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HOW PATRICK BRADLEY BECAME GRAND DESIGNS’ MOST POPULAR ARCHITECT

After his Grand Designs showstopper, Patrick Bradley became one of the most sought-after architects in Ireland – now, he’s arrived in Chelsea

Bradley and McAleenan Architects is a RIBA, multi-award winning design led practice creating architecture throughout the UK and Ireland, set up by Patrick Bradley – one of the most sought after architects of the moment – and his friend, Bernard McAleenan.

Personality is perhaps at the centre of Bradley’s success – he oozes charisma. Of course, he is extremely talented in the field of architecture and design, but it is his enthusiasm and personable nature that clients really seem drawn to.

‘I think once clients engage with us, they truly see our passion. They tell me the way that they live and what they love, from their morning coffees to much more specific things that I couldn’t tell you, but would really give you a giggle,’ laughs Bradley. ‘That’s how we work – I get to the bottom of what people really want. The spaces that we design; they make people happier.

‘The way architects work over here is different to Ireland, as we work in more detail, with a closer relationship to the client and much more of a relationship with the cost,’ says Bradley. ‘So that’s why 90% of our projects are realised, whereas 80% of projects over here aren’t realised.’

The project that catapulted Bradley into the limelight was the building of his own home, a project that ultimately led to Grand Designs winning a BAFTA – that particular episode was the most watched in the programme’s history.

I ended up designing my shipping container house and someone told me to apply to Grand Designs. I was just working out of my father’s garage but I was like “aye, of course I can do it”!

‘I had land back home from my father and I started designing my house. I wanted something that was easy to live in, easy time wise, easily constructed and good budget, but something that was completely radical to where I’m from,’ says Bradley. ‘I ended up designing my shipping container house and someone told me to apply to Grand Designs. I was just working out of my father’s garage at the time.’

The team at Channel 4 contacted Bradley and were surprised by his design, the timescale and his confidence in pulling it off. Bradley, on the other hand, knew he could do it – after all, it’s his job and he’s a professional. ‘I was like “aye, of course I can do it”,’ he says. ‘They came over and said: “You’re a crazy person and we love you”!’

Chelsea is a home from home for us. We know everyone around here now

They started filming on 13 December and it was finished in 10-12 weeks – Bradley had eliminated all the problems before he started. It was the one episode of Grand Designs where there hadn’t been a problem. ‘It went to TV and things went loopy – I had 70,000 emails from all over the world, my email and my phone crashed,’ he says. ‘I had my mobile and website, but it wasn’t enough for the traffic.’

So what inspired Bradley to set up a practice in Chelsea? ‘Once my name had taken off, this option came up,’ says Bradley. ‘I took a look at the office and we thought this could work. A lot of architects are very specific with what they do, but I think that’s lazy. We are in a scenario where we want to keep expanding and developing what we can do, and this is something that I want to bring to people here.

‘Bernard has a great background in commercial. We’ve both worked on stadiums and some of the most listed buildings in the country,’ he continues. ‘We’re young for architects yet we’ve both had the opportunity to work with some incredible clients. Whether it’s because we are lucky or because we work so hard, I don’t know.’

Bradley tells me how they have been here for six months now and that they love the area. ‘The people are so friendly and it’s a home from home for us. I find it strange that you often hear about London being a lonely city, as it hasn’t been that way for us – we know everyone around here now! It’s a disaster sometimes because people pop in for a chat all the time,’ he laughs. ‘Sometimes I have to pretend I’m not here!’

Making it work on both sides of the water is down to organisation. ‘I’m OCD about everything,’ he says. ‘If you ask me about an email, I can tell you where it is in a second. So time wise, it’s all working and I’m just dividing my time between here and home. It’s a challenge for us though, don’t get me wrong!’


 

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