Paul enjoys stitching places together to provide spaces that best facilitate people’s evolving needs. As a masterplanner, he can’t predict the future, but he can design spaces that inspire people.
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
The project that’s been giving me a buzz lately is developing our own Place studio. As a multi-disciplinary practice, we have an amazing range of people with skills and enthusiasm for place shaping. Place is a way of bringing this together to create a culture that combines urban design, landscape design, town planning and architecture. We’ve been doing this on projects for years, but now the emphasis is on our own people and the lessons we learned from our Shaping Future Places symposium in Bournville.
What is the best building in your city?
Bristol has a great variety of interesting architecture, but for me what makes it special is its diversity. I’m lucky to come over the Cumberland Basin every morning, watching the city’s western skyline come into view. The Clifton Suspension Bridge and the layering up of all the houses in Hotwells and Cliftonwood, set behind the Harbourside and the Bond warehouses, makes for a pretty special welcome.
Who is your biggest career influence?
I realise this sounds really cheesy, and certainly sounds like I’m fishing for a pay rise, but I feel my biggest career influence has been the opportunities presented to me by Stride Treglown. I’ve been here for about 10 years and in that time I’ve evolved from being an architect detailing partitions and ceilings to an urban designer creating places that affect the lives of large numbers of people.
This has stemmed in part from being in the right place at the right time, but also because of the wide range of specialisms within the practice that I’ve been able to lean on to feed into my design thoughts. It’s been quite a journey. Did someone mention a pay rise…?
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
If the greatest number of times I’ve read a book is an indicator of the best book I’ve read, then for me that’s either ‘Monsters Love Underpants’ or ‘Aliens in Underpants Save the World’, but I suppose that really says more about my son rather than me.
I’m reading an interesting book at the moment called ‘Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream’ by Matthew Christopher, which explores derelict buildings and places that have been left to decay. It explores how these places came about in the first place and the circumstances that led to them being abandoned. It’s fascinating, and really interesting in understanding how big grand projects can slowly return to nature when they lose their purpose in an ever changing world.
Interesting fact that nobody knows about you?
I have travelled to over 30 countries across six continents without a gap year. Unfortunately that only amounts to about 15% of the world’s countries, meaning I’ve still some way to go.