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From contemporary dream homes on Dartmoor to small extensions that make a big difference, David Glassock is the South Brent-based designer who started his own practice in 2018. Bringing the same amount of passion to projects large and small, we spoke to him about his plans for the New Year…
Tell us a bit about your background and when you started David Glassock Architecture…
I started my own practice in October 2018, but before that I had worked for Van Ellen + Sheryn Architects in Ashburton for nearly 10 years, and in Plymouth before that. I grew up in the South West, but I moved to Nottingham for a while, where I worked at CPMG Architects. There we won a lot of awards and they were extremely good to me. I moved down here with my family a few years ago and I decided it was the right time to start working for myself this year.
How did you get into it/ what did you do before?
I studied at Plymouth, and officially I am somewhere between being an architect and architectural draftsman. Essentially I learned on the job - almost like an apprenticeship. As a result I have a lot of experience and I think that adds a certain level of practicality to my understanding of a brief.
I have a lot of empathy with people and their budgets - they are putting their dreams for their home in your hands, and often their life savings as well. That’s an amazing privilege and I feel very honoured to have that responsibility.
What kind of work do you do?
Most of my work is residential, which can mean anything from new build houses to listed building applications. I have also worked on schools and housing schemes, and projects I have worked on have won awards for their construction detailing. I enjoy residential work though because there’s a person at the end of it and you see it all the way through. You are there from the early ideas through to completion, and that whole experience is really nice. Of course, residential can mean a lot of things, from high-end one-off houses to a kitchen extension on a small budget. Often however, it’s the smaller projects that are the most rewarding; trying to create something really special that means a lot to someone.
What are you working on at the moment?
As we speak, I’m sitting here trying to design a new house for a client in the South Hams. It’s a really lovely site in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a challenge as it’s on a limited budget, so we have to be careful with the arrangement and also be respectful to the setting and the landscape. It’s elevated in the middle of a field, which sounds like a dream blank canvas, but that can be very difficult to design because there’s nothing around it to define the brief. If you’re in the middle of two properties a house almost designs itself.
Is there a project you’re most proud of?
I’ve got a couple of projects in planning at the moment, which I am really looking forward to seeing come to fruition, but for me it’s always about the process and the client. I did a project that was on Grand Designs and became known as the Ferris Bueller inspired home; that was great and it was a real challenge. However, for me it’s the smaller projects that are really special. I am doing one for a client at the moment, which has a £40,000 budget and it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done because they’re such nice people and I am really looking forward to seeing it. So much of what I do is about listening to people. You learn a lot about them and responding to that to give them their dream home is wonderful.
Are there particular challenges that go with working in your industry in South Devon?
It can be very difficult to get a planning application through, particularly in the national park areas like the South Hams. You have to be far more sensitive to the location, and the design has to be very well considered. Also there aren’t the number of plots that you might have in other parts of the country, a new build is much more visible in an undeveloped area, and the topography can be challenging. For example, Salcombe is essentially built on a cliff face, so it can cost a lot to build or extend properties as sites are steep. However, all of that also makes the work far more rewarding.
Does the Devon landscape impact how you design as well?
Absolutely. Architecture’s all about the site; where the sun rises, where the views are. You design by what’s around you. If you listen and respond to the landscape though, houses almost design themselves. Some sites are really restricted and that defines your brief. In Dartmouth for example, buildings can only be constructed if materials are taken by the river, so it really makes you think about the construction methodology.
What are your plans for the future of the business?
Ultimately, my plan is just to let people know I’m available and I’m here. I like working on brand new house build schemes, but I also really enjoy working on extensions, loft conversions and loft lean-tos. Essentially I like working on any project that makes a client happy and ultimately lets me do what I love, which is design that changes peoples lives. That’s why I do what I do; that’s why I love it.
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