Skip to content

B 2 (3)

Many years ago at University we learnt that old buildings 'breathe' and that old buildings  perform thermally much better than the silly calculations the Government requires us to use to meet the building regs. Recent research by SPAB and STBA has shown that to be true.

If impervious insulation is fitted either internally or externally it is usually too much and  by not allowing water vapour escape actually does more harm than good. There are a number of things that 'renovators' should NEVER do to buildings built, approximately, before WW2. Here are 5 of my favourite:

  1. Never fit UPVC windows without trickle vents or full-house mechanical ventilation system (MVHR).
  2. Repoint with lime mortar DO NOT USE cement mortar. The lime means the mortar moves and is permeable.
  3. Replaster with lime plaster as it is not impermeable.
  4. Repair the existing DPC, and ensure that the external ground level is a minimum of 150 mm below it, rather than replace with a useless chemical one.
  5. A new concrete floor and DPM will force the moisture into the walls and cause issues, try a ventilated and drained 'limecrete', or a 'suspended' timber, floor without a carpet.

If you would like help with bringing an old building back into having a useful life in the C21 please contact me at or through my website As a qualified conservation architect, it is what I do.

B 2 (3)">

The proposed Oxford to Cambridge Corridor currently has no road link and only a proposed rail link to 'hang things off'. However, the A14, A45 and A43 between them already serve this function between them to the North and pass through one of the growth areas of the Country with even greater scope for development. It is an opportunity for Huntingdon, Thrapston, Wellingborough, Kettering, Northampton, Towcester and Brackley to join in with an alternative, ready-made, solution. Particularly if the principles expressed in the above video are taken on board.

Such a 'corridor' lacks a rail link currently but public transport has moved beyond tracks

As climate warming progresses London will need to relocate to the North. Both the proposed Southern version and my own 'Northern' form could be combined to form a new capital city around Milton Keynes very easily. With a port at Peterborough and several airports surrounding it Milton Keynes is the obvious solution to a very serious problem slowly developing at a rate that we can respond to.

Northamptonshire even has an historical model as, if the Napoleonic Wars had been lost, Weedon Depot was based in the Centre of the Country as a last stand with a Royal Palace etc!

As an architect I have been thinking about such issues for many years and am looking for a format to explore them further architecturally and in planning and urban design terms too. If you have any suggestions please contact me or leave a comment.


Apparently it is important for my 'brand'.

My back was born at the same time as the rest of me. The top part wanted to become an architect after pester power as a child got a visit to Portmeirion during a family holiday in Wales in the mid 1960s. The architect was born in Northamptonshire. That led to visits to the buildings in the County that had inspired him and I came away with a similar impression that architecture should be fun. Portmeirion is a fabulous and fun place that operates as a hotel where we stay annually after having honeymooned there. Loads of visual tricks, rescued buildings and a short walk from the Ffestiniog Railway, Snowdon, Castles, the Centre for Alternative Technology and other buildings by Clough Williams-Ellis the architect of Portmeirion.

During the mid 1970s I got side-tracked by my Physics master into 'tracking' Soviet nuclear powered weather satellites which meant we were, basically, spying. My contribution was assisting, with a schoolfriend, in discovering that one of them was going to crash on Canada. It did. Which got a mention in the press, the New Scientist and in a US Senate report into the Soviet satellite missions.

Then got back on track with the long University training to be an architect through full time study, part time study and distance learning over more than seven years resulting in more letters after my name than in it. Didn't stop learning though and I got into 3D CAD and BIM from the early 1990s and stopped using 2D 'electronic drawing board' software such as AutoCAD. I also developed an interest in working with existing historic buildings and sustainable living

The World was going digital and for the past decade ALL my designs and projects have been prototyped in cyberspace before drawings are issued to the contractor to build from. Now the model can be issued to the contractor and the client / building owner so that it can be used for Facilities Management.

I also have an interest in the oddness that is the British canal network. Where else can you float on water underground for over a mile or high above a river valley with the ability to stop at a pub each night as you cruise around.

A love and appreciation for oddities, Portmeirion and the idea that art can be fun also got me married to my photographer / secondary school teacher wife who has managed to keep me entertained as well. Discovering that for 3 or 4 generations our family history crossed in both Leeds and Whitby living as neighbours is pure coincidence!



Whilst our towns expand, sometimes unnecessarily, into surrounding green fields (the subject of the next Archiblog) existing buildings in the countryside are falling into decay and redundancy. There are also the eyesores left by the County's rich industrial past that also offer huge potential for rural developments that actually enhance out rural areas. The Government and the EU (whilst we are still members) have a whole raft of 'incentives' of grants and loans that can be used to get projects built. Some of the latest ones are being run through SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) from the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) etc:


Kr.eativ: Architects Ltd could help you add value to dead buildings, gravel pits and quarries etc. John has spent much of the 35 years in the profession designing barn conversions and working with listed buildings. The work done when with Watermark Leisure, over 20 years ago at Overstone Park Golf Course has transformed the neglected parkland to Overstone Hall into a thriving golf, leisure and second home resort providing both income and jobs to the County.

Overstone Park

If you are curious and think we could help, please call.