Berrell Jensen GradDipl(AA) 1933-2015

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Berrell Jensen died on the 25th of July 2015 at Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland. Berrell was a South African-born metal sculptor, social worker and teacher. She graduated from the Architectural Association in 1984 with a GradDipl(AA) in Planning. 

Born in Potchefstroom in 1933, Berrell graduated from Natal University in Durban with a BSc in Social Science. She had a number of jobs including librarian, laboratory assistant in a paint factory and public relations officer for Lever Brothers. While her husband, Anton Jensen was completing his Masters, she began making metal mobiles for sale. Known for her practical aptitude, perhaps inspired from childhood days spent at her father’s garage and repair shop, she studied welding and was soon creating large sculptures and panels created out of copper, bronze, silver and enamels. She organized her first exhibition in 1960 in Durban, Natal.

In the next eight years Berrell had nineteen exhibitions, seven of these as a solo artist. Her work was spotted by architects and she completed fourteen large-scale public commissions including fountains. Her mural in copper and bronze for the Jan Smuts International Airport V.I.P. lounge measured eighteen by four metres.

Berrell’s inspirations included Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and Reg Butler. Of her creative technique she has written: “I have chosen to work directly in metal, perhaps as much for practical as for personal reasons. Oxy-acetylene welding (the welding torch is my basic tool) has great flexibility and with it I have made a great range of things from delicate jewellery to large outdoor sculpture. The result is durable and no further process such as costly casting is necessary. In any event, having acquired this technique I have proceeded to explore it as fully as possible. The metals bronze and copper have tremendous versatility as regards both form and surface treatment and their possibilities as sculptural materials are inexhaustible so I have used them predominantly. Lately I have found myself including the colder metal – brass. The technique and the metal act as a guide and give the character imposed by the limitations they have and I express my ideas and feelings within these limitations. My own integrity is at stake if I try to show results not related to the real characteristics of the metal and techniques I use.”

After the tragic death of her husband in a car accident in Greece in 1969, she lived in England, where she had six exhibitions and was interviewed for BBC and HTV television programs. In 1977, as part of an initiative to develop local industries, she was invited by Father McDyer to set up a craft centre in Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal, Ireland. This was in effect the start of a new career. In Belfast she was appointed Assistant Director of the Open Centre, an adult education centre funded by charitable trusts.  In London, while also studying at the Architectural Association for a Diploma in Planning, she set up the Highgate Newtown Community Centre. She then became Hampstead Community Centre’s Centre Director, a post she held for nine years. 

Berrell returned to Ireland in 1993, where she bought a 300-year-old Protestant church in Rochfortbridge, Co. Westmeath. She renovated the building, designating a large area as a metal studio. She began welding again, completing several commissions including for the Midland Health Board in Tullamore and the Tanyard Resource Centre in Offaly. The Dublin Corporation commissioned six metal screens, each 1.75 metres wide by 5.82 metres high for the entrance stairwells of the Marrowbone Lane Flats. This work she completed just prior to her first hip-replacement in 1996, at age 63. 

She was a fervent environmentalist and in 2001 organised a County Westmeath environmental group objecting to a controversial planning application for a landfill site in the Killucan area. Her knowledge of local wild life, peat bog and wetlands helped prevent the dump proceeding.

Berrell settled in Co. Cork in 2003, where she put her boundless energy into gardening. She will be much missed for her humour, enthusiasm, determination, patience and loyalty. Berrell is survived by her daughter Sandra, a writer, her son Michael, an IT and communications consultant, and by her three grandchildren, Oliver, Hugh, and Lucia.


Dr. Ian MacBurnie BArch GradDipl(AA) PhD 1955-2015

The architect, urban planner and professor Dr Ian MacBurnie died last Sunday 13 September, aged 60 years old.

Dr MacBurnie, who originally graduated from the AA in 1988 with a GradDipl(AA) in Housing & Urbanism also completed his PhD at the school in 1999 with his thesis The Periphery and the American Dream.

An AA Member for more than 25 years, MacBurnie was an associate professor in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, Toronto where he was instrumental in founding the gradute programme there.

Canadian publication The Globe and Mail published this obituary on 18 September.



Derek Brampton

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Derek Brampton, who died suddenly at his home in Kent on 31st August, will be remembered widely as London's best architectural bookseller.

