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Designs for Life

Kevin McCloud, the man behind Grand Designs, has witnessed his fair share of design marvels and miseries...

"We thought John was mad at first, but now you look at it and think 'how could they ever have wanted to tear this down?'"

Design guru Kevin McCloud has long been interested in renovated buildings, with sustainably at the forefront of his mind.

A man with countless favourite buildings, "some that don't even exist anymore for whatever reason," McCloud cites some London landmarks as at the top of the list. "I recently visited King's Cross station, not the kind of thing you wanted to do ten years ago but now that they've taken down the front canopies from the 70’s and built a new extension to the site, it's a fabulous building." It's not the only station on McCloud's radar. "I used to live in Bedfordshire and would commute though St. Pancreas station. It was black and hideous and everyone wanted to demolish the station but John Betjeman campaigned to save it. We thought John was mad at first, but now you look at it and think 'how could they ever have wanted to tear this down?'"

For McCloud, our affinity with buildings, "is all to do with changing tastes." He might protest that, "I wouldn't know what a trend was if it hit me in the face!" but he understands the importance of upkeep regardless; "of whether we decide to look after our buildings. A building that has been polished up beautifully can be an inspiration."

McCloud has been in the presence of many a worn, majestic building, but his Grand Designs days have seen him witness some impressive new builds too. "I'm very fond of the little house designed on the Isle of Skye. We filmed in the summer of 2012 when it was raining just everywhere across the UK, except, for some reason, the Isle of Skye. I fell in love with the rural Isle and it's impossible to separate the direction of the film from the experience of making it and the people. It all rolls into one and it was a lovely, happy experience."

McCloud's Grand Designs Live, the four day event where "we've got rather amazing buildings, lots of building techniques to have a go at,

and amazing food being created in front of an audience." The event also features "a look at the technologies which are driving the future," and McCloud has instrumented an urban allotment. "We've got bee keepers and architects together in the same room!" A man invested in sustainability, Kevin McCloud has grown used to presenting both ends of the spectrum on Grand Design’s but he's confident that thatched roofs and solar panels can still exist side by side. "Right now there's a whole band of architects who are really trying to evolve a style of architecture which incorporates natural materials with the contemporary."


Top Image - The Reclaimed Flooring Company, one of Kevin McCloud's 2015 Green Heroes


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