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RIAI Awards Honorary Fellowship to Architect Piers Gough
At an event in London on 13 February, Architect Piers Gough received an Honorary Fellowship from the RIAI. The presentation was made in the presence of RIAI President, Ciaran O’Connor; two Past Presidents of the RIAI, Carole Pollard and David Browne; Angela Brady OBE, Past President of the RIBA; and RIAI CEO Kathryn Meghen.
Speaking at the event, David Browne referred to “a mutual appreciation of the very fine architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens” by Ciaran O’Connor and Piers Goff: “Piers has been an advocate of Lutyen’s work for a long time and designed an exhibition of his work at the Hayward gallery in 1981-82. Ciaran, for his part, was instrumental in the restoration of Edwin Lutyens’ War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Dublin.”
'I first met Piers and his CZWG colleagues when we were joint winners of a competition for Newcastle 900 in 1980 which was about reimagining their marvellous 1000m long quayside. Derek Heavey, then my partner and still my partner, and I designed a nice formal residential scheme. However, Piers and CZWG’s scheme was wonderfully flamboyant - a beautiful 1 kilometre long Quayside roller coaster spelling out the word “Quayside” – a real harbinger of great things to come.”
David Browne also read a citation for Piers Gough:
Piers established CZWG with Nick Campbell, Rex Wilkinson and Roger Zogolovitch in 1975. He is one of Britain's leading architects, widely recognised as a writer and leader in the profession and always with unshakeable enthusiasm for uncompromising modern architecture. He has led the design of many of CZWG’s buildings over the years and also exhibitions on extraordinary architects such as Edwin Lutyens, John Soane and Giles Gilbert.
Words and thoughts such as optimism, positivity, colour, enlivening, brave, designed around people, never drab or background are what I think of when I think of Piers and his work. He has said "All architects have to be optimistic to survive," I am sure that he and CZWG, will go on building housing that in his words "has tended towards the flamboyant and heroic as a counter-balance to dreariness".
A few of the buildings that capture the world and work of Piers for me…..
China Wharf – a bright flash of red enlivening a dull stretch of the Thames in Bermondsey, a small building with big scale, at home with the surrounding old warehouses.
The Circle – For the first time for me in the late 80s, a building that simply made a street, something that had really not been done right for 60 years before then. Beautiful simple palette of stock bricks and balconies and bang in the middle - this vivid blue Circle. If you could get the traffic out, it would be one of London’s really unique places. Piers’ outstanding design for that site, so good, that in 2018 it was Grade II Listed by Historic England, as was China Wharf.
Canada Water – an ingenious and elegant way to fit a building onto a site that is simply not big enough for it and to create a generous building with intimate interiors and welcoming public realm right around it. Made of beautiful materials inside and out.
And I like the look of projects that are underway or things to come – projects like Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich, Oaklands in Old Oak Common and Free Wharf in Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex near Piers’ hometown of Brighton and Hove.
Another point Piers has made about our profession “Lots of people like to think architecture is about process. It isn’t – it’s about ideas. It’s not about how you do it, but how you dream, what you think of. …….. Architecture is about imagination; understanding how things are built, having a knowledge of construction and knowing what is sustainable”. I know that Piers has been and continues to be a real inspiration for the following generations of architects as, for me, he has been one of the pioneers in putting the person, the human, at the centre of his design and thinking about building, urban planning and placemaking and I consider that to be some great achievement.
As Neil Young might say, ‘Long may you run…..’