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INTERVIEW: Anthony Cozens talks to Ivy Ngeow

Anthony: How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an architect?

Ivy: I was 18 years old. I had finished my A levels. I excelled at art, mathematics and music and didn’t know how to marry the three as I was no good at the arts or the sciences per se. I knew I had to do something technical and vocational, that was my instinct. My uncle was an architect in Melbourne, Australia and influenced my decision-making to go to Uni and study Architecture. But he discouraged me as the money was sh1t and he was in debt even though he had won awards. As I was a teenager, I did not listen to his advice and did it anyway. I have now been doing it for 23 years. I have worked in the Caribbean, Singapore, Malaysia, Sydney and London.

A: What is your favourite / least favourite part of pitching a design or idea to a client?

I: My favourite part is dressing up in extremely smart clothes (hair, makeup, everything done) and rehearsing the pitch blow by blow until it is a star performance, until it is ‘pitch perfect’. Then when you get there and do the pitch, it feels like a breeze and they like you. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it, they just have to like you and the rest will fall into place. If they don’t like you, you can forget it, you won’t stand a chance, so again, we come back to ‘it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it’. The least favourite part of a pitch is dealing with clients who ask you to bring your portfolio but they don’t even look at it because they are too busy talking about their own project, so you know they are not actually interested in you despite potentially hiring you. They keep asking tons of questions after the pitch via phone or email but you still have not got the job, no contract, they just want free advice for as long as possible and they are time wasters.

A: How does it feel to see something that used to be in your head now existing in the world?

I: A sense of belonging. Though most people say pride, I say humility. Nothing is more humbling than seeing an edifice you made/created that will outlive you. You are just a speck in the timeline of space. For a few decades that you are still physically able and mentally fit, you create, and a handful of your creations would survive for maybe even more than a few centuries.

A: What is your favourite part of your job?

I: Design, assembling sample boards, making mood boards, talking concepts, meeting clients, site inspections, coffee, alcohol, product launch parties, more alcohol, the usual perks of any job.

A: What is your least favourite part of your job?

I: Invoicing, accounts, dealing with the council, red tape, protocol, forms, surveys, fire sprinkler system layouts, escape routes, airconditioning ducting, radiator size calculations, building control, English Heritage, listed buildings, sh1t pay, there are too many to list. Architecture is the least paid of any of the building industry professions, probably three pay tiers up from the bricklayer.

A: What is the worst / most annoying tiny detail you’ve had to worry over for a job?

I: There is nothing to worry about. There are a lot of deadline based projects but again, there is nothing to worry about. Just meet the deadlines. Just don’t screw up and you will sleep well. Remember there is no bad detail, just bad design.

A: What one bit of advice would you give to other architects?

I: It’s all down to the bottom line. The client and the contract are key to great design and getting paid. Get a good contract and stick to it. Get paid. Get a feel for good clients and stay with them all the way. Stay away from the bad clients.

A: If you could design any type of building, pre-existing or not, what would it be?

I: I would like to design interconnecting studio live-work pods for a meditation, creative writing, music or art centre, over a rocky beach in an isolated dramatic place with Lavazza coffee and no wifi.


Anthony Cozens (born 1978) is an English television and film actor, also known appearing in the film Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj. He was educated and trained at the Oxford School of Drama.

Ivy Ngeow is a practising architect and interior designer who has just written a book! It is called Heart of Glass. It is a modern literary thriller set in the 1980s in Chicago and Macau, cities famous for their architecture and design. Ivy is raising funds through crowdfunding for her book project. It is on week 5 of the campaign and 44% funded. Please support and help her (and her currently 74 supporters) make it happen! Heart of Glass is available for pre-order here.


My Christmas cards have arrived from the printers

Christmas Card 2017



Yay! What do you think? I am going for a Victorian Gothic theme this year. I so love gothic, or should that be Gothic with a capital G? I shall try to incorporate gargoyles in my designs in 2017. No wait. Next year, I’d like to go steampunk, please.



Caveat Emptor: Building works and the £25,000 scam Barclays did not report

scam photo from the Guardian

scam photo from the Guardian

So I read over the weekend’s cheering Mother’s Day papers the chilling story of an ordinary professional couple whose life savings of £25,000 had been stolen online in a banking transaction scam.

The government, the media, the banks, the police, God – no one will protect you. Only you can protect yourself. It’s back to the usual back-up line of Caveat Emptor.

Caveat Emptor:

the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.
This means in plain English: those who will get ripped off will get ripped off and it’s your own fault.

Building works are open to scams

Building works cost so much, usually at least four figures for the smallest silliest tasks, and that is why it is open to scams. Everybody has been ripped off, me included, especially on holiday when one’s guard is down. But this is not a case of being ripped off by a cabbie or a peddler of the wrong sandals that are non-returnable and non-refundable.


The couple received an invoice from the contractor for their rear extension. But they received another invoice identical to the first invoice saying the bank account details have changed. The couple paid as per the second invoice. Unbeknown to all, including the building contractor, the contractor had been hacked. The criminals had been tracking their every move.

The banks did nothing about it even though the account had been opened, cleaned out and shut very quickly, They must be able to trace the fraudster’s account. How can they not? It’s a question of resources. They said they will cooperate with the cops but the cops won’t do a thing about it as there are too many scams and of a much bigger scale.


like to scam individuals because they are vulnerable. A big company is hard to scam because they are insured to the eyeballs and nothing can touch them.

How you can protect yourself:

– asking for the contractor’s account and sort code yourself and writing it down.

– Pay the money in by cheque. Cheques can be stopped. There are turning points in a cheque’s lifetime because things moved at a slower space in the old days.

– Pay a small amount first, just to make sure it gets in OK, such as a pound.

– Pay only small installments. If the builder asks for 40% deposit upfront, something is wrong. Do not go for it. £25,000 was a huge deposit or installment for a rear extension. Unless it is a huge contractor, in which case, they won’t even ask for a deposit. They work a month for nothing until valuation time, they invoice and you pay that valuation.

– Sign a contract and make sure someone is there like your project manager or architect or designer to administer the contract. It needs to makes sense by protecting all parties.

– The old ways are the best. In this digital age, the opportunities are endless for a white collar criminal. But they still cannot physically get to your desk, your mind or your hands. You would have to be in a market stall for that kind of rip off to take place.

“Where’s Wheelie” Sunday Times ‘Home’ section 4.10.2015

Sunday Times Bins

Carparks, cleaner’s room, public toilets, sheds, I have done them. Though I can’t quite wheelie it – I am in the Sunday Times! Granted – for an article about bins. As a designer I have never laughed at or sniffed at any kind of commission. These are humble structures and to retain humility as a designer is a sign of total respect and integrity for your client and your project. Also, you never know what will happen or who you will meet. So yes I am proud.

The second of the four photos is my baby. However, that said, I hope the world does not think I only design bins. Yet to be fair, if I did design your bin, it will probably be the smartest damned bin in the whole world and you could probably live in it.

Home Library and Study Room Interior Design (or How the Bookish Escape)

On a winter’s night, with the fire crackling and a great book, it would be a magical place.

Spoiler alert: may contain books. If you hate books, look away now.

Click this page to see the Sherlock Holmes wood-panelled library cum study room in words and pictures.

Protected: Vineyard Hill Road – photo diary, Thursday 5 June 2014

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Protected: Wolseley Road photo diary – Friday 2 May, 2014

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Vineyard Hill Road – photo diary, Thurs 15 May 2014

Protected: Vineyard Hill Road photo diary – Thursday, 1 May and 8 May 2014

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Protected: Vineyard Hill Road photo diary Thurs 17 April and 24 April 2014

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