Skip to main content

36 Year Reunion PNL PAN Class of ’77 G#1146 N#1152

By 26 March 2014June 19th, 2019Uncategorized

GBE > Blog > News > Archive > G#1146 N#1152

36 year reunion PNL PAN 1 class of ’77


36 year reunion PNL PAN 1 class of ’77

  • PNL (Polytechnical of North London)
  • Integrated part time Architecture Course
  • 1977-81: RIBA Part 1 PAN 1-4 BSc. Degree Architecture (Integrated part‑time)
  • 1981-84: RIBA Part 2 PAD 1-3 Diploma Architecture (Integrated Part-time)
  • 36 year reunion PNL PAN
  • Venue: Cullinan Studio, Islington, N1 7RU, London
  • Peter Rich’s, Robin Nickolson’s & Krome Barratt’s PAN & PAD course
  • Tutors Attending: Peter Rich, Robin Nickolson, Yvonne Dean,
  • Students attending: Derrick Hill, Nick Guy, Spud Murphy, Rick Burgess, Ali Rashid, Andy Cook, John Dawson, Alan Corrigun.
  • Contact: Derrick Hill 07530 425 368 or BrianSpecMan
  • 36 year reunion PNL

Dear Robin

Thanks for hosting this in your interesting building-a forge is such a good place to carry on a making tradition.

It was lovely to see everybody again and I’m sorry I couldn’t come for long-it was such a short notice I have a hard time trying to wedge anything in when in London for a short time. I recognised everyone (even if I’m a bit hazy on names) mostly by  hairstyles-isn’t that funny! Am sure I fit into that too but isn’t interesting that’s what we keep.

Here is a link to my competition entry for the Building on a shoestring competition run by the Self Build Association and Grand Designs.

The main point about it is the use of inexpensive coppiced poles to make trusses-instead of very expensive oak frames.

It’s a developing idea but the breakthrough is making a good connection at the ridge.

There is a seminar next week on Tuesday 29th at 6.30 at Canny Ashe’s office in Farringdon-all welcome.

Your entry has been commended as one of the top 16 by the judges and is publicly available to view on the NaSBA website…

This is the only one hand drawn but I do scan in, label up and Photoshop the lot-could do better!

All the best -let’s do it again soon as it was so impressive to hear everyone still have such a passion about what they’re doing.



Martin Castle who became a friend of John Barden  (they are sitting next to each other) was at the last reunion. He dropped out after Part 1 to become a TV cameraman. But at the last reunion he had moved on to become a director of a construction company. Who could ever forget their fantastic atmospheric slide show of the streets of Highbury and Islington to the music of Pink Floyd.

Ali Rashid

The highlights for me were Andy’s Super hero comic and Martin & John’s Slide show

In Peter Rich’s words you either follow the brief or you overwhelm it.

Overwhelm it they did.


Other Highlights:

Environmental Psychology or Sociology lecturer: Seriously hot

Ali and the matchstick incident at materials lecture. So funny.

Thank you Brian for circulating your lovely story.

I just struggled through the earlier group version and then found this simpler direct email one!

But I wondered if Peter had got it.

Of course liberation was the big idea and so exciting for us to see it happening

– what a contrasting nightmare Gove is!

It is so great that you teach, lecture, write green specs etc. with such skill and understanding.

Like you I seldom turn down a speaking opportunity, the stranger the better, especially as I get older.

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
9th October 2013  – 16th March 2014

36 year reunion PNL PAN 1 class of ’77

Hi Nick,
How did Peter Rich affect my life?Subject: FREEDOM

Peter you were a stepping stone, a haven, a safe harbour on my journey.
You nourished me. You introduced wonderful people and ideas.
You facilitated a positive environment,
provided encouragement and hope.
Thought provoking lecturers and guests, like minded fellow students on similar paths. If that wasn’t enough, you gave us Krome!
I even have the confidence to wear a white shirt, with the top button done up but not a tie, .
You helped to set me free.
Thank you.

©Derrick Hill
18th March 2014

36 year reunion PNL PAN 1 class of ’77

How those 7 years changed my Life

Brought up by a strict, ex air force father we were not allowed to be ourselves as kids, no talking at the dining table, and were always made to feel inferior beings and so failed to develop our own voices and personalities. I was incredibly shy, easily embarrassed and could never speak out loud within family circles nor at school; strangely my siblings all say this has made us all autonomous, strong and self motivated.

I have always been an information hoarder I could have been a librarian and never come out of my shell.

I could draw and so had something to offer, I knew I wanted to draw as a career but had no idea about how and did not fancy an engineering apprenticeship. But a careers officer prompted a career with drawing at its core was Architecture.  I signed up for an ONC & HNC course whilst working in ordinary architectural offices.

I have always had an interest in the bigger picture and always looked beyond my immediate job and beyond UK published material and never had a desire to design with brick and pitch or cavity wall construction.  Working part time meant I had to create production information restricted to these normal UK constructions.  But an Architectural course would give me the freedom to experiment.

