Hopkins Architects

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Michael Hopkins Architects

Buildings by Michael Hopkins & Partners, London, England, UK Architecture Studio Information

Hopkins Architects

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22 Mar 2018
RIBA South East Awards Shortlist in 2018

The Kai Yong Yeoh Building, Brighton College, Brighton & Hove is one of fourteen buildings shortlisted for RIBA South East Awards 2018 by the Royal Institute of British Architects judges. There were 43 buildings entered in the region, which covers Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The Kai Yong Yeoh Building
photo © Simon Kennedy

RIBA South East Awards 2018

Michael Hopkins

A Personal View

What are the key buildings in this strong ouevre? My view would be that the Hopkins House (1976) was the precursor, more a springboard than a prototype. It expressed the dominant UK style at the time, Hi-Tech. The house paid massive homage to Ray & Charles Eames so you could argue that Michael & Patti Hopkins became the English equivalent of the Eames architects at this point. The house clearly had a close relationship with the earlier Hi-tech London house (1967) by Richard & Su Rogers and Norman Foster & Wendy Foster.

Hopkins House – photographs © Adrian Welch, taken on 17 Sep 2011:

Hopkins House Hopkins House Hopkins House Hopkins House

But as they worked with other building types a variety of styles emerged. Most eye-catching is probably the white tent devised for Schlumberger (seen at the same time in their own Studio) which reached its climax at the Mound Stand where it became more curvaceous and where the radiant seams appear to be much repeated. This tent-like concept is probably the prime innovation for contemporary western architecture by Michael Hopkins as the hi-tech house simply emulated an established style.

Michael Hopkins’ House, more photos at base of Hampstead Architecture page
Michael Hopkins' House Hampstead
photograph © Isabelle Lomholt – scan from 1990

Other patterns emerge early on – hi-tech cabling and expressed structure similar to Rogers, Foster and Grimshaw but with a certain heaviness, eg the nodal castings at Bedfont Lakes or the window bays at Bracken House. Brick is also a common feature from Glyndebourne to the Inland Revenue Centre with timber becoming more common in later works such as the Norwich Refectory. But then stone also is frequently used from Queens College to Sherborne so Hopkins Architects can’t really be accused of being overly repetitive: they show a healthy eclectism in materials, style and form.

The frequent use of the white tent has been criticised by some for showing a lack of responsiveness to location but my opinion is there is too much invention in western architecture over the last few decades and it is entirely appropriate that once architects and engineers have worked extremely hard to devise a system that works it is worth repeating and perfecting.

I feel that as the briefs for some massive buildings came along the architects struggled to fully modify their design to apply appropriate scale and modelling. Buildings such as Schlumberger and the Mound Stand are strong concepts that work from macro to micro. The early Greene King building and the later Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building aren’t elegant enough, a level of articulation was missing which makes them good but not brilliant buildings. I struggle with many elements of Portcullis House too, the massive dark brooding chimneys and heavy patterned roof are at the opposite end to the elegant floating roofs of the Mound Stand and Schlumberger.

The strongest buildings are interspersed within the chronology of Hopkins Architects‘ works suggesting a journey of investigation with successes and maybe some wrong turns. The David Mellor Cutlery Factory (1989) appeared whilst I was studying architecture, it was referenced by many suggesting something special; for me it was outstanding as an elegant but unostentatious building. Simple contextual stone base with a delicious gap above, then the conical floating roof topped off by a delicate lantern. Hopkins achieves something here that the other British Hi-Tech architects didn’t, something softer and more responsive to the human pysche.

Another highly successful building is a concurrent project, also for David Mellor (1991), in Shad Thames. I worked here for Conran (CDP at the time) and although this building is completely rectilinear compared to the Cutlery Factory it is just as elegant. The Kahnsian articulation of stair/lift core set off and back from the main block using glass is accomplished and the expression of the concrete structure is clear and successful.

After this there is quite a gap – past buildings that seem rather soulless such as Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building – until 2004 when the Norwich Cathedral Refectory Centre appears. Although bulky from some angles the contrast of old stone with new metal and timber is clever and subtle. The dominant feel is a move to use timber – probably for sustainable reasons – but the structure is expressed in a clear and elegant way, just like the Shad Thames building used concrete. Timber structure or cladding becomes a recurrent theme in subsequent buildings – Alnwick, Skipton and the Jubilee Campus. These more recent buildings suggest a return to the more approachable and human style of the Mound Stand and the Cutlery Factory.

