most times people look at architectural drawings and they’re just looking at the detail of the buildings. But with Harry’s work it’s possible to enjoy the drawing as a piece of art. Eric Holding

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Hotel Europa, Prague


He has an ability to produce something instantaneously and capture a feeling. Through computer drawings we can visualise a building, or maybe two or three buildings, and then we can understand the definition of space between those buildings. But to be able to occupy that space with life, people, landscapes, seasons... he has the ability to convey the spirit or soul of a place. Marcus Adams

Hotel Europa, Prague

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H

arry is a keen birdwatcher and often draws birds on his aerials. A ‘bit of an anorak’, he has been monitoring bird populations on his local patch in London’s east end since 1998. His bird reports are used by various birdwatching and biodiversity bodies.

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For me, it’s not just about the creation of buildings, it’s also about the land we don’t build on. As I became more interested in birdwatching and the way we’re losing a lot of our natural environments, I began to think more about the importance of preserving places, landscapes and the natural world.

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P

aul Notley, a qualified glider pilot, could tell you what type of plane this is, when it was built, what horsepower it has, what its role was and even what sort of goggles the pilots wore.

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I

always take a sketchbook on holiday and a pair of binoculars for birdwatching.

In these sketches on the Isle of Skye, as well as the topographical sketches in pen, I also drew an ordnance survey-type map of the location and wrote down all the birds I saw whilst doing the sketch.

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114


When he draws his aerials he needs a base image to work from. He knows exactly what he’s looking for. He will say, ‘have you got a view from here, here or here?’ He’s done so many of them he absolutely knows what produces the best kind of image. You’ll be thinking, ‘I’m not sure’, but he’ll know. Eric Holding

T

his aerial is coloured using copic pens, which are quick and easy to use. However it’s difficult to create depth and atmosphere. The finished product has an ‘all the same’ quality. Watercolour is definitely my preferred medium, but it’s more hit and miss. If speed is the criteria, or if you lack the confidence to use watercolour, then use copics.

Razdory, Russia

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S

t Clement’s Hospital. The trees in the background are Tower Hamlets Cemetery, one of my birdwatching sites, a liberal dash of burnt sienna and raw sienna with the greens – it must be autumn.

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St Clement’s Hospital, London


He seems to have perspective built-in, so whatever he draws it always looks as if it’s in the right place – particularly with things like a kerb in the foreground. It’s more difficult to draw things that are closer to you and make them believable. He somehow just naturally arrives at it as if he’s almost tracing something that’s in his mind. Fred London

A pencil view of St Clement’s. I particularly like the ‘transparent tree’ effect

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I

really enjoy an aerial if it’s a watery scene, whether a sea, as in Cleethorpes shown on the opposite page, or a canal system, as in Changzhi on the pages to follow. I’m always playing around with the blue to use. Sometimes it’s cobalt, sometimes ultramarine or perhaps prussian. I still don’t know which I prefer.

Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire

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Changzhi Island, China


Harry’s ability to sketch, and his ability to bring together the mind, the heart and the hand, are absolutely unique. John Thompson

Changzhi Island, China

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The emphasis on landscape is to illustrate the lack of coalescence between the new development, in the foreground, and the surrounding villages.

Channels, Chelmsford

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A

lot of peripheral landscape is fun. I’m always messing around with how to represent trees. The project below is in Sweden so there are lots of fir trees, using a softer pencil and touch, compared with the urban Kew Bridge project opposite.

Upplands Väsby, Sweden

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Kew Bridge, London

This aerial of Kew Bridge is in 0.2 pentel pen. I feel that a more urban project is conveyed better with a harder, darker line. A softer medium is better for more rural projects.

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I

t’s great fun to draw whole sections of a city like London and then see how your little part of it fits in, as in the case here at Fulham Reach.

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Fulham Reach, London


Southall Gasworks, London 127


W

hen I’m drawing places like these, where no architecture has been designed and I’m working from a layout plan, the buildings just flow from the end of my pencil. We’re usually on a tight programme so there’s no time to agonise over particular buildings. I just go with the flow from my visual memory bank.

Xiasha, China

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Xiasha, China


Water, water everywhere in these Chinese and Russian projects.

