Where do you call home today?
London, Spain and Fiji…for many years we lived and worked in Andalucía where the sunshine, beach life and rich culture inspired our resort design ethos but recently we´ve embraced London again with all its energy and creativity. And Fiji, well I left my heart there many years ago and love the warmth and freedom I´ve always felt there.
Where have you lived in the past?
All the above as well as Chicago where I worked for Hyatt and Honolulu Hawaii, learning my trade with WAT+G resort architects. I was born and raised though in rural East Yorkshire which gave me an honest straight talking approach to life and design.
How did you begin as an architect?
I began my studies at Edinburgh University but it was a working a year out in Fiji that gave me a lifelong love of resort design. I was the “boy architect” happily designing and building my first work…a crazy thatched island restaurant called “The wicked Walu”. After that I craved design challenges and innovation, so resumed my studies at the Architectural Association in London. It´s a great school that teaches you to dream big.
Tell us about your creative process
I have to spend a couple of days on site walking and thinking and I get a vision of how the project should feel and be laid out. I then begin with tiny, impossible to understand pencil or red pen sketches and diagrams that magically begin to form the image of the resort.
What are the things that inspire your work?
Travel, of course, experiencing new cultures and seeing their traditional architecture. But also, I love the creative dialogue with the client who trusts us with their vision; and I´ve always been inspired by talking to creative Hotel General Managers and F&B Directors to understand how guests relate to design.
You are the designer that resort clients go to. Why do you think that is so?
We know the resort business and with the many years of experience, we can quickly produce original concepts. We don´t have a “house style” or force architecture with a capital “A” on anybody. Each of our projects is different and crafted with great skill and enthusiasm. I think clients appreciate this honest commitment to what we do.
What do you enjoy about hotel design?
I love that we are creating dreams, not simple buildings and each new hotel is a great adventure with different sites, different countries and always a fun team to work.
What does meaningful architecture mean to you?
I like honest architecture with natural materials that blend into the nature of the site and capture the history of the host country. For me, meaningful resort architecture must create a narrative for the guests to discover and enjoy the destination and hopefully, learn a little more about their happy selves.
Describe your dream project
It would have to be our island project in Fiji…it is so simple, all in timber, not glitzy, but the site is just breathtaking with gin clear waters pristine reefs and lush jungle. You can only get there by boat, and so it seems untouched by modern life. There are too few places like that left in the world, and such escapes are the future of high-end tourism.
If you had to describe SHA in three words, what would they be?
Passionate, original and a touch quirky