Hopkins stands with Rogers, Foster, Grimshaw, Horden and Wilkinson as one of the English Hi-Tech architects that went on to develop a less doctrinaire approach to buildings. Ultimately Hopkins Architects’ buildings have proved responsive to Clients and context and provide a welcome contemporary antidote to the all-too-common British traditionalism in architecture.

Comments re our brief critique of Hopkins Architects ouevre welcome

Hopkins Architects : main page with news + key projects

Hopkins Architects – Buildings

Designs by Hopkins Architects, chronological:

Cricket Stadium, Pune, India
55,000-seater stadium
VeloPark, Olympics Site, London, UK
Nicosia Cultural Centre, Cyprus
Chemistry Building, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
Kroon Building – School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Northern Arizona University – Advanced Research & Development Facility, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
New Science Building, Bryanston School, Blandford, Dorset, southwest England
Shin-Marunouchi, Tokyo, Japan
National Tennis Centre, Roehampton, southwest London, UK
Alnwick Gardens Visitor Centre, Northumberland, northeast England
Evelina Children’s Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, south London
Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, southeast England
Ambulatory Cancer Care Centre, Totttenham Court Road, central-north London
Utopia – Broughton Hall, Skipton, Yorkshire, north England
Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building, Euston Road, north London, UK
Norwich Cathedral Refectory Centre, Norwich, Norfolk, southeast England
Inn the Park, St James’ Park, Westminster, central London, UK
GEK-Terna HQ, Athens, Greece
Haberdashers’ Hall, City of London, England
National College for School Leadership, University of Nottingham, England
Manchester Art Gallery – redevelopment + new gallery, Manchester, north England
Forum building, Norwich, Norfolk, southeast England
Hampshire County Cricket Club, Southampton, Hampshire, south England
Goodwood Racecourse, Goodwood Estate, Sussex, southeast England
Wildscreen@Bristol, Bristol, southwest England
Charterhouse – Sheltered Housing, Charterhouse, City of London, UK
Portcullis House – Parliament building, Westminster, London, UK
Pilkington Laboratories, Sherborne School, Dorset, southwest England
Jubliee Campus, University of Nottingham, central England
Westminster Underground Station, Westminster, London, UK
Our Dynamic Earth, Holyrood, central Edinburgh, Scotland
Saga Group HQ, Folkestone, Kent, southeast England
Lady Sarah Cohen House, London, UK
Emmanuel College – Queen’s Building, Cambridge, southeast England
Buckingham Palace Ticket Office, Green Park, west London, UK
Inland Revenue Centre, Nottingham, central England
Glyndebourne Opera House, Glyndebourne, Sussex, south England
New Square building, Bedfont Lakes, Feltham, Middlesex, south England
Bracken House, City of London, England
Schlumberger Research Centre, Cambridge, southeast England
David Mellor Offices & Showroom, Shad Thames, southeast London, England
1988-91; later converted to Conran shop + offices
David Mellor Cutlery Factory, Hathersage, nr. Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Solid State Logic, Begbroke, Oxon, Oxfordshire, south England
Mound Stand, Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, UK
Fleet Velmead Infants School, Hampshire, south England
Hopkins Studio, Marylebone, northwest London, UK
Patera Building System, England
1980-82; 85 [The only remaining Patera Building is at 27, Broadley Terrace, London NW1, the offices of Michael Hopkins and Partners; two previously sited at Canary Wharf, east London, England]
Greene King Brewery – Draught Beer Cellars, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Hopkins House, Hampstead, north London, UK

More projects by Hopkins Architects online soon

Dynamic Earth
Dynamic Earth, overview image © Adrian Welch

Hopkins Architects

Dynamic Earth
Dynamic Earth, south-east view – 2001 image © Adrian Welch

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Hopkins Architects Practice Information

Michael Hopkins & Partners studio based in Broadley Terrace, London, UK

Michael & Patricia Hopkins – RIBA Gold Medal Winner 1994

Evelina Childrens Hospital – Hopkins Architects : Stirling Prize 2006

Michael Hopkins : London Architects

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Swiss Re Building
photo © Adrian Welch

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