Zhukovsky, Russia

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Moscow Central, Moscow

O

pposite shows the time-lapse photography of my watercolouring of Moscow Central, and the finished article above. I always start with water, if there is any, then landscape, throwing in a dash of burnt sienna or raw sienna to get a touch of autumn, then the buildings, and finally the shadows, which make the drawing three-dimensional, bringing it to life. Shadows are a mix of cobalt blue and cobalt violet, my favourite colour. Monet described it as the colour of the atmosphere.

Time-lapse photography

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Harry is of the city and of places and when he draws he just draws life. When people see his drawings they think ‘I’d quite like to walk into that drawing, that looks like quite a nice place to be’. I believe in Harry’s view of the world – a street scene with life at the heart of it. Eric Holding

I think if you look at his drawing journey, he began doing aerials, then the vignettes, then moved on to draw the Academy of Urbanism’s places. Marcus Adams

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clifton bristol

Hold your arms wide apart, like this, Like a fisherman praising a fish To describe that incredible bridge. Then bring your hands together this way To applaud Clifton’s buildings, each day Renewed by light and cloud interplay. Then stand on a corner and think Of this ‘place on a hill’, this link With the past and the future; drink In the views that astonish the brain; Then turn round a corner and drink them again!

Most architects are in love with architecture. It’s something you can be in love with that’s around you all the time. Everywhere you go in the world you can look at architecture.

Harry was the Academy of Urbanism’s Artist in Residence for seven years

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T

he Academy of Urbanism was another of John Thompson’s initiatives. His mission was to put urbanism and ‘place-making’ at the heart of the built environment and promote good practice through an academy that annually selects good examples of urbanism at the level of city, town, neighbourhood, street and place. The selected places would be represented by a figure ground plan, a poem by Ian McMillan and a drawing by Harry. The winner of each of the five categories would be announced at an annual award ceremony.

If my task today is to try to squeeze London into these few urban lines I’ll have to think of all the languages That sing in this city from across the map; That whisper like a stream, gush like a tap. This is a city built on sentences, On arguments and on reflections, On points of view and intersections Imagined and real: high rises of the soul With train line, palace, office block, school Park, theatre, bus stop, river An A to Z that goes on for ever.

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london


The URBANISM AWARDS 2013

DAVID ‘HARRY’ HARRISON Artist-in-Residence The Academy of Urbanism 2006 - 2012 With thanks from the Directors of the Academy, our Academicians and all the Great Places that you have brought to life over the last seven years.

HARRY THE PENCIL He’s Harry the Pencil. He’s sharp. He’s to the point. With his eyes and his fingers he really can anoint Any setting, any place, with a kind of majesty: Just give him a little time and a pencil or three. He’s Harry the Pencil. He’s to the point. He’s sharp. He plays upon the pencil like others play the harp; Expressing Space and Place and Life through lines across a page As though the pencil is an actor and the paper is the stage. He’s Harry the Pencil. He’s sharp. He’s to the point. He fixes perspective to reality like others fix a joint On a table or a chair. And he does it from above With a mixture of technique and vim and verve and love. He’s Harry the Pencil. He’s to the point. He’s sharp. Takes his time to catch an angle like an angler after carp: Skilful, patient, thoughtful and when all’s been done and said Let’s celebrate a man who’s pencil’s always full of lead!

Poem written by the ‘Barnsley poet’, Ian McMillan, on Harry’s retirement as Artist in Residence for the Academy of Urbanism

John Thompson, Honorary President

Kevin Murray, Chairman

Ian McMillan, Poet-in-Residence

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A

typical series of vignettes produced during a Charrette process, in this case in Poland. The aerial and vignettes will normally take a couple of days to complete.

Warsaw, Poland

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Warsaw, Poland

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W

est Ham’s first home game of the 2016-17 season. There are 16 swifts in this aerial, three of my local patch birdwatching sites, and you can also see my house from here.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

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Sketch of Old Town Square – office trip, Prague, 2006

Sketches from office trip, Lisbon, 2007 140

Analysis of place drawings


Banbury

I

enjoy describing a place or scheme with a bit of sky writing, analysing how a project may work as a townscape.

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T

here are three different drawing styles in this sketch from a project in China. Don’t ask me why.

Suzhou, China

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Fuyang, China

Hainan, China

I don’t think I’ve ever known Harry to draw anything that’s not real. And I don’t think he’s ever drawn an internal space. I can’t imagine him ever drawing the inside of a room. What he draws is about the space between buildings. Marcus Adams

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Suzhou, China

Eden Street, Kingston-upon-Thames

I

love drawing the paraphernalia and untidy parts of streets, bus stops, shop signs, telephone kiosks, even the odd dog turd... the clutter and chaos on the street that is easy to overlook but is essential to the urban experience.

