I was born in 1953, brought up and educated in Leicester, and studied architecture at Manchester University. After graduating with a First, I won a Thouron Award to study for a Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, a course presided over by the legendary Ian McHarg, author of the classic book Design with Nature and pioneer of ecologically-based planning and design. On returning to Britain, I decided not to pursue landscape design as a career, but the time with McHarg left an indelible mark.
After a period in practice, I took up a Lectureship at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff. Four years later I spent the first of two periods at the Leicester School, leading the undergraduate course and then the postgraduate Diploma. For two years I was Head of School at Portsmouth. In 1999 I returned to Cardiff, first as a Professorial Research Fellow and then as Professor of Architecture, eventually taking early retirement in 2013.
Alongside my teaching, much of my time was spent conventionally enough, writing articles and books. My 1995 monograph on the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto won the Sir Banister Fletcher Prize, and the following year an account of Modernism won the International Book Award of the American Institute of Architects. In 1997 I was invited to write the first comprehensive account of the work of Jørn Utzon, architect of Sydney Opera House. Bruised by his rejection in Sydney, Utzon was famously reclusive and it took over two years to win him over, and a further three to research and write the book. It weighed in at 4.2kg and was described by one reviewer as ‘a labour of love’ and ‘possibly the finest architectural monograph ever produced.’
I maintained an interest in designing, entering occasional competitions and undertaking a few small commissions. My favourites, especially those in which I believe there is ‘unfinised business’, are illustrated on this website. And then everything changed. Walking through one of Cardiff’s many old arcades I spotted a beautiful ammonite in a shop window. Curious to know what a digital scanner might reveal, I bought the fossil and an Epson scanner worthy of it: the resulting details were stunning. Capturing what I later called ‘Data from Nature’ occupied most of my spare time for several years, leading to a range of ‘mineral scarves’ in Liberty of London; the transformation of my house and garden into a ‘laboratory’ for digital production; and the development of the ‘Molly’s World’ app for children – which, surprisingly, brings together the fascinations of a lifetime.