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benhamarchitect

Principal architect / director at Benham Architects

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Philosophy (Personal Statement)

“Architects design for different reasons. Some want to make big statement buildings or express a political stance, others want to test new technologies or try building in difficult climates; all those things are valid. But for me, architecture is fundamentally about people.

People are the ones who use, enjoy and feel emotion when they experience architecture. I want my students to ask what it would be like to open that front door. What is the light like as you enter? What view do you see? We’ve got five senses and if you can design spaces that make people want to get up in the morning, then architecture can actually start to change society. If you can design spaces that make people want to get up in the morning, then architecture can actually start to change society.

A particular client was in a wheelchair as the result of a work accident and we were converting his home, making it accessible, connecting it with the landscape and opening up stunning views. He had been very down and hadn’t come to any previous meetings but this time he met us at the door; he had a real sparkle in his eyes and said that the building made him feel alive. This is the reason why I create architecture!

You do architecture to improve the quality of people’s lives – and it can be the tiny extensions or changing a small outside space that makes the biggest difference. I think that’s why I get satisfaction from every project; if you’re always aspiring to build something bigger then you’re never quite content.

At work our studio is open-plan – both in its space and in its philosophy. Everyone is free to comment on anybody else’s design and there is no hierarchy. This atmosphere of trust and mutual support affects how I teach. I want my students to be able to express themselves and to believe that that they can make a difference through their work. I try to give them a platform to grow as architects and have their passions inform their designs, because that’s when architecture really flourishes.

For me, architecture is fundamentally about people. People are the ones who use, who experience, who enjoy, who get emotions when they go through architecture.

In Britain the standard of our volume housing is so poor that people think it’s the best you can get. Apparently the top three house builders in the UK don’t employ architects and that’s just unbelievable. Function just works but architecture is where you create an emotion that goes beyond meeting a basic need. It connects people to one another and takes them mentally and physically to a higher level. My parents were originally from the Middle East, where nothing is more important than family and the home - architecture creates homes, not just houses”.

4.0 Weblinks:

https://www.architecture.com/Explore/RIBARoleModels/DanBenham.aspx
(Only RIBA role model for Wales and this has my thoughts on housing)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/4kj9xlfYJD3hfLkCT3KDYP5/dan-benham
(My profile on the BBC website. I took part in a BBC TV series called building dream homes)

Part-time tutor at Cardiff University (Welsh School of Architecture).
http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/architecture/profile/dan-benham/

One of my last projects at Loyn & Co - Millbrook House (where I was lead designer and project architect, won the following awards):

- Royal Society of Architects in Wales - Building of the Year 2015

- Royal Society of Architects in Wales - Award 2015

- National Eisteddfod of Wales, Gold Medal for Architecture - 2015

Past President of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (part of the RIBA)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Society_of_Architects_in_Wales

I have been a judge for numerous architecture awards and a member of RIBA Council 2013-2015

Company Name: 
Benham Architects
Role / Position: 
Principal Architect / Director

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