Q&A with George Clarke

Tuesday 8 October

Q&A with George Clarke

What are you up to at the moment? 

A lot! I’m filming two new series of Old House, New Home, and a new conversion and restoration series that will be out in January 2020.

I’m also filming a big new campaigning series celebrating 100 years of British housing and 100 years since the government act came into place for the state to build affordable homes for rent.

It’s basically a campaign to get the state to build truly affordable homes again – which it hasn’t been for 40 years, hence why this country is going through a housing crisis. 

If you hadn’t been an architect, what would you have been? 

A photographer. I love taking and looking at photos. Photographs are the greatest way to capture history and visual memories. I’m lucky enough to experience and see so many amazing things, and taking photos is my way of creating a visual diary of my life. 

People can be quite wary of architecture – why do you think that is? 

I think it’s because they see architecture as a professional discipline with a capital ‘A’, and only for people with lots of money. Also, they think that architecture only applies to huge, iconic buildings like the Shard or the British Museum, which isn’t true.

Every home is an important piece of architecture, and if you’re going to do any work to your home, no matter how small or insignificant you think that work might be, it’s making a contribution to the overall architecture of the place you live.

I think that’s important and should be given the design time it deserves. I prefer architecture with a small ‘a’, to be honest. 

Which ‘Amazing Space’ would you most like to have? 

I’m lucky – I already have it: a place by the sea on a Mediterranean island. It’s heaven.

But, if I had to choose another, it would be Sir John Soane’s house in London. His refurbishment of the existing buildings to create an incredible new home was done nearly 200 years ago, and it still blows my mind. 

How did you first hear about Maggie’s? 

I used to work for the architect Sir Terry Farrell, and through him I met Charles Jencks, whose wife, Maggie, came up with idea for the Maggie's centres.

When I first saw the Maggie’s designed by Frank Gehry in 2004, I fell in love with the entire idea of what Maggie’s were looking to do: use architecture in the most wonderful, humbling way by creating comforting places to support people with cancer. 

How would you describe Maggie’s to someone who had never heard of us? 

Calm, beautiful and relaxed spaces where you can truly feel at home. A living room that doesn’t really belong to anyone, but it makes you feel like you belong. A place of safety. 

What one thing could we change about buildings that would make all our lives better? 

Make them all zero-carbon, fully sustainable and ecological. This would help fight climate change and combat the horrendous level of fuel poverty in this country.

A warm, comfortable, healthy home has a chance of being a beautiful, happy home. 

If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be? 

My dream is to build an environmentally-friendly house, surrounded by greenery in the British countryside. Maybe somewhere like Gloucestershire, because that’s where my son wants to go to equestrian college.

What’s your favourite space and why? 

My garden studio at home, because it’s my escape and my haven. It’s where I have my desk and I’m surrounded by so many things that mean so much to me. And it’s quiet!


Article first published in Making Maggie's magazine, Issue 5 October 2019