What happens when an anthropologist spends six months in an architect’s office?

Yarrow practice pic 1a

Durham academic Thomas Yarrow turns the spotlight on a profession more accustomed to doing the listening

What is it like to be an architect? My recent book set out to explore this deceptively simple question, focusing on the everyday doubts, deliberations and dilemmas that are central to the working life of practising architects.

My focus on these social interactions led me to consider others, such as, Where do ideas come from? What is creativity? How is it possible to live truthfully in a world of contradiction and compromise?

In an effort to answer these questions, I spent an extended period of time in an architectural practice of an ostensibly mundane kind: located on the top floor of an old woollen mill in the Cotswold market town of Stroud, Millar & Howard Workshop undertake a range of small and medium-sized projects including domestic new-builds, extensions and small commissions in the public sector. Though their approach is far from ordinary, their work involves them in the kinds of routine interactions that are ordinarily part of mainstream planning and commercial construction in the UK. A small place provided a window on to a much bigger vista.

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