Ian Ritchie Architects

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Being: an Architect

In this book extract Ian Ritchie RA reveals the deeper meaning of his life as an architect:

“I recall once being warned that, as an architect, until you are 50 you will not be taken seriously enough to receive a decent commission in England. It is a country that prides itself on its creativity and innovation but rarely takes risks, preferring to insure rather than implement. In France that moment comes when you are qualified.

A career in architecture engages with so many disciplines and aspects of life it is impossible not to enjoy it. The cyclical phenomena of nature – day following night following day, the life-regenerating cycle of the seasons – provide evidence for the Taoist paradigm. Successes and failures in architecture are part of the duality of being alive – happy and sad, good and bad, life and death. I am reminded that no amount of darkness can extinguish a candle’s flame. This is why, for me, optimism always prevails.

And architecture is as much about sharing the social adventure as it is about the end product. Living a life through architecture shows me that in every collaboration there is a chance to grow, and that gives the greatest of pleasures, both personal fulfilment and the satisfaction of watching that growth in others in the studio. Yet I am so aware that the only certainty about certainty is its uncertainty. Nothing is given, nothing sure. It is my philosophy, what underpins the art of living to begin every morning when I wake with a smile, and this is the expression I enjoy every day in the faces of the people I work with.”

Published by the Royal Academy of Arts and available in their online shop.