For this week’s pint we are in the heart of trendy Hoxton in east London, the raw version of architect’s ghetto Clerkenwell, which lies just to the west.
Apparently Anshen + Allen are just around the corner and Foreign Office Architects, Grimshaw and Zaha Hadid are down the road. Even the daddy of modern urban living, Richard Rogers, has a presence here. “His son lives just around the corner, in a sort of modern insertion,” says Matthew. “It’s a bit out of proportion. I don’t know if he designed it …”
A few years ago Hoxton was the preserve of derelict buildings and people clutching cans of special brew. In fact, it was so dodgy that the RMJM crew avoided the pub we are sitting in, despite the fact it was smack bang opposite their office. “It used to be a typical working man’s pub with frosted glass and greyhound racing on the telly,” says Matthew. “You wouldn’t have dared go in.”
How things have changed. Now it is an übertrendy gastro pub filled with architects wearing black. All of them.
“We’ve all been to a funeral today,” jokes Matthew. What is it with architects and black? “You can answer this one Charles as you have an all black wardrobe,” says Matthew. “I do have a few bright colours,” counters Charles.
“I think there is a mystique to black,” says Matthew, by way of explanation. “In the evening we like to blend in with the general ambience of London,” he adds, more cryptically.
They all have watches with black faces too – apart from Charles, who has three mobile phones instead.
Debbie’s watch is a great example of style over function. “I can’t work out how to change the time, so its right for only six months of the year,” she says.
Of course, function has a place too – after all, these are architects. Matthew uses his Lotus as an example, which he promised himself he would get if the firm won a particular job. “They are so pure and functional,” he says. “There’s no power steering or anti-lock braking system. It’s a pure experience – and lovely to drive.”
Charles has picked an even more unusual vehicle – he has switched from a handbuilt Harley Davidson chopper to a farm vehicle. “I was in love with bikes until I discovered Land Rovers,” he says. “They are so honest. They’re nothing to do with style – it’s all about function.”
We recall that this conversation about cars was a tangent off a discussion about travelling around the world. Charles, however, says this is no longer necessary. “A job with RMJM is like a trip round the world in a Land Rover,” he says. Perhaps he meant to say Lotus.
Chosen watering hole: The Princess, Paul Street
Ambience: Standard issue gastropub
Topics: Trendy London, black clothes, style over function and function over style
Drinks drunk: 5 pints of lager, 3 pints of bitter, 3 glasses of white wine, 3 pints of wheat beer and 5 gin and tonics
Matt Cartwright director
Charles Phu associate
Fang Cheah designer
Debbie Inglis architectural assistant
Thomas Lane Building