Summer Street, ClerkenwellLondon 1993
Nicholas Campbell, Rex Wilkinson, Roger Zogolovitch and Piers Gough studied together at the Architectural Association in London between 1965 and 1971.
Nicholas 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 formed 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. CZWG took their first office in a sixth floor Edwardian dome 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.
Workload gradually grew from a diet of small domestic conversions and was fed in part by the appearance on the market of repossessed commercial buildings in Central London.
These were architecturally very appealing to a growing group of the avant garde—
artists, designers, musicians and 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.
Mary Farrin ShopfrontLondon 1968
Phillips WestLondon 1975
Bankside LoftsLondon 1988
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doing the architecture but finding suitable buildings and helping set up co-operatives to buy them, and fighting an outdated planning philosophy to get a change of use.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. Much later in 2000, CZWG’s Glass Building, in a very different style, was the first purpose-built new loft building to emerge in Camden.
A second stream of work 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 while 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.
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’.
The regeneration of Docklands 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 on the Isle of Dogs 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.
The number of staff in the practice was growing fast and in 1986 CZWG bought a redundant factory in Clerkenwell and redeveloped it in two stages to house a staff of seventy. The move coincided with an exhibition of their work in a bold installation at the RIBA Heinz Gallery in 1988 —‘English Extremists’.
The practice has 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— and their 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.
English ExtremistsLouis Hellman sketch of CZWG founding partners, 1988
Cascades, Isle of DogsLondon 1988
China WharfLondon 1988
Lutyens, Hayward GalleryLondon 1982
Red SquareHackney, London 2001
Time Out OfficesLondon 1978
Buildings for education began to feature, 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 CZWG’s 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 practice’s experience with redundant commercial buildings and focusing on a small business design studio, developed in groups of all sizes.
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 1997, CZWG’s first truly international project was a shopping centre in the medieval city centre of Breda in the Netherlands.
VizioN7, part of the Arsenal MasterplanLondon 2005
Embassy CourtSt John’s Wood, London, 2009
Canada Water LibraryLondon Borough of Southwark 2011
Fortune Green RoadHampstead, London 2010
In 2006, the firm’s associates were invited 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.
Living in London 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. CZWG’s education work stream 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 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 practice continues to evolve.