Charlie was born in Australia and came to the UK in 1983. He went on to study architecture at Oxford Brookes University and the Royal College of Art. But most of us know him for his sustainability links within architecture, design and his presenting career.
I had the opportunity to ask Charlie how he got into the TV side:
“I got the opportunity when doing my Masters to screen test and found I enjoy the process, the immediacy of television. There’s some insecurity about where the next job is coming from but the mix of architecture and presenting is something I prefer and keeps both areas fresh.”
With sustainability taking such a major role in his career to date, I asked which would take priority if it came to a choice?
“I’ve knocked back work based on sustainability issues but have worked with some companies to move the area forward. An example would be Shell, where I worked with them on wind development. In terms of design, there does sometimes have to be a compromise, the tension between aesthetics and sustainability can create good work.”
With his favorite architect being Louis Khan, it’s no surprise that Charlie is concerned with detail and materials and when asked what he would like to design, the simple answer was a window system that works, along with changing some conceptions around what shapes we utilise for our buildings:
“The most sustainable shape is a sphere, not the box shape we currently use. Trying to find a design that is a mid-ground between these shapes is the goal.”
Charlies work spans the gamut of project types, from playgrounds to housing and community centres. This is something he actively pursues, with a typical week including working from home, filming and working from his practice office.
In terms of his presenting career, Charlie has worked on a wide range design and architectural programmes, including presenting design awards, and programmes that de-mystify architecture and its processes, for example “Not All Buildings Are Square” for Channel 4.
Charlies’ passion for sustainability in architecture doesn’t just run to his client list or presenting roles, as he proved when completing an eco-friendly renovation on his family home and extending this to his wider community by leading his village in Oxfordshire to be awarded a Low Carbon grant from the UK government. This will help implement various energy reducing measures across the village, including insulation and solar panels.
My reason for profiling this inspiring designer and presenter? Simply his passion for his subject that comes across in all he does, whether it’s a programme about moving to the country for Channel 5, building tree houses for Sky or producing Community Centres for public use.