Blog Post – Chris Wilkinson

Founder and Director, WilkinsonEyre

I decided to study architecture when I was only fourteen and this was mainly because I was lucky to meet some architects through my father who I found interesting to talk to. When I failed my A levels at school, I went to study art whilst retaking the A levels and I loved it.  I learned to draw, paint and work with clay which was incredibly useful when I joined Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture (now Westminster University).

I was in heaven and for the first time in my life I worked really hard, which I am still doing now. My external examiner offered me a job at Denys Lasdun’s office which was good training but I soon joined Foster Associates in the early 70’s when it was starting to take off. I loved the expression of structure and technology which I found fresh and exciting. I moved on to work with Michael Hopkins when he started his own practice and then Richard Rogers before setting up in practice on my own.

It was difficult at first because I had become a chameleon working in other people’s offices and I had to discover my own approach. I still believed in the collaboration of architecture and engineering but it wasn’t until I regained my interest in art that I started to find a way forward.

‘Bridging Art and Science’ was the title of an exhibition of our work at the Science Museum in 2000 and also the title of our first book which I wrote with Jim Eyre and it summed up the architectural approach for WilkinsonEyre which is still relevant today.

Since then, I have published two books on drawing and I still believe it is important in architecture. Of course, we have lots of talented young people in the office who are great at parametric modelling which is a terrific way of exploring architectural form but I am particularly impressed if they can also sketch it out on paper.

The recent projects I would like to show are the Dyson Headquarters at Malmesbury which I have been working on for over 20 years, the King’s Cross Gasholders which I also live in and One Barangaroo which is a tower in Sydney which has been recently topped out at 275 metres and is based on a sculpture I designed with my wife and son when I was recovering from heart surgery. It is, therefore, particularly pleasing to me that the client has commissioned a 5m high copy of the sculpture in marble to be placed in the Entrance Lobby.

Dyson Headquarters at Malmesbury

© WilkinsonEyre
© WilkinsonEyre

King’s Cross Gasholders, London

© WilkinsonEyre
© WilkinsonEyre

One Barangaroo, Sydney

© WilkinsonEyre
© Wilkinson Eyre

In this interview, Chris spoke more about his journey into architecture with Founder and Director of MoA, Melissa Woolford.

To learn more about Chris’ journey and WilkinsonEyre, visit the website HERE.