He spent many weeks re-acquainting himself with London’s rich architectural heritage, on foot and through online research. The relative quietness of the city was an opportunity to really appreciate its architectural and urban qualities. Having already organized architectural events through his “meet-up” group, he wondered if he could turn his hobby into a business. This was the catalyst to establish his new business, Seeing Architecture.
By investigating available walking tours in London, he found a multitude of options. However, the majority focus on the famous London sights as well as London’s rich social and political history, its royalty and notable characters. As an architect, he decided that the focus of Seeing Architecture’s tours should be what inspires him - why and how buildings are built. His market research shows a real demand for that among London residents and visitors. Open House Weekend, for example, attracted 250,000 participants in 2019.
He is familiar with the fascinating tours offers by The Architecture Foundation, New London Architecture and the RIBA. Generally, these are one-off tours of particular buildings or neighborhoods, often by the building’s architect or an academic expert. Rather than compete with these, he offers scheduled tours that will complement their special events, and he hopes to find ways to collaborate with these organizations, and others, in the future.
The name, Seeing Architecture, is straightforward and clearly indicates the brand. Seeing means looking but also means understanding. The name is also intentionally open to interpretation, keeping the business adaptable and agile in an unpredictable future. The four tours he has designed so far concentrate on specific neighborhoods, but with clear narratives or typology themes.
The stringent, statutory restrictions to deal with Covid-19 have been challenging. Nonetheless, this has given him time to develop the website, research the walks, and undertake some initial tours. London looks particularly beautiful when traffic and pedestrian activity is light and people have been eager to undertake social activity outdoors, albeit within the guidelines.
With the lockdown measures easing, Ross will be commencing Seeing Architecture small group tours and private tours again from April that can be booked now, with a maximum of five participants initially.