Peter’s Perspective | November/December
Thirty years after Piers Gough designed a Britton Street house for Janet Street-Porter, our columnist Peter Murray says it deserves to be Listed.
Piers Gough and Janet Street Porter were students together at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in Bedford Square during the swinging Sixties. They stood out even then — Janet, lanky and stylish, she made most of her own clothes and sold her designs to shops in Carnaby Street. She was Janet Bull from Perivale, and her accent seemed stronger then, or at least it stood out more among the public school-educated, mainly male, students of the day.
She married Tim Street-Porter — who went on to become a leading photographer — to pick up her double-barrelled moniker. Piers was equally loud, had a huge mop of hair — still a distinctive feature but greyer now — and he drew like a dream. His buildings stood out from the high-tech designs of his peers.
I remember his proposals for a factory for chemical giant ICI with the main frontage of the building formed from the company’s initials. Janet and he remained friends after school and when she and Tim split up and Janet wanted a home of her own, Piers was the natural person to ask to design it. The work of his practice CZWG — set up with three AA contemporaries and with offices in Bowling Green Lane — had retained a distinctive, uncategorisable style. A book of their work published in the Eighties dubbed them ‘English Eccentrics’.
The house has turned out to be a Clerkenwell landmark with its defensive feel, blue roof, variegated brickwork (all the rage now), concrete log window mouldings, Juliet balcony, and medieval-ish windows. It’s 30 years old this year and probably ought to be Listed — it’s definitely a community asset and is significant because it marks that time in the area’s history when it started to move from a light industrial hub to a creative quarter.
Peter Murray is Chairman of NLA: London’s Centre for the Built Environment www.newlondonarchitecture.org