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The impact of Grand Designs on architecture

Kevin McCloud’s signature television programme has been on the air for an incredible twenty years, and is still going strong. There are few Britons who have never seen an episode. With spin-offs in Australia and New Zealand, it’s appeal has traversed the globe. The format of the programme is key reason for its success, but it is also the cultural and intellectual impact that has stood the test of time. Grand Designs took architecture out of offices and design studios and made it something the public could appreciate and even wish to emulate. It also showed people how to deal with a building project, the sticking point to any fantasy.

Willingness to bend

For all the magnificent projects and lofty ambitions, it was adversity that kept viewers engaged. Property owners were faced with the prospects of their designs failing and having to change their ideas depending on circumstances. In an interview with the Guardian, McCloud explained:

‘Every good piece of contextual one-off architecture is unique, so it’s bound to modify…Building a house from scratch in the middle of a field is a bit like building a prototype car. As with all prototypes, if you’re building a car you usually have the luxury of producing several prototypes before you arrive at the production line version – so the opportunity for changing things is quite rich. But with a one-off house it’s almost impossible to make all your changes before you begin to build. Half way through, you suddenly realise something’s got to change.’

Grand Designs has shown the public that building something of their own, in conjunction with an architect, is an exciting endeavour. However, it’s balanced with the reality; great design is rare, and there is often the need for compromise during construction.

The price

A great many episodes of Grand Designs feature would-be house-builders who run into budgetary problems. Building your own house may mean running over budget – occasionally significantly over budget. But the programme always made it clear that in the pursuit of dreams, money should ultimately be a secondary concern.

McCloud himself is quick to talk about quality of life, and about a home being an enriching and comfortable place to live. Some of the homes on the programme cost tens of thousands of pounds to build – some cost hundreds of thousands. But the focus should always be on what you want versus what you need, not how much you have to spend.

Time Frame

If you are building an extension to your home with a trusted architect, the project may reach completion fairly quickly (assuming you have the relevant permissions). However, building your own home from scratch, to a bespoke design in a challenging location may take a year or longer. In this scenario, changing seasons and weather need to be accounted for, as well as where you are going to live in the meantime!

Grand Designs put architecture on the map. If you’re interested in building your own Grand Design, get in touch today and discuss your dreams with our friendly team.



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The impact of Grand Designs on architecture