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‘Clavis lux est’ - The key is Light

Isolation | Chris Dyson

Thursday 9 April 2020

We all sit alone on the ship sometimes at home sometimes in the studio at the moment always alone… strange times for a collaborative profession! My wife Sarah and I believe we have had the virus and will never know until tested, so we have been careful.

My routine is early rise 7:00 am yoga and some weights, to save my body from shrivelling up. Walk Milo the dog and then walk one street to Fashion Street Studios – which are closed and I work for the morning checking the machines are all working for the home workers we have 16 at present all working very efficiently I might add!

We were set up for this and are managing quite well as a team I worry that some of the younger members of the office have lost their ‘buddies’ / mentors and may feel a little less connected and more isolated…we all meet regularly though on Microsoft Teams and Gin Fridays in the evening for a social on Zoom.

‘Clavis lux est’ - The key is Light

While in the studio I juggle financial management discussions with work all the time as many small practioner do – we have had to furlough my PA and studio manager as there is little that person can do when we are all at home. At this time of writingI get a lot done as long as I don’t panic!….steadily working through my lists for the day with the usual interruptions is still a pleasure.

At the moment I’m preparing a pre application for two wonderfully historic buildings in Lincolns Inn and the first task has been carrying a thorough research paper on the history of these buildings, which involved the work of many hands names such as Inigo Jones, Sir John Soane, John Ware, Nicholas Stone to name a few…

These buildings are currently used as chambers and our task is to look into other uses such as residential, or Hotel even. There is an unusual amount of the original buildings details retained on the basement, ground first and second floors, leaving the third and fourth floor plans to be the places where much is lost or rebuilt as a consequence of fire and changes over time presenting opportunities to improve the commodity of the building – as ever with such a challenge this will be a delicate piece of surgery, repair and renewal.

‘Clavis lux est’ - The key is Light

The afternoons are spent at home working in my study which is a more reflective and quiet space that allows time for sketching and free thinking. I’m putting into plan projects that would normally take longer to think about, such as a design brief for an Eco-House in Epping Forest, hopefully for my year [delayed by one] as master of the WCCA, as we all know competitions take planning and foresight as does good design so I reckon 2 years should do it!

Our plans for a new arts centre building for Harrow Arts are now going into planning following a successful public meeting some weeks before the lockdown, which proved popular and we hope to progress to construction once we are out the ‘other side’…All this said, I do miss my staff in presence and the spontaneity of people in the same room – that can surely return one day soon.

I can only imagine how architects felt during the last war – at least we have the technology and we are not at war and can still be creative! The world may come out this a much kinder and more cooperative place – who knows…!? New turbo trainer and laptop to arrive someday soon..!

‘Amor Vincet Omnia’… Love Conquers all…

Chris Dyson words and images
The Architecture Club member