English Extremists

Louis Hellman sketch of CZWG founding partners, 1988
“The timing wasn’t brilliant, but the work load gradually grew”

Nicholas Campbell, Rex Wilkinson, Roger Zogolovitch and Piers Gough studied together at the Architectural Association in London between 1965 and 1971.

Nicholas, after completing his studies, founded Campbell Associates in 1972 often working with his future partners on residential refurbishment, extensions and shopfitting the new wave of London fashion boutiques. But his future partners remained freelancers until in 1975 they were persuaded by Roger Zogolovitch to form a ‘super group’ to take on their first sizeable commission – a major conversion for a top London auction house on the fringe of Notting Hill.

Campbell, Zogolovitch, Wilkinson and Gough took their first office in a sixth floor Edwardian dome with no lift on the edge of Covent Garden, but soon found a derelict four storey workshop in a Smithfield courtyard which they leased and half renovated with a bank loan, moving in with six staff in 1978, much of the space being let to a photographer. The timing, (the first of three recessions) wasn’t brilliant, but the workload gradually grew from a diet of small domestic conversions, and roughly split into two streams. One was partly fed by the appearance on the market of repossessed commercial buildings in Central London.

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    Mary Farrin Shopfront

    London 1968
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    Street-porter

    London 1987
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    Bankside Lofts

    London 1988
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    Phillips West

    London 1975

These were architecturally very appealing to a growing group of the avant garde...

...artists, designers, musicians, actors – who had seen, heard of, or otherwise desired a New York Loft in order to experience a different kind of city living and working - in vast, raw, sub-industrial spaces. The practice became founding architects of the loft ‘movement’, not only doing the architecture but finding suitable buildings and helping set up co-operatives to buy them, and fighting an outdated planning philosophy to get a change of use. They even pioneered the Design Studio use with Camden Council before the introduction of the generalized Business Use class in 1982. This was very much an interior architecture, but working with the spare but stylish palette of that turn-of-the-century transitional period of commercial buildings incubated their own ‘post decorative’ style. But much later in 1998 the first purpose-built new loft building emerged in Camden, in the very different style of the Glass Building.

The second stream also evolved from a change in attitude to living in the city. A new generation was shunning the suburbs and making for the centre where the Victorian terraced house dominated, but house builders were beginning to realize that an equally centrally located attractive modern alternative could be as desirable. Hence from small beginnings in Hackney, the firm embarked on a long involvement with the contemporary dwelling.

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Gorbals

Glasgow 2003

But it was also new dwellings in a new city...

The regeneration of London’s docklands, begun in 1980, moved the city’s centre eastwards and a different scale of brown-field site, often edged by the Thames, demanded a different architecture of dwelling. The practice rediscovered the multi-storey apartment building for private occupation and because of the sheer scale of sites, developed a skill for the relative positioning of building, the importance of streets and views – a skill vital to the reemerging art of ‘master planning’, and enabled them in 1990 to win a masterplan competition for the regeneration of a part of the Gorbals in Glasgow, which is even now considered by CABE to be the best example in the UK of its kind.

The regeneration of Docklands also liberated the warehouse for new uses, and with the firm’s experience of turning redundant commercial buildings into ‘lofts’ the two streams came together in one location – the emerging new heart of East London. At a now ‘mere’ twenty storeys ‘Cascades’ was its marker, but the architectural boundaries were most remarkably stretched at China Wharf – a bold red seven storeys half surrounded by the listed warehouses.

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Cascades, Isle of Dogs

London 1988
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China Wharf

London 1988
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Lutyens, Hayward Gallery

London 1982
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Summer Street, Clerkenwell

London 1993
“The firm had always had a relationship with the Art world, exhibition and gallery design"
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Time Out Offices

London 1978

The number of staff was growing fast and in 1986 the firm bought a redundant factory in Clerkenwell and redeveloped it in two stages to house a staff of seventy...

...the final move coinciding with an exhibition of their work in a bold installation at the RIBA Heinz Gallery in 1988 “English Extremists’’. The firm had always had a relationship with the Art world, and exhibition and gallery design was not new to them - Lutyens at the Hayward, Alfred Gilbert at the Royal Academy - but its capability in permanent gallery design had been recognized in its sadly unsuccessful inclusions in competitions for the National Gallery Sainsbury Wing and the National Gallery of Scotland. However, success followed in being commissioned in 1996 to remodel the galleries showing Victorian, Early 20th Century and Regency periods at the National Portrait Gallery. Also buildings for education began to feature at this time, the first for a Design and Technology building, tipping a hat to Norman Shaw at Bryanston and inventing a symbolic column which found itself being equally symbolic in the new office in Clerkenwell.

About this time, Roger Zogolovitch left the partnership to concentrate on development...

...and for a time became a client of the practice primarily in the design of new unconventional workspace buildings capitalizing on the firm’s experience with redundant commercial buildings and focusing on a small business design studio, developed in groups of all sizes, the sadly un-built Radio City project being the largest. And the new CZWG brand of the firm continued to do both conventional office and more experimental workspace for a range of developers and occupiers from Time Out magazine and Herbert the Liverpool hairdresser to the largest law firm in the North East of England and the Inland Revenue in Glasgow.

Boundaries were crossed with the largest live-work complex in London at Red Square in Hackney. In 1990 more architecture came from the commercial sector in the form of the first truly international project in the medieval city centre of Breda in the Netherlands, being a new shopping centre. This retail thread, started in the 1960’s with the ‘trendy boutique’, continues today with a remake of the centre of Barnsley, a Yorkshire former mining town, using an indoor market and shopping mall.

In 2006, the three original partners invited the firm’s associates to become partners...

...and formed a Limited Liability Partnership as part of a strategy of controlled expansion. The client base had broadened and diversified, projects were getting larger and society expected more and more demanding standards and controls over its architecture. Help could come from changing the shape of the firm and flattening the pyramid. The strategy has worked and today a staff of over sixty handles projects with construction values of up to £115m.

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VizioN7, part of the Arsenal Masterplan

London 2005
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    Fortune Green Road

    Hampstead, London 2010
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    Embassy Court

    St John’s Wood, London, 2009
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    Canada Water Library

    London Borough of Southwark 2011
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    Maggie's

    Nottingham 2011

Living in the city now encompasses affordable apartments next to Emirates Stadium, and-not-so affordable apartments in St John’s Wood, but today the more-affordable sub-urban city is included, with a new kind of mélange of houses and flats providing a new community in the parkland of Kidbrooke. Commerce now has a seaside leisure complex in Bournemouth and shopping in Islington, Barnsley and York to represent it, but mostly its presence is small-scale in mixed-use projects, reflecting the new push for integrated living-and-working neighbourhoods.

The Education stream continues in Brighton but has evolved and diversified into the community, in the form of a new dockside tube-connected place-making library in Southwark and into healthcare, in the form of a cancer-care Maggie's Centre in Nottingham. In fact, in forty-odd years in practice society’s emphasis seems to have shifted from architecture-making to the place-making that architecture makes possible. But they are one and the same, and always have been. They demand the same skills but adapted and augmented for the times we live in. The firm continues to evolve.

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