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Northstowe, Cambridgeshire


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D

rawings from a project in Fleet, which show pencil and watercolour renderings of the same view. Sometimes I prefer the black-and-white versions, other times I don’t. The original drawing which I do on tracing paper is then copied on to watercolour paper.

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Edenbrook, Fleet, Hampshire


Edenbrook, Fleet, Hampshire

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A

contrast in drawing styles – on this page a looser, sketchier technique, on the opposite page a tighter ruled drawing using a T-square and parallel motion. ‘What are they?’ I hear younger architects saying. Sometimes a hurried sketch can capture a more animated scene than a more studied drawing.

Medina Yard, Cowes

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If you look at his drawings they just have a perfect line quality. If I’m halfway through a drawing at the end of the day I’d want to finish it off, whereas I have this vision that Harry – who’s incredibly family focused – will be mid line and think ‘right, it’s 5.30, I’m off’. Then the following morning he’ll sit down, pick up his pencil and no one would be able to see that there was any join at all. Fred London

Poole Harbour, Poole

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Wapping, London

A

series of drawings for an unsuccessful competition in Wapping. The sketches explore the new spaces enclosed by buildings, with sky and water rendered in colour.

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It’s not about a style of architecture, it’s about the movement through a place and the way we experience it. It’s called serial narrative, the different vistas and the way views of buildings unfold and reveal themselves.

The final competition drawings were left in black-and-white, which sometimes works better for more contemporary buildings, although I think I should have coloured the sky and water as this would have been more dramatic.

Wapping, London

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T

aking a sketchbook into the street and drawing is fraught with tension, excitement and potential. I love it. To be completely absorbed in the task, to record comments of passers-by, the constant movement of traffic, people, sun and shadows. The drawing of Seven Dials took three sessions over three consecutive days.

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If you paint or draw it’s a process that is completely self-generated. You decide on the medium, you decide on the size of the thing that you’ve got to draw, you decide on the subject matter, how you do it, everything.

Sp ot t he re f e re n ce to Et in Ar c ad io E go u Po by s si n?

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M

y favourite view of my native city, and the ideal place to eat a bag of chips, overlooking Norwich market, looking towards the castle. This was my 2014 Christmas card. My artist friend and critic Malcolm Brown particularly liked the clouds, but was less keen on some of the other features.

My oldest friend Paddy King sat with me for the two days this took to complete recalling our earliest school memories and mod days. ‘Do you want to talk or do you want to draw?’ he asked. I did a bit of the latter while he did most of the former.

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Camden Lock, London

This drawing, of a pub at Camden Lock for Samuel Smiths Brewery, was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1989. I had a purple patch of successful hangings in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I haven’t submitted for many years now, perhaps in 2016...

Norwich market and castle

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I

did this drawing on a painting course at Staithes. It was raining so I couldn’t paint and did some of this pencil drawing sheltered under a copy of The Observer. When the tutor for the course saw it he became quite emotional and almost tearful. Malcolm, who was on the same course, said ‘its not that bad a drawing’. He also criticised the hard lines around the roofs.

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Staithes, North Yorkshire


This is a drawing of the hotel we stayed in with Max on a trip to Chicago, following the wedding of my daughter, Amy, and her husband Patrick in 2012.

Lakeside Inn, Lake Michigan

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Shingle, Sky, Sea, Tractor and Boat, Great Yarmouth

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Venice


Florence

Corfu Town

The Loop, Chicago

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T

his drawing of Cowcross Street was done whilst on a drawing course organised by the Prince’s Drawing School. The course is called Drawing in the Street, and has a very insightful tutor, Tim Hyman. When he saw my very first drawing on the course he commented that ‘I normalised everything’. When I asked him if that was bad he replied that ‘Gwen John looked for the strangeness in things’. I think I’m still looking.

