Mat Barnes


This episode’s guest is Mat Barnes, director of CAN: Critical Architecture Network in London. CAN is an architecture studio that designs buildings, environments and installations. Prior to founding CAN, Mat was an Associate at Studio 54 Architecture where he was responsible for the award-winning Peabody infill housing projects. He has been a guest critic at a number of universities including Oxford Brookes and Westminster. Recently his design of Lomax Studio project picked up a Royal Institute of British Architects  London regional award. In this interview, we talk about experiences, McDonald’s, ornament in architecture and how to make a great city. I hope you enjoy our talk.

Listen to the episode 


Transcript of the episode’s last question

*This interview was recorded in WeWork Mansion House London on April  18, 2019. The transcript has been edited and slightly condensed for clarity.

Nurgül Yardım Meriçliler (host):  Regarding the future, what are you optimistic about?

Mat Barnes (founder CAN): I’m optimistic about everything. I mean, there are a lot of things in the political sphere that you shouldn’t be optimistic about which I’m not. But generally, I think as an architect, you have to be optimistic. I’d say about 80 percent of the projects that we pitch or do, fail. So we’re more used to rejection than success. I think unless you keep your optimism then you do any work or you’ll give up.

“What I like about architecture is that you never know who the next client is going to be or where the next brief is going to and it’s never what you expect.”

Not knowing is exciting and you are hoping the big projects going to be the next one comes in. One of our main things is that you can take inspiration from all aspects of life, like low culture, high culture. And you know, working in McDonald’s when I was younger that has influenced my creative sort of ideas as much as going to visit buildings in Venice or wherever. So, I think you should embrace everything, and that will inform what you want to do.


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