Soon after starting the Triangle Bookshop in Kennington, London, he and Alan Young were persuaded by Alvin Boyarsky, legendary chairman of the AA from 1971 to his death in 1990, to re-locate to the newly refurbished basement of 36 Bedford Square. The business flourished as part of Boyarsky's vision of an alternative and dynamic Architectural Association. To enter Triangle's doors and browse the books was an essential part of time spent at the AA, made more pleasurable by Derek's informed intelligence, wit and great sympathy for the seeker of knowledge and inspiration. Most of the great names in architecture of this period would linger to chat and exchange gossip with Derek.

The shop closed in 2008 upon Derek and Alan's retirement. However those who knew Derek will remember him more for his great love of the arts, his early training and work in the London theatre, and his deep passion for painting to which he devoted most of his spare time, both at the easel and in visiting museums and exhibitions, always open to adventure.

His warmth, knowledge and spirit will be very much missed. He is survived by his husband and business partner Alan Young whom he met in 1969 and married last year

Image: Derek Brampton (right) with Alan Young in the Triangle Bookshop 2008. Photo by Valerie Bennett.


Jonathan Woolf DipArch RIBA 1961-2015

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The celebrated architect and former AA staff member Jonathan Woolf has died aged 54. In this obituary originally printed in Architects' Journal Jonathan Sergison remembers his colleague and friend, with a preface by former AA Councillor Brendan Woods.

'Jonathan Woolf who taught with Philippe Barthelemy at the AA in the 90’s has died at the age of 54. One of their unit's end of year show consisted entirely of models in birch ply sitting on a birch ply table that took up the entire centre of the room. They were one of the inspired pairings of Moshen Mostavi who enjoyed creating extraordinary teaching partnerships.' - BW

‘In the distinguished new English movement of “invisible architecture” Jonathan is the sharpest and most spirited one. He stands for what I understand as English sophistication.’

These words by Valerio Olgiati underline the importance and status Jonathan Woolf had for many architects in Europe. His death last weekend has robbed British architecture of a special talent and I am struggling to come to terms with what this means at many levels.

Jonathan was an original thinker who resisted conformity and easy categorisation. The projects and buildings he created are imbued with ideas and an artistry that cannot be replicated.

Above all, I feel the loss of a loyal, kind and generous friend I had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing for 25 years and with whom I shared journeys through life and architecture.

His approach to life involved limitless humour. What would seem commonplace, ordinary or trivial to many, could be retold by Jonathan in a way that was extremely funny, revealing the comic and sometimes farcical aspects of the human condition. Something of this outlook found its way into his architecture – but one would need to look carefully.

Jonathan was born in London in 1961 and grew up in Hampstead Garden Suburb. He undertook his formal architectural education at the Kingston School of Architecture, where he was taught by Brendan Woods, Werner Kreis and David Dunster, among others. In fact  Woods was so impressed with his degree portfolio that he instigated a prize for the best student, with Jonathan being the first recipient.

After working for Munkenbeck + Marshall among others, Jonathan opened his own architectural studio in 1991. He enjoyed early success, winning the Smithfield Market competition in Dublin (with Jonathan McDowell and Renato Benedetti) and an Italian furniture design competition.

Of the numerous projects he realised, many addressed questions of domesticity and notions of dwelling. Three projects stand out: the Brick Leaf House, Hampstead, 2003; the Painted House, Golders Green, 2009; and  The Lost Villa, Nairobi, Kenya, 2014.

The Brick Leaf house came to represent what was perceived by many in mainland Europe as a ‘London architecture’;  the Painted House is a radical remodelling of the English semi-detached house; and The Lost Villa is a plastic and topographic investigation constructed from local stone and intentionally suggesting timelessness; a sense that the house is an inhabited ruin. For these three great projects alone and their contribution to the discipline of architecture we should be grateful.

In addition to his work in practice, Jonathan was a gifted and inspirational teacher. Between 1995 and 1998 he taught at the Architectural Association with Philippe Barthélémy. In 2003 he was made professor of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, a position he held until 2007. Between 2007 and 2009 he was a guest professor at the Accademia di Mendrisio in Switzerland. More recently he taught at his former school in Kingston, which only a few weeks ago recognised his outstanding career as an educator and architect by awarding him an honorary doctorate.

