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Speaker Profile: Andy Groarke


Our first instalment of NEWNOWNEXT Agents of Change 2015 will take place at Innovation Academy on Wednesday 20 May when Andy Groarke of London based studio Carmody Groarke will speak to us.

Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke founded Carmody Groarke in 2006 after meeting at the offices of David Chipperfield Architects. After a couple of years the proverbial hit the fan; the recession kicked in. To deal with the decline in trade, Carmody Groarke began to look beyond the parameters of architecture and took on some interesting, but challenging projects.

“To begin with, some of these projects, on the margins of conventional architecture, were the only ones available to a young studio in the depts of a recession. They forced us to be agile and improvisational and to not be complacent about any opportunity to build,” explained Andy when we spoke to him ahead of NEWNOWNEXT, “some are exciting because they are built quickly and it is thrilling to see projects built (Studio East Dining), some are humbling because of their special purpose (7 July Memorial) and some compelling because of their unique location (Windermere Steamboat Museum).”

Studio East Dining built on top of a parking garage within the construction site of the Westfield Shopping Center in Stratford City, was a pop-up restaurant. Carmody Groarke borrowed all of their materials from the construction site and recycled them after the three week life of the restaurant. This was on the one hand quite practical, with just ten weeks from brief to completion the duo had to be resourceful, but it also tied in with the concept of the temporary use of space. “Sometimes it is necessary to be improvisational with materials to get things built, but we are also interested in the latent cultural values that materials may inherently have from previous uses,” said Andy.

Andy went on to explain how temporary projects can inform later more permanent projects, “temporary architecture can be realised and operate without some of the baggage of more permanent weathering (long term effects of wear and tear, weathering, relatively significant investment etc) and has allowed us several opportunity to test architectural ideas at full scale. These ‘tests’ about how people use (and mis-use) places and spaces inform the designs of more long-lasting projects.”

Andy’s proudest achievement to date is 7 July Memorial. Carmody Groarke entered a competition alongside eight artists and were awarded the commission. The brief was to design a permanent memorial to the victims of the London terrorist bombings of 7 July 2005. Located in Hyde Park, the memorial consists of 52 stainless-steel vertical pillars, each one bearing the name of of one of the victims. 7 July Memorial won the 2010 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) London Award, one of architecture’s most coveted prizes.

Arguably the pair’s biggest project to date, The Windermere Steamboat Museum in the Lake District was designed for the Lakeland Arts Trust. The plan is to rehouse the museum’s boat collection on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District National Park. Alongside the museum will be a conservation workshop, where visitors can watch boat builders and apprentices work on the collection. Carmody Groarke won the project through open international competition organised by the RIBA and it received planning approval in June 2013.

Designing exhibitions, Frieze pavilions, an underground spa in Limerick, pop ups, memorials, and so much more has all led up to this point. A varied, resourceful and improvisational output is often not the norm for an architectural practice, but in each project there is learning which keeps Carmody Groarke ahead of the pack.

NEWNOWNEXT Andy Groarke has now been fully booked. To be added to the waiting list please go HERE

NEWNOWNEXT A New Generation:  panel discussion with Clancy Moore, Hall McKnight, Steve Larkin and TAKA, 17 June, Design Museum London. Book your place HERE

NEWNOWNEXT Ole Scheeren, Büro Ole Scheeren: Connective Architecture(s), 1 October. Booking will open in September.

NEWNOWNEXT Kunle Adeyemi, NLÉ, 19 November. Booking will open in October.


Image: 7 July Memorial