Cowcross Street, London

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A couple of years ago, when Harry started using a larger sketch book, he did drawings around London. There’s one he did of Seven Dials and another of St John Street – they’re just incredible drawings. The one he did of Seven Dials has a tree in the foreground and as he was sitting and drawing he would record the words he overheard from passersby onto the sketch. At first you don’t notice it, and then you look closer and realise he’s written things like ‘is there anywhere to eat around here?’ or ‘I’ve got one of your drawings on my wall’ and ‘that’s well good’. Fred London

Same view done a year earlier in pen

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The Seven Dials, London


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Recently at a Charrette in Warsaw, he was so enamoured by these buildings when we walked around the Old Town that he said ‘I’m going to draw those’. We were saying ‘look Harry, you’re here to work on the project, not to draw pictures of Warsaw’. Fred London

T

he Old Town was completely destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. Amazingly the town was rebuilt as it had been previously. You can see the date of the re-building on the gable of one of the buildings, 1954.

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Warsaw, Poland


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B

ecause the priority was to do the Warsaw project work, I did the basic building outlines ‘on-site’ and took photographs to complete the drawings at home. Spot the deliberate mistake with the shadows on this sketch. Malcolm did!

Warsaw, Poland

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He somehow managed to find time to do a beautiful set of drawings (pages 136137) for the project and draw these fantastic pictures of Warsaw as well. Fred London

T

he view from my hotel bedroom in Warsaw of Uncle Joe Stalin’s gift to the Polish people. There are seven identical towers in Moscow. Nice sky Malcolm?

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Warsaw, Poland


Warsaw, Poland

More sketches drawn whilst on a charette in L端beck.

L端beck, Germany

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Christ Church, Spitalfields

Greenway. former cement works on site of Olympic Park, London

A

selection of watercolours, the most difficult of mediums.

To be a good watercolourist takes a whole lifetime of practice, plus half an hour.

The Sapphire Sea 170


Barges, Victoria Park, London

Transylvania

Transylvania

Durham Cathedral, based on a watercolour by Cotman 171


M

y father-in-law, Gerry, is a collector of Victorian watercolours. Every Christmas I give him a watercolour copied from an eminent watercolourist of the period and tell him that I found it in my attic and it must be an original by the artist.

Copy of a watercolour of Venice, by Richard Parkes Bonnington (1802-1828)

Bury Farm, Sewardstone

St Dunston’s Church, Limehouse

Staithes 172


Marsh Acres, aka Foggy Bottom

Berwick Farm

Greenhouse, Foggy Bottom

Grand Union Canal at Limehouse 173


T

hese sketches were done on a combined horseriding and birdwatching holiday in Romania. We got side-tracked into visiting the extraordinary Saxon villages in Transylvania, of which these are examples, drawn with a fine pen.

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Monastery of Evangelistria, Skopelos

PĂŠret, Languedoc

These are watercolour postcards I sent to my parents from holidays in France and Greece.

River Dourbie, Millau

Monastery of Padroumo, Skopelos

Skopelos 175


S

ketches from walking holidays with John Franklin along the Amalfi Coast, Majorca, Corfu and Tuscany.

I would sketch while John went looking for watering holes and places to eat...

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I often record the birds spotted during sketching on the margins of the drawings

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Unsung hero, Tom Kay

I don’t know how much his drawings have changed over the years, because to me, Harry’s always drawn like Harry. Eric Holding

Guess who? Pencil portraits

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Many people have said to me over the years, ‘how clever to be able to draw like that’, or ‘how long did it take you to learn to draw like that?’ Both statements are based on a false premise. It’s something I’ve never had to work at. Whatever talents I possess are, I believe, a combination of an inherited drawing ability from my grandfather and imagination from my father.

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Frank Harrison

Malcolm ‘Bill’ Harrison

Following his retirement my grandfather contributed articles and illustrations to the East Anglian magazine. The text below is how he introduced himself to the readership in March, 1952.

Bill Harrison, an electrician by trade, but a man of many parts: inventor, gardener, mender of anything, humourist, humanist and environmentalist. He married his childhood sweetheart, Bunny, in 1946 and I was their honeymoon child. On a day trip to Lowestoft when I was about 10, we passed a hotel where he pointed to a window and said ‘that son is where you were conceived’. At that time I had no idea what he meant.

Was born at [sic] Ipswich. ‘Sometime after the relief of Mafeking’ he migrated to Norfolk and has lived there ever since. He helped to edit and illustrate a service journal in London. Previously he was a regular contributor to newspapers and was the first columnist to operate in Norfolk. This source of income – at three farthings a line – dried up following threat of libel action. Until retirement in 1949 was engaged ‘by precept and practice’ in stimulating consumption of alcoholic beverages. Dislikes professional football and amateur theatricals. Hobbies: drawing, writing, looking backwards. Maintains that East Anglia had rights equalling those of Scotland and Wales regarding home rule and, to this end, hopes the dialects of Norfolk and Suffolk will be perpetuated.