Jonathan is survived by his wife Siobhan, two young daughters Olivia and Natalie, parents Ben and Josephine, sister Deborah, and by the many friends that have been touched by his exceptional personality."



Image: Brick Leaf House by Jonathan Woolf ArchitectsSource: Image by Helene Binet


Pilar Gonzalez-Herraiz Ling AADipl RIBA ARCUK 1957-2015

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The AA is saddened to hear of the death of architect Pilar Gonzalez Herraiz who passed away on 10 April 2015.

Pilar who graduated from the AA with a diploma in 1984, had a successful career as the co-director of Malaysia & Spain based practise Architron Design, which she set up with husband and fellow AA graduate Frank Lee-Huat Ling in 1994. A global lecturer, writer and academic, Gonzalez-Herraiz was an AA Member since 1996.




James Gowan ARIBA 1923-2015

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The AA is saddened to learn of the death of influential architect and teacher James Gowan, who died last friday aged 92.

Gowan, a Life Member of the AA and former AA Councillor, was a long time member of the academic staff at the AA, first teaching at the school in 1957.

His architectural career included early work with Lyons, Israel & Ellis, an infamous collaboration with fellow Scottih architect James Stirling from 1956-63 and later working independently on housing and hospital projects.

Tributes have been posted by publications including Building Design and Architects Journal. A full obituary will be featured here within the coming weeks.

All are invited to the funeral at West London Cemetery on Thursday 25th June at 2.15, as well as the reception afterwards at James' house 2 Linden Gardens W2.

Photo courtesy of AA Photo Library


Bruce Martin MA(Cantab) AADipl(Hons) FRIBA 1917-2015

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The Architect and Designer Bruce Martin passed away last month, aged 97.

Martin who graduated from the AA in 1946 with an AA Diploma with Honours was part of a team of post-war architects who designed pre-fabricated schools in Hertfordshire which included Mary Crowley, A.R. Garrod, W.D. Lacey, David Medd, Oliver Carey, Anthony Cox and WA Henderson.

He also designed the iconic 1968 K8 Telephone box, picture, of which 11,000 were installed across the country and 54 remain.

An oral history of Martin and his time at the AA was recorded in a conversation with Ed Bottoms (AA Archive) and Paffard Keating Clay (AA Dipl 1949) for the AAir radio station in 2009 - listen here radio.aaschool.ac.uk/thinking-about-a-new-world/

Martin is survived by his children Susan and Jonathan.

The Guardian Obituary


Architect's Journal Obituary


Photograph: Dominik Gigler


Dalibor Vesely DipArch DipEng MA MPhil 1934-2015

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It is with great sadness that the Architectural Association report that the Czech architectural educator Dalibor Vesely died of heart attack yesterday on 31st March 2015.

A member of staff at the AA for many years, Vesely ran a Diploma Unit from 1973-83 and was a Complimentary studies Course tutor from 2003-9. He also served as an AA Councillor from 1984-7, and in 2013 was awarded Honorary Membership of the AA.

A full obituary will follow within coming weeks.

Image Credits: Dalibor Vesely at the AA Honorary Members Evening March 2013 by Valerie Bennett.


Frei Otto HonAADipl 1925 - 2015

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In this memorial, Richard Burton CBE of ABK remembers the architect and engineer Frei Otto and their collaborative work in what is now the AA’s Hooke Park campus in Dorset.

Otto, who died earlier this month aged 89, had recently been awarded the Pritzker Prize and was world renowned for his tensile & membrane structures, especially the 1972 Munch Olympic Stadium. He was awarded an Honorary AA Diploma in 2003 and became an Honorary AA Member in 2011.

"The AA owns the only two permanent examples of Frei Otto’s work in the UK: the workshop and the prototype house (now used as a refectory) at Hooke Park. These were designed by Frei, his daughter architect Christina, Ted Happold, Michael Dickson and myself at ABK. The prototype house was built by Bill Moorwood of ABK in one of the wettest summers in 1986. The campus now run by the AA carries on the ethos of Frei’s work by running the 16 month Design & Make course in which students design and then build their designs.

When I started working with Frei on Hooke Park he sent the team a hand drawn report on how to build with thinnings (young saplings that are removed to let the main tress grow well). This knowledge was gleamed partly from Frei’s first professor in Berlin, whose experience was in the use of the thinnings in 1945, and partly from Frie’s ability to match his highly imaginative approach to design with a practical application of detail.

