Matt Hoad BA(hons) DipArch ARB RIBA
My name is Matt Hoad and I am a chartered architect but I also design and make useful things for my family and friends to explore a lifelong held passion for the natural environment and the inspiration I get from it.
My journey of making and designing
I became an architect to develop what I did naturally from a very young age, which was to explore and work with materials I had to hand. From this beginning I would use my Grandfather’s 19th century carpenters shop which had evolved out of the village wheelwright carpentry shop and forge. It was packed to the rafters with every hand tool imaginable and over the first 20 years of my life I was taught traditional craft skills and knowhow.
The best bit was watching a craftsman at work making all sorts of objects such as oak gates – which was his signature product – to furniture, toys, wheelbarrows, tools of all kinds and I wondered how he knew how to make them from little sketches or just dimensions on the back on an envelope.
I gradually became aware that the tacit knowledge behind this is handed down through experience and by seeing the work develop on the bench.
It is this early experience which has formed the basis for all my projects in one way or the other and that is why I have included a range of what I call IDEAs in this website. These essentially form a continuous experiment with materials, and ways of making objects which - through a degree and post graduate diploma in architecture - led to my qualifying as an architect. Along with road I have met some really interesting and inspirational people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for their help.
1991 A-level pneumatic table - awarded Young Engineer for Britain southern region winner and national finalist held in the NatWest Tower, London
The trouble with traditional skills is that they don’t always have relevance in a modern World but I would also not class myself as a carpenter. The relevance for me is to be able to use hand tools ‘by eye’ to develop designs or create one-off pieces. Modern tooling like advanced 3D CAD coupled with lathes, mills, DROs and more often CAD / CAM CNC is however essential but for me is com- plementary. it was the process of invention that always interested me most.
1991 > 1997 - Degree and post graduate diploma in architecture - experimenting and working in as many materials using as many tools as possible
1993 - Kingston University; Table for my student house made from old stool legs, reinforced concrete and used beer bottles
1995 - 1996 Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen; Workshops and one of the project for a City in 2020
The other aspect of growing up in the Sussex Weald that neatly dovetailed into the making was the farming and forestry and seeing the land as a working landscape. A lot of food could be produced locally and some grew wild with the seasons. There were materials like the Wealden clay, managed and coppiced timber with iron (charcoal smelted) from the iron extracted from iron rich sand stone many generations before. This was a landscape provided source of wealth and self sufficiency through the manufacturing of products from these materials.
Construction of Bill Dunster’s solar prototype house near Hampton Court (1993 - 1995).
This formed the springing point for a career in sustainable thinking and architecture.
I must also acknowledge the those that I have worked for and been taught by in my professional career as an architect. I have worked for Hopkins Architects (5 years), The Green Oak Carpentry Co. (1.5 years), Bill Dunster Architects, Zedfactory (5 years) and currently HTA Design LLP (11 years +).
I have worked on many ground breaking sustainable projects including Nottingham University’s, Jubilee Campus (the Worlds greenest at the time), traditional heavy timber framing, gridshells, the World’s first zero carbon code 6 house kit and many residential projects using the latest manufacturing technology.
A full summary is on my LinkedIn page.
Wood has always been a material of special interest and when you grow up working it from the woods in which you walk you see the cycles of growth and the wildlife that lives there. I love forests and it is the wood we use that provides the connection back to these places no matter from where they come in the World. I have also travelled across Canada as part of a British Delegation to look at how the forests are managed and have visited forests wherever I have travelled to from Cuba to China. The products that people produce from local woods are fascinating but given the accelerating destruction of these vital habitats their protection is now critical. We must use sustainably sourced materials and wood in particular must be certified by the FSC or FLEGT scheme for example and we must wherever possible give back more to the environment that we take which brings me onto regenerative design as the way forward.