Tim Bowder-Ridger on Emotion of Buildings, Escaping + More


Architect and designer Tim Bowder-Ridger has a passion for creating authentic experiences that are centered around culture and personality. He joined Conran and Partners in 1997 and the board in 2008. As Principal, Tim leads the practice and its overall direction through its UK and Hong Kong studios. Conran and Partners is internationally recognized with over 80 renowned awards and accreditations for their innovative and holistic designs. Tim brings this knowledge to different sectors, including hospitality, residential, and workplace, to design buildings and spaces that holistically reflect contemporary wants and needs. He believes successfully designed buildings and spaces should be at ease with themselves in a way that’s tangible to users with a sense of place and aspiration. Tim is able to put these principles to use by leading projects that are large and small, both at home and abroad. He has a particular interest in the reuse of existing buildings, both from a cultural and sustainability perspective.

Today, Tim Bowder-Ridger is joining us for Friday Five!

light-skinned man with dark hair and facial hair wearing a black t-shirt and black button down

Tim Bowder-Ridger

dark interior space with large round dining table surrounded by chairs and a statement light fixture hanging above

Ruya Restaurant, London \ Photo: Luke Hayes

1. London

Dedicated use of London culture through its amazing choice of galleries and museums. The V&A Museum is still probably my favorite due to its focus on how the design of our world has developed. This ‘strenuous’ intellectual exercise then comes with a reward of a lovely meal in one of London’s great restaurants – who would have thought in the 80’s the choice of quality food in London would be so wide and varied? A perennial favorite of mine being Ruya (a modern Anatolian restaurant on Upper Grosvenor Street) was designed by our practice for Dogüs and really demonstrates an authentic balance of food, service, and atmosphere through an unbending attention to detail that connects each of these elements.

two miniature Schnauzers standing on the road next to a house

2. Disappearing Into Time

With a predominately urban lifestyle, my way of maintaining balance is to regularly break-out to the High Weald (a medieval landscape about an hour’s drive out of London) to hike with my two miniature Schnauzers. Other than engaging with nature and detoxifying, it never ceases to fascinate me how people live in houses built in, say, the 15th century, but engage with 21st century technology that enables them to communicate with the other side of the world in real time… Can you imagine what the original builders would have thought of our world?

front facade of tall building with gridded windows, there are people relaxing in the grassy space in the foreground

Futako Tamagawa \ Photo: Edward Sumner

3. Absorbing Other Cultures

Notwithstanding my passion for London, having grown up within an army family, travel is a very important part of my DNA and informs much of what I do as an Architect and Designer. My career has taken me to many countries and cities, however Tokyo stands out as the perfect contrast to London in its tone and personality. This is partially due to the architecture and food that can be, at its best, a combination of calm simplicity and extreme quality.
Before the pandemic intervened, I had been to Tokyo 36 times, and I feel that I am only now getting under the skin of Japanese culture. And in doing so, my admiration only increases and their influence on me as an architect only grows.

several tall buildings, two people crouching to inspect something in the landscaping

Futako Tamagawa \ Photo: Edward Sumner

4. The Emotional Effect of Buildings

The defining moment that led me to become an Architect was standing under the great dome of Ayah Sophia in Istanbul in 1986. I had been traveling in the Near East for almost a year and still toying with whether I should follow the family trade of becoming a soldier. But suddenly I realized how buildings and spaces can generate overwhelming emotional reactions, in this case even after 1500 years. I was fascinated by how this could be achieved in contemporary buildings. It triggered a fundamental change in the direction of my young life, and upon returning to UK I signed up to study architecture. Incidentally, years later this heightened emotional experience memorably reoccurred when I was asked to present a short talk in Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut… rather reassuring that buildings can still have such an effect on me!

exterior of terraced building with lots of windows

Kita Aoyama \ Photo: Forward Stroke Inc.

5. Keeping It Simple

Japanese architecture has influenced most of my design narratives throughout my career. I respect the importance of expressive clarity within architecture, made tangible by authentic materials and deliberate details. By buildings and spaces being designed in such a way, they stand the test of time and hopefully remain relevant and uplifting for future generations. The very opposite to a throw-away, selfie-based society.

 

Work by Tim Bowder-Ridger + Conran and Partners:

looking up at the facade of a tall building

Centre Point \ Photo: Luke Hayes

people walking along the sidewalk next to a long building

Futako Tamagawa \ Photo: Edward Sumner

person with two dogs descending outdoor stairs in courtyard space of building

Futako Tamagawa \ Photo: Edward Sumner

stark interior space with warm wood toned walls

Kita Aoyama \ Photo: Forward Stroke Inc.

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.



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