As the designs for Hooke progressed, the jointing up of thinnings became a key subject which Frei and Ted Happold argued and discussed over 6 weeks. The options were either a bound joint, Frei’s preference which was tested with 75% transmission of forces, and an epoxy joint which Ted had designed and tested with 90% transmission. The choice was finally settled following a good dinner between the three of us, at which it was agreed to use the epoxy joint. This was formed by making a conical hole in the circular end of the thinning and filling it with epoxy into which metal fixing were cast. This both high-tech and low-tech solution liberated the huge potential in the use of thinnings at a very low cost, and now that we have had it under use for nearly thirty years, we know it works.

I see this story as an example of Frei’s ability to collaborate with others, and especially with that superb engineer Ted Happold who he worked with on many of his buildings, particularly in the Middle East. But also his willingness to support high tech solutions, and to use materials to their maximum potential, a principle he learned as a prisoner of war at 19 years old, when he was in charge of buildings in a vast POW camp in France.

The designs for Hooke Park vitally depended on the use of models, an essential in the process of design according to Frei, all of which are now preserved at Frei’s exhibition of models in Karlsruhe.

Frei was a practical designer with a vigorous imagination and a fine aesthetic sense. A genius who collaborated with other designers. Working with him was for me one of the best collaborations in my professional life and led onto a friendship I will miss.

It is fitting that the AA should now be a custodian of his work here in the UK."

Image: Protype House with (l-r) Richard Burton, John Makepeace and Frei Otto. Courtesy of the AA Photo Library


Dr Ranulph Glanville PhD AADipl 1946-2014

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The AA is sad to report that AA student and teacher Professor Ranulph Glanville died of cancer on the 20th December 2014. This obituary was written by AA Head of Computing, Julia Frazer who was his student in her first year at the AA in 1972.

Ranulph was an architect, cybernetician, design researcher, theorist, educator, prolific writer, musician, artist, chef and bon viveur – that is until the end of the 80s when he had to stop drinking. His formidable intellect and breadth of knowledge were legendary. He was a deeply serious intellectual who also knew how to play the fool. His musical compositions were taken sufficiently seriously to be played by Olivier Messiaen and known to Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. He was also extremely knowledgeable about certain aspects of Architecture and for example he gave radio talks for the Open University on Alvar Aalto  (Ranulph typically learned to speak Finnish) and he wrote a seminal essay about Aalto for the Makers of Modern Culture.

He was born in 1946 of Anglo-Irish descent and enjoyed a liberal Froebel Kindergarten, then Bryanston School and the Architectural Association (1964-1971) where his contemporaries included Leon van Schaik, Grahame Shane, Stephen Gage, Robin Evans, Dick Bunt, Oliver Freeman and John Frazer. He went on to be awarded two PhDs by Brunel University first in Cybernetics 1975 and then Human Learning 1987. Brunel awarded him the highest degree of DSc in Cybernetics and Design 2006.

His most important contribution was in cybernetics and in particular to bringing a unique form of architectural thinking to the development of what is known as second order cybernetics where the observer is fully involved in the system feedback loop – a very AA way of thinking. He played a very significant role in this notoriously arcane field being a close associate of key figures like Heinz von Foerster and Gordon Pask. Ranulph triumphed as President of the American Society for Cybernetics from 2008-2014 and he was the first European to be elected to this prestigious position.

His other International posts and professorships were extensive and included: First year AA unit master from 1971 to 78, lecturer at Portsmouth Polytechnic 1978 to 96. He was appointed Professor of Research in Innovation Design Engineering at the RCA and later as Professor of Research Design at LUCA in Belgium.

On a personal note Ranulph was an inspirational teacher who eased me in my first year at the AA from my first degree in Mathematics into the world of architecture forming a bridge for me through our shared love of music and art. We also shared a love for fine wine and we would bid together at Sotheby’s. What a wonderful introduction for a student! Ranulph became a close friend and was best man at my wedding to John. He visited us in Ireland and went on to teach for John in Hong Kong and Australia. He visited us to say goodbye just two weeks before his death and was still talking enthusiastically and animatedly about the world of ideas.

