Bespoke architecture, where dreams come true
At the age of four, a young John Wilson came to live in Portugal with his Scottish father and Portuguese mother. He fit in immediately and adored the freedom and lifestyle here. Now, 40 years on, we meet with the local Architect and owner of Bespoke to find out a bit more about him and his practice.
In a bright, open-plan office at the end of Rua do Barranco, you’ll find a young team of architects busily working on their projects under John’s guidance. Having studied in London and attaining his degree in his early 20s, he is passionate about his chosen path and keen to show the ropes to his team. His formative years as a young architect were rather intense when he was head architect for the Oceânico group. This position was somewhat a baptism of fire as it was in the period that the group were designing Amendoeira & Belmar Spa. John worked closely with the team creating the Faldo and O’Connor courses, liaising with everyone involved from marketing, construction and even sales. All this whilst completing his Master’s degree, so as you can imagine, he was more than ready when he began to put plans in action to open his own business. In 2011, John opened his doors to the public, and within one year he had employed his first full-time architect.
With his portfolio steadily growing and word getting around, it wasn’t long before the office was full of young, eager talent who all brought with them their own creativity and unique styles to complement each other. Now with a team of six full-time architects, a group of engineers, civil engineers and landscape architects, Bespoke is taking on some inspiring projects. “We fully understand that we are often creating clients dream homes and always take their vision on-board when preparing our designs” says John. “We’ve implemented a wonderful programme that allows us to visualise the projects in 3D, so the clients get a real feel for every angle and aspect.” Exciting new technology and keeping up to date with sustainable trends are paramount to the company’s development. The portfolio is incredible, and they are repeatedly approached by clients with out-of-this-world ideas. Unlike many studios, Bespoke doesn’t have a particular style; what they have is the ability to sit with their clients and listen, visualising what they want but also what they need. “Our current portfolio is diverse, no one wants the same thing. We’ve got some ultra-contemporary homes, traditional classic Algarve style villas and holiday complexes and everything in between,” John explains. “What every project does have in common, though, is that when we are in the planning stages, we always apply functionality and take the sun orientation into account.”
That’s why it’s essential to sit with an architect who listens but also has experience in their field. They need to be able to guide you to the best possible solution of your vision. Many people really want to be part of the process, and Bespoke welcomes that. It’s crucial to create their vision whilst being satisfied that everything has been done to a high standard and adhering to building regulations. “We can’t forget what the purpose of a building is. It must be comfortable, accessible and functional,” John says. “The windows have to be in the right position to maximise the location while ensuring privacy. We try to place the bedrooms in a south-facing direction wherever possible to utilise natural heating and light. Sustainability is a given, we have so much technology available to us now that it should always be applied.”
John and his team are professional, innovative, hard-working, ethical and humble yet with drive and ambition. Bespoke means tailor-made, and that’s precisely what they do. As a parting comment, John told us: “Part of the ethos of our company is to provide a truly tailor-made solution, a bespoke service. So we seek to incorporate design features that go beyond conventional architectural vocabulary, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. We are a conscientious, professional and flexible team, capable of building the dreams of clients whilst working in harmony with the natural environment. Each project undertaken by Bespoke includes a detailed brief and budget, which is agreed by the client and set out at the design stage of the project.”
Finding the right people to do a job is hard enough in your native country and language let alone when you’re in the Algarve. Being fully bilingual and an honorary Portuguese, John is a family man from Carvoeiro, who goes beyond job title and puts himself into everything he does. His support for the local football team, Carvoeiro United, is just another testament to the man behind the company.