Michael Squire, architect and founder of Squire & Partners sat down with Upscale Living Magazine to discuss some of his current projects. Here is what he shared with us.
How did your journey as an architect begin?
My father was an architect, and in my family, we talked architecture from when I was very young. It was always my ambition to be an architect, and it has not let me down.
What / who do you draw your inspiration from?
The tree symbol explains the way we think about architecture at Squire and Partners, and it expresses the importance we set upon designing buildings that are rooted in the history and culture of their location. We do not turn the tree upside down and replicate the past, but we do believe that anything we design should have a fundamental connection to its place. In the case of Clarges Mayfair, the scale, proportion, and materials of the building are all drawn from the context. The windows have a classical verticality, and the columns are clad in Portland stone, which is the traditional London material for important buildings. The balustrade details have a pattern that is drawn from the bark of the London plane trees which line the north of Green Park on the opposite side of Piccadilly. The column bases are fluted, making a reference to many of the fluted columns to be found in Regent Street and Piccadilly. The bronze window frames are typical of many of the buildings in Mayfair. For all these reasons, Clarges has its roots in Central London neoclassical architecture, but its detailing is clearly crisp and contemporary.
What are/have been the biggest challenges in your creative process?
We decided to construct Clarges Mayfair from prefabricated materials manufactured off-site, but the design was inspired by buildings constructed in traditional handset stone. Prefabricated materials need significant movement joints at their interfaces. The challenge of the project was to create a prefabricated building that had all the characteristics and qualities of hand-set stone.
What inspires you to work on a specific project?
The project location, its profile, its quality, and its end-user are all sources of inspiration in undertaking any particular project.
What does your work process involve?
All our buildings are initially conceived with hand sketches explaining the design concept and the proposed proportions, scale, materials and details. These hand drawings are then reproduced as CAD drawings and computer-generated images. Once the concept has been agreed and approved, we proceed into the process of construction, specification and detailing. During the course of the evolution, we communicate our ideas to the public, we negotiate detailed planning applications and building regulations approvals, and we direct and supervise the construction on site.
Important lessons along the way?
Try to absolutely understand and agree on the design concept before moving into the delivery of detailed drawings.
The favorite part of your job?
Receiving a new commission, visiting and exploring the site, and producing the initial sketch ideas for the development.
What do you think sets your designs apart?
The answer to this question is contained in the answer to question two.
What is the best thing about being an architect?
The best thing about being an architect is that I absolutely love my job and, despite being well past the age at which many people retire, I still enjoy every minute of it.
What has been your favorite building to design? I know, it’s like asking who is your favorite child, but there must be a special one?
This changes all the time, but although it is a long time ago I still have a very strong feeling for Vogans Mill on St Saviours Dock.
Describe your designs in three words.
Connected, crisp and calm.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have become?
I have no alternative.
What exciting projects are in the pipeline for the rest of 2019 and 2020?
Most of them are confidential and the subject of overbearing non-disclosure agreements, but we do have special commissions for a new hotel close to Charing Cross station, breathing life and restoration into Space House, which is a Seifert building on Kingsway, and a small co-working office which we are building for ourselves in Brixton adjacent to our offices.