He leaves his partner Aartje Hulstein and son Severi from his marriage to his first wife Tuulikki Leskinen. He also leaves a massive legacy of papers in the domains of architecture and cybernetics and many very loyal and grateful students and friends.

Image: Ranulph (left) with Leon Van Schaik, courtesy of AA Photolibrary

Note from the Archives: Ranulph's archive of papers has been donated to the University of Vienna, where they will sit alongside those of both Gordon Pask and Heinz von Foerster. The AA Archives, have been permitted to scan and make available on its online catalogue Ranulph's architectural drawings and material created whilst studying and teaching at the AA. These are expected to be available online later in 2015


Anthony Harrison AADipl(Hons) RIBA 1938 - 2013

The AA is saddened to hear of the death of architect Anthony Harrison who passed away in November 2013.

An AA Diploma Honours student who graduated in 1962, Harrison worked extensively in Africa following his graduation in the countries of Nigeria, Tunisia and Uganda. He returned to the UK in 1974, where he set up his own practise, Harrison Sutton Partnership in Totnes, Devon.

A full obituary was published in the Guardian in December 2013.



Tyler Jonathan Martiné AA MArch 1978-2014

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The family of the architect, Tyler Jonathan Martiné, who passed away in May this year wished to forward on the following message to the AA community, in celebration of his life.

"Born in Chicago, Illinois to Thomas Richard Martiné and Kathie Jean Bolin, Tyler was the beloved husband of Jennifer and father of Quentin Carter Martiné. Tyler was a successful architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and previously with WRNS Studio, designing commercial and residential buildings locally and internationally.

He achieved his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Kansas, and attained his Masters degree at the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture in the AADRL programme, graduating in 2005. Tyler was a member of the American Institute of Architects. He had a passion for golf, enjoyed camping, traveling, and preparing and enjoying terrific food with his wife Jennifer. He also loved spending time with his 3 year old son Quentin, reading books and playing ball."

A memorial service for Tyler was held in Almada, California on May 17.

Donations may be sent to the Tyler Martiné Memorial Fund, Account Number 191275620101, C/O Bank of Marin, 2130 Otis Drive, Alameda, CA 94501.

Online condolences may be offered at



Alfred Wells GradDiplTrop(AA) PlanDipl(AA) 1916-2014

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The following obituary was written by the family of the deceased diplomat and architect Alfred Wells to be shared with AA community.

"Alfred Wells, born in White Plains, NY, always wanted to become an architect but thought that law and diplomacy were more proper careers.  It wasn’t until 1966, when he retired after 25 years in the US Foreign Service, that he began his lifelong career dream and graduated in 1970 from The Architectural Association (AA) with two degrees in tropical architecture and in urban planning. He went on to work on several continents over the next thirty years.

While studying law at Yale in the 1930s, Wells treasured his classes about architecture and kept detailed notes. He entered the Foreign Service in 1941 and served in Buenos Aires, Colombo, Paris, Rangoon, Vienna, Bremen, Bonn and London. In Rangoon, he lived in a houseboat that he himself built. When in Vienna, he built a small wooden house for his daughter Gully and then had the whole structure dismantled, shipped to Mt. Riga, near Salisbury, Connecticut, and rebuilt for her. Wherever he went, he took dozens of photos of churches, façades, pagodas, statues and other beauties of architecture. In his last post, at the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square in London, he served as executive assistant to Ambassador David Bruce. During that period Wells, picking up information at cocktails, warned the ambassador about the Profumo affair before it became public. 

When in Paris in 1949, he married Dee Wells, who later became author of bestseller novel “Jane.” In 1960, he subsequently married Melissa Wells, who served as ambassador to several African countries and Estonia. He would go on to do architectural work in several of the countries where she was posted.

Upon retirement in 1966, Wells began studying at The AA in London. He was 50 years old, in class with much younger colleagues who had very strong opinions about the war in Vietnam. At one point, his friends convinced him to go to a protest in front of the US Embassy, where his wife was working that day, but he quietly slipped out while the students clashed with the police.

The first structure that he built, as an AA student, was a wooden cube to serve as a vacation home for the family in Carriacou, an island belonging to Grenada. He tested the structure by asking his AA student friends to help set up the cube in Brompton Square, much to the puzzlement of the neighbors. The cube was permanently built in Carriacou, survived several hurricanes but was blown away by US Marines in 1983 when they invaded the island.  The Department of Defense reimbursed Wells for the lost cube, in probably the only such case for an AA project.