He was a stoical man who rarely showed emotion. I never saw him lose his temper. He and my mum were liberal parents. Any admonishment, and there were plenty of reasons for it, was carried out with imagination but in order to teach a lesson. For example, the first time I stayed out all night (I was about 16), I crept in during the early hours and as I was getting into bed my Dad said ‘David, you’d better go and call the police as we’ve reported you missing’. The nearest phone box was about a quarter of a mile away. I got dressed and dragged myself there only to be told by the desk sergeant that there was no report of a missing person and to stop wasting police time. An important lesson that parents do worry, something I’ve become aware of over the years of course.

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John Thompson

Marcus Adams

Professionally I owe most to John Thompson. Without John’s influence and vision my career may have taken a different, less fulfilling and less interesting path.

Marcus is the Managing Partner of JTP. He is also the most energetic person I have ever met. Ordinary mortals have to make do with 24 hours in a day. Marcus’s day seems to consist of 36.

Much has been written by others, and John himself, in this book about mine and John’s working relationship. John has a talent for spotting people with whom he can collaborate in fulfilling his visionary ideas and ideals, ranging from pioneering Community Planning and Urban Villages to the Academy of Urbanism. He has referred to his collaborators as ‘spear carriers’. They inhabit countries throughout the world and John manages to inspire a level of devotion and loyalty to his causes in them all. In me he recognised someone who could give a visual form to some of his ideals and ideas. I don’t consider myself a visionary, but I can recognise the value and worth in much of what John was trying to achieve and was only too happy to become an enthusiastic contributor with the skills at my command. John would talk and inspire and I would draw and convince. I have always said if it was the other way round we wouldn’t have survived a week in business! Most importantly we became committed friends, co-conspirators and allies working on extremely challenging projects in sometimes exotic and sometimes mundane locations, with at times hostile and demanding communities, critics and clients. Our team was a revolving door of different nationalities from all disciplines, ranging from economists to environmentalists, engineers of all kinds to eco-warriors. It was often tough but always enormous fun and ultimately immensely rewarding. The combination of our very different talents has been a fantastic journey.

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As well as managing an office of 100 people, he also runs and manages a large number of complex planning and architectural projects. For leisure he follows his beloved Port Vale at home and away, bearing in mind a ‘home’ match is in Stoke! He is an enthusiastic tennis player and undertakes mammoth cycle rides often to support charities (unfortunately clad in Lycra) and also finds time to take his two sons camping, or boating or to watch them play football (probably the worst touchline father ever). I detect the presence of a good woman somewhere. Marcus completely transformed JTP in 2006 in terms of management style and delivery of projects when he took control of the practice, and the office has never looked back. In 2009 when I said that I wanted to retire as a partner, it was Marcus who said ‘no, I want you to stay, just write down all the things you don’t want to do any more’. It was a very long list! I said I wanted to work less and the only thing left off the list was spending time at my drawing board doing what I enjoyed best, drawing. And that’s what happened. I do owe Marcus an apology. A few years ago he and I went to a meeting with clients on a scorching hot day and we got stuck in a lift together. During a very sweaty few minutes I said I would paint his portrait. One day Big Fella.


Harry the Pencil documents the illustrations of Harry Harrison; a talented artist, architect and founder partner of award winning practice JTP. Part professional, part biographical, the book covers the last 20 years of Harry’s career, and includes a range of his work. Harry’s portraits and sketches offer an insight to his interests and home life, whilst his distinctive visualisations of aerials and vignettes illustrate towns, neighbourhoods, streets and spaces. The images are woven together with contributions from long term colleagues, as well as the man himself. The resulting book presents a beautiful and important life’s work. Not only is the artwork truly exceptional, the text itself is hugely informative, touching, and graced with a humour and joie de vivre that make it a pleasure and an inspiration to read.

ISBN 978-0-9573093-3-3

9 780957 309333 UK £30

Profile for JTP Press

Harry the pencil  

Harry the Pencil documents the illustrations of Harry Harrison; a talented artist, architect and founder partner of award winning practice...

Harry the pencil  

Harry the Pencil documents the illustrations of Harry Harrison; a talented artist, architect and founder partner of award winning practice...

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