I remember being interviewed for a place at South Bank Polytechnic and being asked what was my Architectural Philosophy, well I did not have one; surely that was what I was coming to the study to learn and develop.  This was not a place for me.

I remained quiet and self conscious and so when I had a chance to do Architecture at PNL it was a way forward and out of my shell.  The interview with Peter and Robin was potentially intimidating but they liked my art and despite my shy quiet nature they gave me a chance to become somebody.

Krome Barratt opened up our communication channels and broadened our minds to design in the broadest terms; what an inspiring start to a new phase in our lives, we learned about number, rhythm, pattern, colour, engineering, maths, art, music, the senses, most importantly ‘how to fly kites’ as designers.  I wanted to have Krome’s year all over again at the end of the 7 years as a refresher.  Sadly Krome was not well enough to engage with us and within a few years he had succumbed to his pipe smoking poisons.

I guess I was never that interested in architectural philosophy, being drawn to the technical aspects of building methods, building physics and material science but found the ONC & HNC courses never engaged adequately.  This mature student Architecture course lent itself to my needs.

Yvonne Dean was an inspiration taking our focus from Mitchells books to Omnibus magazine, butterflies wings and light refraction, materials science at the cutting edge.  Yvonne passed on life skills which I promote to students today: then a card index box full of press cuttings, product information, terminology definitions; to day I encourage students to ‘jargon bust’ one term every day and today I have a 9000 term Jargon buster collection of my own, which has been read by 13,000 website visitors, I am now turning it into part of a web based encyclopedia of green construction.

Peter’s book Principles of Element Design later updated by Yvonne showed a rational mind at the peak of performance, gave order to a complex world of building performance and appropriate material choices, that today provides me with a foundation for designing new environmentally sound construction methods and adopting unfamiliar materials in new combinations. I introduce the book in all my building element lectures, that have proved to be the second most popular downloads of my 800 plus PowerPoint collection.

Today I still meet students who have been devastated by tutors who smash a students confidence and send then into a spin every week with nowhere to go but to become a clone of the tutor and turn out more of the tutor’s same; what a contrast from my own experience.

Peter and Robin were great at picking out the essence of an idea we were forming and helping to give it structure, rationale and giving us the confidence to build on it in our own way.  We were reminded that we were not in competition with each other but with ourselves and striving to get the best out of us.

One of the great things about having to present your work to your fellow students and tutors was they provided a safe place to experiment with ideas, stand and deliver short sharp presentations, to your peers without fear of rejection, providing a place to get comfortable with speaking out loud and preparing me for the next 30 years of speaking to any audience on a wide range of subjects.

Today I often tutor at universities in studio and find the tutor to student one to one sessions an indulgence permitted to the shy students where one student learns one lesson and 30 students sit and wait their turn.  I know it is wrong to cotton wool the students and right to prepare them for the real world, I always try to recreate the PNL studio sessions, I appreciated the 30 students presentations, 30 drawing styles on show, 30 architectures to appreciate, and 30 explorations in an afternoon in front of all of us so we all learned 30 lessons at every session.  Minds opened wide and sponges in action.

Florien Biegle was another inspiration a tough man to please and robust against woolly thinking and would not let you hide behind any bullshit.  He said what he meant and he expected the same in return.
No place for wallflowers.  Structural gymnastics and I were very comfortable with each other.  And communicating the whole job in one A1 drawing was a very valuable lesson in communication.

In a magazine at the time a successful architect was described as a chameleon, changing his dress code to match every one of his customers.  Robin had an amazing robust, bright, personality with a positive outlook on life, Robin reminded us to be us, have our own dress code, in his case casual, bold bright colour; Peter liked bold patterns; we are all different celebrate the differences.

Today I will never turn down a speaking opportunity on any subject related to sustainability and specification, even if I do not know the subject intimately (excluding M&E services), I know how to research, assimilate, rationalize and communicate from an Architects perspective, I will know the subject by the time I have to speak.

The technical background has lead me back to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the building design process: Specification writing, where I feel I can make the best contribution to a project’s final outcome, with sensitivity to the aspirations of the designer and the ability to contribute to the design process and their development.

Whilst I have chosen a career as a specification writer and most recently I focus on environmental issues I have developed and acquired a rational mind to deliver what I can to a bigger audience and am doing so.

After a Christmas do at Avery’s (John D and I were working there) I revealed my interest in specification writing, in our final year at PNL I was prompted by Nick Guy about the British Library wanting a spec writer, which started 7 years of writing its specifications and a 30 year career in spec writing.

We were warned at the interviews that we will grow as people and we are unlikely to be with the same partners at the end of the course; some left the course to maintain a strong relationship; I can vouch for growing as a person, still a bit quiet, but I am fearless, have all the confidence in the world and feel like I am somebody, a great place to be.

An amazing opportunity to grow, taken and made the most of.

Thanks to Peter Rich from bringing all of this together.

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianMurphy
aka BrianSpecMan
21st October 2013 – 26th March 2014

Leave a Reply