Michael Howe is a director of 2020 Architects, based in Northern Ireland. He is a recognised expert on sustainable architecture, previously sitting on the Royal Society of Ulster Architect's Sustainability Committee and the Association of Environmental Conscious Builders and has been external critic on sustainable architecture in the highly regarded Architectural Association. While 2020 Architects are a young firm, they are one of the most exciting businesses in Northern Ireland, genuinely trying to produce both the highest quality Architecture in Ireland and pushing boundaries with all they do. They specialize in Modern Design, Sustainable Architecture, Unusual Modern Housing and Sustainable Energy. We are proud to present the designer insights of Michael Howe.
Image Credit: 1) Corten Cladding 2) Zinc 3) Timber 4) Corrugated Metal 5) Exterior stone work
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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?
Throughout every design, I aim to create beautiful architecture with a strong identity and timeless appeal. My style is a unique fusion of contemporary design with innovative techniques to create environmentally conscious architecture. I believe all designs should draw inspiration from what exists surrounding it. A building should look as though it had always existed.
2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?
First thing I do is a hand sketch. I still believe this is the fastest way to express an idea. Creativity means producing something that did not exist before and this takes time. Ultimately, the finished product must be a design that meets the needs and surpasses the expectations of the end user – be it a couple, customer or family home. No matter how you get there, or by what thought process you engage, this is the overarching goal.
3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?
Mies Vande Rohe is my ultimate legend for everything in design and architecture. Unfortunately, I never got to work with this man, but my design draws influence from his architecture. His architecture was before it’s time and even today (87 years forward) the Barcelona Pavilion has a modern, timeless element. By emphasizing open spaces and revealing the industrial material used in construction, Mies helped define modern architecture.
4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?
I love the outdoors and enjoy surfing. I’m very fortunate to live on the North Coast of Ireland overlooking Whiterocks Beach so, whether in the water or on land, this is where I draw most of my inspiration. The views, serenity and quaintness of this part of the world just allows me to immerse myself in a thought process and ideas. I also like to take time and engage with the site pre-design to see how natural elements impact it – where the sunlight reaches for instance and to ensure view optimisation.
5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
Hard work, determination and a good team behind me. I would say, don’t be afraid to express your designs in the same way an artist would theirs. Always look towards things that enable you to do your job – only better. Strive to be the best in the industry. 2020 Architects are leading the way in Ireland in terms of design-led architecture. Architecture students must first learn to draw, then gain thorough knowledge of the features and use of building materials, and finally master the fundamental principles of design and construction.