We caught up with architectural designer and TV presenter Charlie Luxton at Jewson Live where he talked about building design and how he likes to get stuck into the work on site.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always been interested in building and structures. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time as a child building dens. I studied architecture at university and I’ve been involved in the design and construction of many fantastic projects ever since.
I visited Ethiopia at the beginning of my career which is where I learnt a great deal about sustainable construction and products – installing solar panels for example. I still take any opportunity I can to get on site and get involved with the construction of projects.
In terms of getting involved in TV, I’ve always been really interested in this area and previously worked on set designs for films. When I was approached by the producers for Channel 5 I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go and have a chat with them. They managed to persuade me to try my hand at being in front of the camera, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I love the combination in my career of the fast paced world of TV and production with the slower pace of a long term building project.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business in the construction industry?
It’s a simple piece of advice, but it’s essential to dedicate time and resource to the actual running of the business. When you are a passionate about what you do, whether that’s working as a plumber, a builder or an architect, it’s really tempting to focus on that. However, if you start out making sure you are focused on setting up the processes you’ll need to keep your finances running smoothly and promoting your business for example, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and time in the long run. It’s definitely something I’ve realised over time.
How do you juggle the demands of your broadcast career and architecture practice?
It’s definitely tricky to balance my time between public speaking, presenting and my architecture practice and I’m usually on the go from early in the morning until 7.30pm. I’ve got some really great people around me who help me to fit everything in. I’m really lucky to be working on some interesting projects that really keep me motivated and working hard.
What’s the most memorable episode of Building the Dream you’ve filmed?
That’s such a difficult question to answer: there have been so many fantastic people and projects. I never cease to be amazed with what people are able to achieve, how much they can learn and what hardships they will endure to create their dream builds. You’ve really got to admire anyone who takes on the challenge of building their own home.
One project which particular stands out in my memory is working with Mandy and Andy in Yorkshire. The couple decided to build a new home tailored to Andy’s medical needs after he was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s Disease – a chronic back pain condition which causes mobility problems. His condition made it really difficult for him to get around on site and so Mandy really got stuck in to helping with the construction. For example, she wired the entire house herself, despite the fact she’d never done any work like this before.
What’s your favourite project/design you’ve worked on as part of your architecture practice?
Picking a favourite project is really tough – you put so much into them, they’re like your children! Our aim is always to create buildings and spaces that reflect, complement and add to their surroundings. We recently worked on a new build in Cornwall called the Sheep Shed which is inspired by agricultural and seaside sheds found in the local area. We used pre-cut timber I-beams, wood fibre insulation, offcuts of English oak for cladding, reclaimed stone for lower walls and reclaimed Delabole slate for the roof to reduce the total energy used in the build process. My favourite projects are always the ones where we work really closely in collaboration with the client and the build team.
What do you get up to when you’re not working?
There’s nothing better than getting down to Cornwall to surf. I always try to schedule my free time around when there is going to be a good swell.
We’re making a brew – are you a tea or coffee drinker?
I’m definitely a big fan of coffee. I’ve recently got an Aeropress and it makes a great cup of coffee!