Tributes flood in for London School of Architecture tutor who died suddenly in Belsize Park earlier this month

FAT co-founder and London School of Architecture tutor Clive Sall has died at the age of 60.

Sall, who also taught architecture at the Royal College of Art for more than 25 years, is understood to have died suddenly in Belsize park on 15 February. 

FAT, which stands for Fashion Architecture Taste, was an influential practice during the 1990s and was known for its playful and rebellious take on architecture, installations, interiors and masterplans.

Schemes designed by the firm, which ended its practice in 2013, included The Blue House in Hackney, the BBC Drama production village in Cardiff for Igloo and at New Islington in Manchester for Urban Splash.

FAT co-founder Sean Griffiths said Sall had played a key role in the development of the practice’s fine arts activities, including the 1993 project Adsite, where works of art were displayed in bus shelter sites.

Clive Sall

Clive Sall died earlier this month at the age of 60

“He was an extremely energetic presence, forging relationships with other artists and leading a number of the practice’s early art events,” Griffiths said.

“It is not exactly uncommon knowledge amongst those who knew him, that Clive was something of controversial person, which led to an inevitable and irretrievable falling out with the practice and to his departure from it in 1998,” he added. 

“Despite this, on the news of his death, it is important to acknowledge the contribution he made to FAT in the 1990s.”

Sall went on to work at a string of firms including Burrell Chaudhuri Architects and design studio Pentagram.

He was a partner and director at Sall Cullinan and Buck Architects from 2005 to 2010, and from 2009 was a director at CarsonSall, a practice he set up with Iain Carson. 

Carson said: “Clive was an inspiration, supporter, and friend to so many of us,” adding that his “belief and genius was outstanding”.

“His ability to spin plates could have earned him membership to the Magic Circle!” Carson said. “To lose Clive as a close friend, companion and maverick is a truly tragic loss. There were so many things to do together in the years ahead, but now we must stop, reflect, look up and believe.”

Sall was also a seasoned and respected academic, having worked as director of second year at London School of Architecture (LSA), the school set up by former Building Design editor Will Hunter in 2015. 

He had also been head of second year at the Royal College of Art since 2012, and had taught at several other schools including the Bartlett, University of Greenwich, University of Westminster, the Architectural Association and Chelsea School of Art and Design.

IF_DO co-founder Thomas Bryans said Sall was a “wonderful man and will be very greatly missed”. “In the few marking sessions I had with Clive, I feel I learned more about being an effective teacher than I had at any other time,” he added.

Peter Buchanan, founding faculty at the LSA and author of The Big Rethink said Sall’s death was a “serious blow” to architectural education. 

“He was held in tremendous affection and esteem by the school community. Only the newly acquainted, dim-witted or otherwise deceived couldn’t see that his notorious bluntness masked a profound sweetness and generosity. What we have lost is not only a very good teacher, but a truly kind and wonderful human being. 

“Like all good critics, he was not there to tell you what was wrong, but to broaden your perspective, opening your eyes to all that you can add. He didn’t cut you down, he expanded you, with a rapid-fire of new ideas you could take or leave. Even when I didn’t agree, I admired his ability to split open problems and spill forth proposals immensely.

Buchanan added that it was striking how many students “spoke with such affection” about Sall, with many crediting his commitment to them for their success.

The LSA said in a statement that its board of trustees was saddened to hear of the death of Sall. ”On behalf of the London School of Architecture, its staff, faculty and students, we extend our deepest condolences to Clive’s family and his friends,” it said.