Cycling, celeb spotting and steam engines are discussed over a few pints with Pitman Tozer Architects

Surrounded by the elegant stucco houses of W2, The Cow is part of Tom Conran’s restaurant chain. There’s an impressive smelling seafood menu (which Building does not sample) and some well poured Guinness (which it does). It’s a pleasant, wood-panelled London boozer with a touch of the French bistro about it. We’re here to meet Pitman Tozer Architects - a small practice that specialises in residential projects. And so, in typical Buys a Pint fashion, we forego the oysters, tuck into a few bags of crisps and get down to business.

Noting the subarctic weather, talk turns to work journeys. It seems most of the office cycle in. Luke reckons there’s as much chat there about bikes as architecture, partly due to Tim, who is quite the enthusiast. Does anyone not ride in?

Chris confesses to not having done so recently because his bike is in Devon where his dad is fixing it. Adrianna adds that she isn’t yet part of the cycle gang as she bought a bike but it was “just before the weather got really cold” so she hasn’t used it yet. Also, she was informed by the man at the bike shop that the brakes won’t work if it rains. Which seems like a major design flaw.

Recruiting staff has been a process of ‘slow and organic growth’, says Luke. ‘Like warts’ says Jonathan

At this point Jonathan, a straggler, turns up. Apparently he is the group’s ale buff and has, in the past, organised a work day out, catching an old steam train from Alton in Hampshire for a “real ale trip”. Was it a team building experience? “Yeah,” says Jonathan, “Team building and CPD.” How CPD, exactly?

After a long pause for thought, Luke intervenes on his behalf and points out that the old rail stations featured some beautiful architectural work for the gang to take in.
Victorian steam engines aside, they drink after work in several pubs in the area, but it’s The Cow where the best celeb spotting is to be had. What famous faces have they espied here?

Tim claims to have once seen Jamie Theakston. And apparently David Beckham has been in, although none of them were actually there that time. Luke starts a story about him and his wife having breakfast next to Dave Gilmour which leads the company on a surreal riff about the erstwhile Pink Floyd guitarist, until Luke clarifies that this particular encounter occurred at a local cafe.

Pitman Tozer Architects was formed by Tim and Luke 11 years ago, after they had studied, worked and, inevitably, gone on cycling trips together. For a few years they remained a two-man band before expanding to recruit what Tim refers to, perhaps unwisely, as their “offspring”. Are the younger staff like children to them? “Not quite that,” says Luke. “Let’s say, it’s been a slow and organic growth.”

“Like warts,” offers Jonathan, to a mix of amusement and disgust from his colleagues.

So - Pitman Tozer - one big happy family? Tim suddenly reveals that Chris is on a deadline and if he doesn’t hit it, he won’t be allowed to celebrate his 28th birthday this weekend. Building takes this to be in jest but the look of resignation in the poor fellow’s eyes suggest otherwise. Nikki then chimes in about one of her birthday celebrations whichwent on for a month - which, given Chris’ situation, seems a tad cruel. But so it is with families (even work ones).

As they order another drink, Building, always the interloper, wraps up warm to brave the freezing night outside, leaving them to discuss buildings, beer and bikes.

Chosen watering hole:

The Cow, Westbourne Park Road, London, W2 Topics discussed: Cycling, celeb spotting, steam engines Drinks drunk: six pints Guinness, six Sussex Best, three Becks, four glasses red wine

Who was there:

Chris Browne architectural assistant
Adrianna Carroll-Battaglino  office manager
Jonathan Crossley  architect
Nikki Cutler  architect
Tim Pitman  architect/director
Luke Tozer  architect/director
James Clegg sub-editor, Building