Introducing Hugh

Here at Nicholas Jacob Architects, we are lucky to work with some talented individuals who make our team truly great. In a series of blog posts we have set about introducing you to some of them and discovering more about their inspirations and aspirations. Next on the list is Hugh Bunbury.

Why did you want to become an architect?

I suppose you would say that I am of the Meccano generation and even as a child I was always absorbed in building something.

What’s your educational background?

I chose Oxford Polytechnic for my architectural studies and as part of that I had a “year out” job in the Architects’ department at Buckinghamshire County Council – a concrete tower block in Aylesbury. The salary was £3,000 a year which I thought very good. Soon after I qualified I spotted a vacancy at the Suffolk office of Peter Cleverly, whose work exactly fitted my aspirations.

What was the first project you worked on?

My first built project was on the family home and involved re-ordering the garden entrance. That was about 40 years ago and the house has changed hands twice without my alterations being removed – so it must have been a good solution.

What buildings around the world most inspire you?

Any large scale Classical edifice makes me stand and stare, and I particularly admire the Doric order.

Also, many buildings give off a ‘vibe’ of centuries of use. I like a building that offers something for the eye at all distances and draws one in to the detail too. That can be said for modern architecture as much as historic.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on over the years?

I enjoyed the work of refurbishment that we did at The Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds a few years ago. It was a complex building, both spatially and historically, and there was a strict timescale so lots of pressure.

What do you think is the best piece of architecture in Suffolk?

I’ve lived in Suffolk all my life but have probably not seen half of it yet. For drama in the landscape Blythburgh Church is quite something. So is Sizewell A.

Are there any other architects whose work particularly inspires you? Who and why?

I’d like to spend more time studying the Arts and Crafts era of Voysey, Mackintosh and Baillie Scott. They were so modern but grasped the psyche of the ideal home.

What kind of projects excite you the most and why?

The ‘behind the scenes’ areas of large buildings can be fascinating. I remember, early in my career, being sent to record the rainwater system of a large country house which sent me into the roof voids and basements that visitors don’t see. More recently, carrying out condition surveys on some of Ipswich’s larger public buildings took me into some interesting spaces.

What advice would you have to people starting out in a career in architecture?

You need to be a good verbal communicator – without that, you won’t be able to get your best ideas across to clients, planners, builders and so on.

The ability to draw is obvious but not enough on its own. Be prepared for creative design to occupy only a small part of the job.

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