Roo Herud exported his local Zimbabwe talent to London (temporarily) to work with a London based Architectural Firm (Sidell Gibson Architect) to design a £38million mixed use building, just off London’s Famous Strand. The new Building sits behind a magnificent 100 year old retained façade neighbour to famous iconic buildings such as the Theatre Royal, Aldwych and Novello Theatres. We asked Roo a few questions about the project below:
Can you tell us a little about the building?
Certainly, it’s a 13 story building, the 100 year old façade was listed as a historical element but not the remainder of the building, which allowed us to demolish the entire rear portion behind the main façade. The front of the building is truly magnificent, an architectural beauty and well worth the listed title. The building behind was completely removed and built a-new. It’s a mixed use development, which to those that are not aware, is a combination of retail shops on the ground floor, commercial space in the upper 11 floors and 2 floors of residential flats on the top. Im led to believe the central flat that has views up and down The Kingsway has, apparently, been appraised at £7 million. Remarkable that a fifth of the building construction can be paid for by one of the 7 residential units.
How did you get involved with this Project?
Well, I was fortunate enough to be working on a 400 yearold Alms House in London at the time thatan Architect named Giles Downes was lead architect on. He was working with a developer in London that wanted to develop an existing building they owned with this Listed Facade. Giles and I worked well together, he’s a magical architect, and I was very fortunate that he asked me to work with him on this magnificent building.
How did you find working in London?
London is a remarkable city to visit and explore, its Architecture and history is breath-taking, so much perfection in detail, especially in the older architecture and cathedrals. The bureaucracy of London’s approval process,on the other hand, is remarkably tediousand very difficult to work with. We had specialists that would assist us in simply predicting the outcome of the city planner’s opinion to certain aspects we wanted to include in the design. We spent several months debating and negotiating the inclusion of an additional fire escape stair, of a slightly more modern nature than the front façade, which would be unseen by the public and only to be used in emergencies, but it took a long time and a lot of effort to have approved.
Will you be working in London again anytime soon?
Um, Well, I think I might focus my attention on Zimbabwe for the mean time. London was a remarkable experience and something I hope we can do again in years to come, however, our home is Zimbabwe.There is a lot that is dysfunctional here and I have a desire to assist in the rebuild of this wonderful country.There’s the potential for a great future for Zimbabwe and we are already involved in the reconstruction of some great moves to a greater perspective.
What are you currently working on?
Wow, some wonderful clients at the present moment, a spectacular set of lodges overlooking a waterfront property. We have 3 new housing projects all, interestingly, overlooking lakes. We’re finishing off a very large home just shy of 2000m2, it will be a monstrous achievement, an interesting project that really threw me out of my comfort zone in terms of expanding my ideals of design. Were soon to place the finishing touches to a very modern, crisp design on Kwekwe, lovely couple and wonderful clients.
What is your preferred style of Architecture?
As you’re well aware, I have a deep passion for residential architecture, I love the emotion that surrounds it. Every residential client that has a desire to build a home, does so from a deep desire to fulfil a need. In almost every circumstance, that individual or more often, that couple has an intrinsic desire infused with passion to dedicate their immediate future to creating that home. Residential architecture is much more than solving a problem, its creation in its purest form. Pure creation and inspiration can only come from deep emotions. As designers, we are entrusted with that very delicate substance and it’s our responsibility to be creators of the enrichment of the inhabitants to be. I am a residential junkie, although having said that, it’s more of a preference than an exclusion of the other disciplines. I do thoroughly enjoy all of the various genres, commercial, educational, retail and so forth I simply like residential more. We have been remarkably fortunate to have had some great successes in multiple disciplines.
What are your views on Sustainability?
Oh goodness, that is actually a more challenging question than you might realise. I think we are all at heart deeply desirous of the idea of sustainability. I truly love what we can achieve in the elements of sustainability and the progress we can make with it. There is no doubt the world would be a far greater place if we were all sustainable. Unfortunately we are faced with a rather large Paradox, we are told that in order to save our planet we must consume much less and be more responsible in that undertaking, which I personally feel is distinctly imperative to the success of humanity, However, on the other hand our economy is dependent on that very consumptive nature. In order for our economy to thrive we need to consume, hence the paradox. I unfortunately don’t have a solution but to answer your question, I am in favour of sustainability versus economics. Perhaps the answer is in a more intelligent consumption?
What Architects have inspired you in your career?
Well, I think the most obvious answer to that question is Frank Lloyd Wright. I must have told that to several people over the years as I seem to get a new Frankie book every birthday or Christmas. If any of you see this interview, I have enough of them now, thank you. I actually like the works created by Le Corbusier more than I like Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. I think the idea of what Wright achieved in his life and his mind is more appealing than his architecture, although, falling waters is fairly special.Miles Van De Rohes modern simplicity is spectacular, I don’t think there’s an architect alive that doesn’t like his stuff. We don’t know the Architect that designed the Giza Pyramid, but whoever that guy was, should know that he’s caused me sleepless nights with his incredible mathematical genius. I think he would be my favourite if we knew who he was.
What is Architecture to you?
That’s a fairly simple question given what we have already discussed. Architects must, however, remove their arrogance in defining architecture. We as designers are simply a conduit, an assistance mechanism to a greater outlook. In order to understand this we much broach the subject of creation and its process. In order to achieve the created there must be the thought or idea first, from that thought, through various steps and processes come manifest the idea, inspiration is created!
ie thought, then action, then momentum, then creation or manifestation.
Architects and Designers are simply here to assist in that process of manifestation, to interpret the ideas of society and our clients into a form of reality.
You don’t believe the Architect is the creator?
To a large extent he is a creator, certainly, but that’s where the arrogance is misguided. This is a service industry, Architects forget that the process is not achievable without the assistance of a great number of industries such as engineers, mechanical, product manufacturers but most importantly the client. The client was the one that had the initial idea, I’ve never had a client that has put oodles of money on the table and said build me something spectacular, I will see you next year, that doesn’t exist. No, in most cases the client has a very specific set of credentials that they would like to achieve, some are misguided, but most want to achieve a specific outcome, as I’ve said, we are simply to interpret and assist to create that idea. We are fortunate that we get to share in the creating process. We may be more in tune with the visual aspect of that creation and are thus attributed with a lot of the credit, perhaps that’s appropriate, but arrogance is not. We are here to serve.