It’s a Guinness-filled night and conversation turns Sherlock Holmes, stag dos and the lesser-known victims of the High Speed 2 rail line
The Jestico + Whiles team don’t need a lot of persuading to go for a drink - particularly if the venue happens to be the local virtually outside their door, the Exmouth Arms. However, a slight misunderstanding sees Building’s correspondent head straight to the pub instead of where he’s expected - their offices.
The Exmouth Arms really is something. It’s scruffy, friendly and authentic - a pub that seems to have changed little since the eighties though it is, of course, missing the one thing you would expect in such an environment - cigarette smoke.
They insist they are a gender-balanced office but couldn’t persuade any females to attend, which presumably reflects badly on all of us
The all-male party from Jestico + Whiles turns up soon enough, loudly insisting that they are a gender-balanced office but simply couldn’t persuade any females to attend, something which presumably reflects badly on all of us. All of them though are well known to the pub staff and get their initials on the heads of their pints of Guinness. They point out the pub cat that is wandering around and Heinz reveals proudly that the pub has won the Camden in Bloom competition for its hanging baskets, citingthis as evidence of its “anti-architecture” spirit.
But my inquiries about the bar food - traditional pub fare such as gammon steaks, jacket potatoes, fish & chips and the like is met with a pause. “It’s not known for its fine dining,” mumbles Heinz diplomatically.
But is the pub - and the practice’s offices across the street - endangered? Jude adds that the road outside, which runs down the south-western side of Euston station, and it’s adjacent buildings are set to be redeveloped because of the High Speed 2 rail line. This would force Jestico + Whiles to move on from the premises it has occupied since 1998, the former home of the British Rail property board. The Exmouth Arms and its architectural buddies in the way of the bulldozers? Clearly the Chilterns is not the only thing threatened by this mega project.
The High Speed 2 rail line could see Jestico + Whiles forced to move on from the premises it has occupied since 1997
Whatever the future holds, it is obvious that Jestico + Whiles staff are proud of their firm. Heinz explains that the practice is run as an employees benefit trust with famously non-hierarchical firm Make Architects seeking out its advice in its early days. Mike, meanwhile, tells me about the company’s weekly “practice half day”, or PHD, which involves team building tasks only loosely connected to work. Amazingly, these also seem to count towards CPD. The discussion turns from the daily grind to issues such as stag dos and the filming of TV series Sherlock in the nearby Speedy’s Cafe. As more pints arrive, your correspondent’s notes tail off and his powers of recollection begin to desert him. Must have been a good night.
Chosen watering hole: The Exmouth Arms, Camden
Ambience: Old man pub with bags of character … and a cat
Topics: Euston area, Sherlock Holmes, stag dos
Drinks drunk: Lager and too many pints of Guinness with our initials on top to remember
Who was there:
Jude Harris associate director
Dan Bryan-Harris senior architect
Heinz Richardson director
Mike Evans technical design manager
Chris Murfin senior architect
Gareth Roach architectural assistant
Will Hurst Building