After over 15 years experience of working in practices around the UK, I have come back to where it all began to start the next phase of Francis Garner as an architect: Francis Garner Architects.
The steps taken over the years recall the first days and weeks in various Architects’ offices, arriving too early on day one, the smell of the new place and a stillness that quickly disappears once the flow of staff swipe through the door. The receptionist arrives and finds a stranger in her Monday morning space. The new shoes which seemed like a good idea now burned with blisters after the dash across London via various tube lines.
One first day that sticks in the memory is a director being the early bird of other partners guided me to my workspace piled high all around with stacks of consultant drawings. Unbeknown to me it was the director on the floor above who found out a couple of weeks later that his new team member had been press ganged in reception to a team for the ministry of defence projects. Moving upstairs eventually to the team I was intended, for an office block on site which required an accelerated programme of drawing output, was a lesson in production information for a prestigious city project.
Each previous position taken always to improve on the gaps in experience or perceived shortcomings, created a need to prove myself and put out work that was good enough to stack up next to my new peers. The sometimes daunting peers became friends and collaborators on future projects and competitions, as we stepped into shared experiences of shaping our built environment. This sharing informed the way I approached designing, how not to hold too tightly to an idea and to try a new way.
So in my first days, I am on the next step of the journey, and having stood with my peers and friends along the way in both shared vulnerability and the joy of design, I am right now in a beautiful studio space looking over the Mersey working on some details for a drawing to talk through with a client this evening over a glass of wine, what a great way to start the weekend.