In 1969, he published his first work on architecture in the AA Quarterly, about low-cost housing in Casablanca. Upon moving to Washington, DC, in 1971 he worked for Doxiadis Associates (2 years), John Portman Associates (3 years) and for Habitat in Haiti. In 1978, he was a senior planner in the New York City Economic Development Administration. From 1980 to 1981, Wells worked as a consultant to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on housing for UN employees in the poorest countries of Africa and Asia, where rent can be high and quality housing scarce. In 1989, he did a study for the Mozambican government to determine the correct value for compensating owners of traditional caniço homes in Maputo, as part of projects in the capital. In 2001, at the age of 85 and with free time on his hands as Melissa served as ambassador to Estonia, he wrote a guide on the many manor houses that litter that lovely country. The guide is one of the most popular tourist books about Estonia and is available on Amazon.com.   

He applied his skills to motor vehicles as well. In 1968, he adapted a VW Kombi so that the family of four could sleep in it and cook. The family would often sleep on the weekends in the fields of England and France, and cook their own breakfast. They also took the Kombi to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In 1981, he adapted a Toyota Hilux to the same effect, so that the family could move overland from the posting in Nairobi to Geneva, via the Sudan and Egypt.  The two-month trip through the Sudan was the best trip the family has ever taken.

In the seventies, he built a spacious two-story treehouse in Mt. Riga, Connecticut and a proper vacation house in Carriacou, both of which survived hurricanes without need of repair. In the eighties, he refurbished a 200-year-old manor house, La Tour, in Cessy, France, just outside of Geneva. The former owner of La Tour sold it to the Wellses under the condition that they would not change the outside aspects of the property. Starting in 1969 all the way until 2005, he constantly worked on a home in the small town of Agulo, on the island of La Gomera, in the Canaries, where the couple would live after Melissa retired. Alfred and Melissa were the first couple in the US diplomatic corps who both exercised full diplomatic careers.

Wells is survived by Melissa, who lives in Agulo, and their sons Christopher and Gregory, and his daughter Gully."


Amarjit Kalsi AADipl(Hons) RIBA ARB FRSA 1957-2014

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The following obituary was written by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners and has been forwarded onto the AA Community by the family of Amarjit Kalsi:

"Architect and longstanding director at Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners (RSHP) who played an influential role in Lloyd’s of London, the Millennium Dome and Heathrow Terminal 5.

Amarjit Kalsi, known as Amo to friends and colleagues, was an architect who enjoyed a distinguished 33-year career working with Richard Rogers. A rare talent, he became a director at Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) in 1988 at the young age of 30, stepping down in 2011 to become a Senior Consultant.

Born in May 1957 in Nairobi, Kenya, Amo’s family moved to Britain when he was still a young boy, settling first in Forest Gate, East London and then later moving West across the capital. Amo attended the local State school in Plaistow where he demonstrated great passion and skill for technical drawing, a talent that singled him out amongst his peers and led to his enrolment at The Architectural Association (AA) in 1975. Having completed his Part 1 studies a year early, Amo’s exquisite drawing style caught the eye during a work placement at RRP under the guidance of Frank Peacock and John Young in the late 1970s, and having returned to his studies at The AA, he qualified with an AA Diploma (with Honours) in 1981 and was offered a full-time role.

Over the course of more than three decades, Amo worked with Rogers and other key members of the practice on some of its most prestigious projects including the now Grade I listed Lloyd’s of London building in The City, the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg and the Stirling Prize-winning Barajas Airport in Madrid. At RRP, which became Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in 2007, Amo inspired awe and respect in generations of young architects, including current Partners Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour, proving to be an inspirational mentor who led by example and stirred the imagination of others. His guidance and creative mind will be forever evident at Heathrow Terminal 5 where his encouragement was not just restricted to his own practice but extended to every architect and engineer participating in the project.

He struck up a particularly successful partnership with desk-mate Ivan Harbour that would last some 27 years, together developing a lyrical architectural shorthand that has left its mark on cities across the Europe from London to Monte Carlo and Strasbourg to Bordeaux. Other notable projects included a series of bus shelters and street furniture for Adshel and Cemusa, and a design for a lighting system for the Italian company Reggiani. His most recent work included taking charge of two new subway stations in Naples, Italy: Capodichino at Naples Airport and Santa Maria Del Pianto, both designed as major transport hubs.

