Robbie Kerr interviewed by Chinese publication ‘Wealth Management’

June 17, 2022

Robbie Kerr was featured in The Wealth Management Magazine (June 2022), a leading financial magazine in China that is well-read by Chinese investors, senior business leaders, and HNWIs.

Click to read the article in Chinese.  Below is a translation:

Legacy and Restoration: The Rebirth of Classical Architecture

Classical architecture plays an important role in the history of architecture in the world, not only has the research value but also has immeasurable artistry. Classical architecture is a language that has evolved for more than 2000 years. Classical architecture is derived from a set of simple rules, based on proportion, composition and symmetry that when handled skillfully and articulately can be applied to buildings of every scale and use. As the largest practice in the world that specialises in Classical and traditional architecture, ADAM Architecture is also the leader in the field of large-scale contextual urbanism.

Robbie Kerr, the director of ADAM Architecture, grew up in Hong Kong and studied in Edinburgh, Oxford and London before joining ADAM Architecture. He became the youngest Director ever in 2016 and has since been growing a portfolio of work that expresses his desire to integrate the cultures that surround his projects, wherever they are in the world, with the timeless principles of Classical and traditional architecture. Robbie said, “Whether it is a Rolls Royce or an ADAM Architecture building, I hope that there is an elegance and bespoke beauty that is tailored to each client.”

Why did you choose the field of classical architectural restoration?

There are many buildings that were conceived in this tradition of architecture. If they are to continue to evolve and find new use, and therefore be restored, this needs to be done by those that understand the rules that created these wonderful buildings so that the buildings can be restored and reinvigorated with renewed life.

As the leading practice specialising in Classic and Traditional architecture, what kind of work do you do for the building restoration? How is it different from other architectural projects?

Working with traditional and classical approaches to architecture is not widely taught at university and therefore in modern practice we are very much a leader. Our buildings respect culture, embrace tradition, respond to climate and adapt for the future. They are inherently sustainable. Our work is involved with projects from bringing new life to old towns to restoring the interiors of important buildings. Our work embraces the history and trys to promote the work that has formed the basis of the creation of the buildings.

What kind of challenges you often encounter during work?

Often a lack of knowledge that there are practices that can do modern classical and traditional architecture is the biggest challenge. Adapting modern knowledge to centuries old traditions can be difficult but that is where there is real excitement as well.

How to balance the relationship between architecture and environmental protection?

As I have mentioned above, our work inherently is prepared to restore buildings and find new uses. By working with the fabric of a building we find new uses that allows these buildings to continue to be used for many more years. Our approach to architecture starts with an understanding of the people that use them, of how they use them, of the environment that they live in, and is not just drive by aesthetic intent. We therefore have environmental protection at the heart of what we do.

What kind of projects have ADAM Architecture done? Could you share one project you are most proud of?

My world of work is full of projects I am proud of. Some are complete, some are just competitions. I recently was a finalist for a scheme in Hong Kong that was able to explore how modern Classical architecture might adapt to the challenges of commercial and climatic pressures. I have recently finished 4 new super high-end houses in central London in a mews street. These maximise the limited space to deliver exceptional value for my client while fitting seamlessly into the surrounding context. I am working with my colleagues on a new extension to a town in the south of England for the Duchy of Cornwall that is leading the way in holistic urban planning.

Does ADAM have any projects in China?

I have designed a house in Shenzhen for a private client. I am sorry that I cannot share more details on this but often my clients have understandable demands of privacy. I have completed the competition mentioned above. I have designed a new house in mid levels in Hong Kong as well. I was recently asked to look at a new town near Hangzhou as well and keep fingers crossed that this might develop into a new project.

What’s your opinion on the classical architecture market in China?

It will never be the case that this approach to architecture will be the dominant force but there is always room for variety. Whether it is for clients that want to do something different from everyone else (without just making crazy shapes of their buildings), or who have an amazing Classical building that needs restoring, or just wants to explore the incredibly rich traditions in China, there will be opportunities and thank you for this opportunity to present ourselves as such an option.