January 9, 2011

HAT Projects featured in the Observer

We were thrilled to be featured in the Observer this weekend as one of "the brightest of the newest generation of British architects" by critic Rowan Moore, alongside our friends Studio Weave, as well as Practice Architecture, the Cineroleum collective and Feilden Fowles. The Jerwood Gallery was featured in the online gallery of projects by the featured practices. (Though next time, we must design a building that has proportions more attuned to a standard online image so we don't suffer from picture editors' strange crops!) Full text on us follows:

'...Most grown up of all is HAT Projects, a Colchester-based practice run by Tom Grieve and Hana Loftus. It has a substantial, serious building due to open this year, the £4m Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. This aims to be "not too shocking, not the star, not dominating", but "an environment in which to experience and understand art". It stands next to one of Hastings's marvels, the ranks of black wooden towers built to serve the fishing fleet. The dark, ceramic cladding of the Jerwood aims to respect its neighbour but not mimic it. It is a cultural temple, but on the beach, so it has to be civic and informal at the same time.

They talk about "carefully calibrated" spaces like longer-established architects such as Tony Fretton, for whom Grieve once worked, but they are also keen to do more than just design buildings. Their work for Jerwood included finding the best location out of a number of potential towns, and consulting residents, which, as there were some vociferous objectors, was not entirely smooth.

Loftus also worked at the Rural Studio in Alabama, where architecture students have to build real projects, in her case, a house costing $20,000, for local communities. She, too, has the building bug: "There's a joy in making something and you can lose it too easily."

...These five groups of architects do not constitute a movement. They do not have a polemic, a style or a grand theory. But they share a mood, of getting back to the basic pleasures of building. They are opposed to the computerised, corporate, compartmentalised ways big buildings are built now...Their overwhelming desire is to do stuff and to do it in a way that anyone, whether in Littlehampton, Alabama, Hastings or Peckham, can enjoy. It's not a bad way to start.'



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