Andrew Hayward may think that comparing him with the Roman god Janus is absurd, but I think he’ll forgive me.
Janus, usually depicted with one face that looks to the future and another that faces the past, was the God of gates and doors, of beginnings and endings.
Andrew is dedicated to saving old buildings for posterity, but is committed to using his architectural skills to ensure that new ones will stand the test of time.
The partner at Lichfield-based Brownhill Hayward and Brown is a multi-award winning architect who has used sensitivity and artistry to ensure that some of the nation’s most treasured buildings will be enjoyed for generations to come.
But he is also keeping a close eye on the future by designing stunning schools, houses and even warehouses that encompass green technology and promise longevity.
The past and future combine in the present.
We meet at the 30-strong practice, which is housed in a delightfully elegant Georgian building in Bird Street, in the heart of Lichfield’s ancient city centre.
Sitting in a first-floor meeting room, which he describes as having “lovely proportions”, it certainly has the air of formal Georgian elegance with its three large sash windows and original shutters. The original cornice has also been painstakingly renovated by a member of staff, who removed layer after layer of paint to reveal an intricate pattern of flowers.
History plays a vital role in this practice. As specialists in the repair, alteration and extension of historic buildings – particularly churches – it has rapidly gained a reputation for its conservation work which now accounts for over half of its projects.
These also include educational facilities and commercial projects, particularly those for challenging, multi-use sites.
The practice acts as church architects to over 300 churches throughout the region advising on restoration, repairs, reordering and new build schemes.
These churches are located within the Church of England dioceses of Birmingham, Lichfield, Coventry and Leicester, and the Roman Catholic dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff and East Anglia.
The practice has completed work with grant-finding bodies such as English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Architectural Heritage Fund and is on the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Architects Accredited in Building Conservation register.
“I’ve always been interested in art and architecture,” he says, as he sips coffee. “My parents used to drag me around National Trust properties when I was younger, so something must have rubbed off on me.
“I’ve always been creative and cannot imagine doing anything that isn’t artistic. My interest in architecture developed as I grew, but it was something I knew I wanted to pursue.”
The former pupil of Blue Coat School, Walsall, studied at the prestigious Birmingham School of Architecture after attaining A-levels in maths, geology and art: the perfect subjects for anyone with an interest in designing buildings.
“Geology turned out to be very relevant. When I look at a building constructed from stone I know if it’s sedimentary, sandstone, limestone or whatever,” he says. “Because there is so much science in conservation, it has helped with looking at how the elements react with different stones, how the acids in the rain or lead can react with them.”
Such knowledge within the practice was undoubtedly crucial when it came to working on repairs at the impressive Highclere Castle in Berkshire and Clifton Hall, Clifton Campville, for which it won a Georgian Group Award for the rescue of a Georgian house at risk.
The walls of the practice’s reception area are adorned with framed certificates that recognise the work the team is doing not only to conserve old buildings but honour the quality of work for its new designs.
There is a RIBA honour for its work at The Crown Inn, Playhatch, Henley on Thames; a Local Building Authority Built In Quality Award for its design of the Asda superstore in St Matthew’s Quarter, Walsall; a Southern Staffordshire Design Award for its conversion of the 12th century St Thomas’s Priory in Baswich, North Staffordshire; another for its design of the extension to the Police Mutual Assurance Society HQ in Lichfield.
Awards are highly prized, of course, but nothing beats a job well done for West Bromwich Albion-supporting Andrew, a keen angler and member of Lichfield Lawn Tennis Club.
One project that he is particularly pleased with is the ongoing restoration of the Bethesda Chapel, in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
The grade II* listed chapel, which was built in 1819, was bought by the Historic Chapels Trust in 2002 with the intention of returning the place of worship to its former glory.
The project featured – and was a runner-up – in the first series of Restoration in 2003, the BBC2 show hosted by Griff Rhys Jones in which viewers voted for one historic building to win a pot of cash for its renovation.
Andrew is also proud of the work at the Grade II* listed St Mary’s Church, Canwell, near Sutton Coldfield, in which he designed a modern-looking hall to complement the Arts & Crafts styled church.
“That was a lovely project,” explains the married father-of-four. “It was very rewarding because the solution was very simple but it just worked well. There is such a sense of satisfaction in completing projects such as these because there is an opportunity to provide something that future generations will appreciate.
“Each project is a reaction to that particular style of architecture and a response to the particular environment it is in. We have to look at each one on its own merits and come up with something that will work for that one place.
“You cannot design something that will fit into more than place. Every time you add to an historic building, it has to be a good neighbour.”
But even historic buildings can be brought into the 21st century, he says.
A perfect example is the recently completed New Heights Community Project in Kingstanding, Birmingham.
Adjacent to Christ the King Catholic Church in Warren Farm Road, the £545,000 building has been designed to meet the highest levels of sustainability. It incorporates such technology as photovoltaics, which converts sun rays into electricity, ground source heat pumps and solar panels.
“Lots of clients want to be seen to be green, but here it was fundamental to the project, which made it a very exciting one to work on,” he enthuses.
“It is an incredible community centre and it was wonderful to be able to deliver such a design like this that encompasses such new technology.”
Andrew, whose architectural heroes include the master of modern architecture IM Pei, is also poised to begin work on a £1.5 million eco community centre in Stoke-on-Trent, another design that will see him including some of the latest high-tech developments.
And he is keen to harness environmental features.
“Green issues are having an enormous impact in the way that architects work. Sustainability is key to any project,” he says.
“Some green technology is still very expensive and there is a commercial reality to all of this: it has to be deliverable and possible to do within the budget.
“We are seeing some companies going above and beyond what is currently required in terms of incorporating green technology, but others are struggling with it.
“The Government is driving it and further changes to the regulations in April and October of this year will result in a greater use of sustainable building materials and technologies incorporated into our designs.
“The designer is the most important architectural tool there is. It is all about taking very seriously the quality in the building environment. Whether it is restoring an old building or designing something brand new, conservation is vital.”