Aloof and confident, Amo possessed all the qualities of a great architect including the all important ‘magic touch’. His draughtsmanship was extraordinary, elevating technical drawing to an artform despite an unconventional habit of using only one thickness of ‘Rotring’ pen, which he argued lent clarity and simplicity to the representation. The result was always a thing of beauty that evoked feeling and imbued meaning as much as it informed. A man of few but always poignant words, Amo had the ability to express the spirit of a building in a single sketch or drawing and even his signature, calligraphic and showman-like, encapsulated this coolness and command of architectural language and detail. His persistence with pen and parallel motion despite the rise and rise of computer-aided design has ensured a unique legacy of drawings as artworks that stand as testament to his enigmatic intellect and personality.

A romantic idealist at heart, Amo ‘the constant’ was never phased by the inevitable ups and downs of large scale architectural projects and his singular spirit, marked by an infectious enthusiasm for his work, permeated the studio. Unflappable, he always had a wry observation or commentary on the process, and was uniquely capable of offering both constructive critique and ingenious solutions to problems met along the way. As this reputation grew, Amo’s career saw him appointed as a judge for the 1998 RIBA Awards as jury chairman for the North and Yorkshire regions, and from the late 1990s onwards he appeared as a guest speaker at various events including the RIBA Architecture and Built Environment Lecture in Sheffield in 2008, the Corus Lecture in Liverpool in 2008 and annually at Pennsylvania University in the US.

Affable and fond of fine dining, Amo ‘the food snob’ was the one to ensure everyone enjoyed the very best Choucroute and Confit de Canard on work trips abroad. Back at base in London, the same foodie tendencies led him to determine where the practice ate out; be it the Haweli, the Lahori Karahi or elsewhere, there was only ever one restaurant of the moment good enough to be patronised by Amo and his dutiful followers.

Outside of his work, he was a keen supporter of the Indian Gymkhana cricket and football club in Osterley, West London, and always talked fondly and enthusiastically about his family. He is survived by his wife, Gurjeet, who he married in 1982, and by their four daughters.

Amarjit Kalsi, architect, was born on 30 May 1957. He died on 26 August 2014, aged 57."

Image: Amarjit Kalsi at work in the RSHP office.


Sir Philip Dowson CBE PRA RIBA 1924-2014

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The relatives of Sir Philip Dowson, a former student of the AA and Member since 1949, have contacted the Architectural Association with the following obituary, which they wished be forwarded onto the AA community:

"It is with deep regret that the family announce the death of Sir Philip Dowson CBE PRA RIBA in the early hours of August 22, 2014.

Sir Philip Dowson was one of Britain’s most important architects. Educated at Gresham's School, Norfolk, he spent a year reading mathematics at University College, Oxford, before joining the Royal Navy during the Second World War and serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. He returned to study Art History at Clare College, Cambridge, from 1947 to 1950, and then trained at the Architectural Association.

He joined the engineering firm Ove Arup and Partners in 1953 as an architect and in 1963, with Ove Arup, Ronald Hobbs and Derek Sugden, became a founding partner and later chief architect of Arup Associates. Composed of an innovative and collaborative team of influential architects, engineers and quantity surveyors, Arup Associates' approach to design was rational, scientific, and based on a belief that the function of a building, the nature of the materials used and the necessary methods of construction should form the basis of design.

Among numerous awards and honours, Sir Philip Dowson was made a CBE in 1969, and received a Knighthood in 1980. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1979 and two years later was awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. He was President of the Royal Academy of Arts from 1993 to 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Lady Sarah Dowson MBE, his son, two daughters, and six grandchildren. The funeral is to be private, and a memorial service will be announced at a future date."

Former AA President Sir Michael Hopkins has also written this obituary, Remembering Sir Philip Dowson PRA, for the Royal Academy

Sir Philip's achievements are also featured in the following articles:

Forbes Mellon Library, Clare College, Cambridge

RIBA Gold Medal

Telegraph feature on 50 Years of Arup Associates

Sir Philip Dowson on Radio 4's Last Word (available til September 2015)






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