After graduating from Cambridge I worked for two other architectural practices before setting up my own practice as Roger Mears Architects in May 1980. From small beginnings the practice developed, taking on increasingly varied projects.
The purchase of a derelict watermill in Wales led me to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), via their Mills Section. I attended the SPAB’s week-long repair course in 1985, which was an immensely exciting and rewarding experience, confirming my general approach to working with existing buildings and introducing me to the subtleties of conservation.
A year later I was asked to take on the repair and refurbishment of Tudor House, in Chelsea. This was a large and fascinating project, involving many different trades and materials and enabling me to develop an understanding of conservation techniques to which I had been introduced by the SPAB course.
Other historic building projects came into the practice, each generating further expertise in the field of conservation. Our workload has been varied, from country houses to London terrace houses and from churches to a reinforced concrete water tower.
My approach to any project involves developing a deep understanding of the needs of both our clients and their building. The aim is to satisfy our clients’ needs while conserving original fabric and carrying out alterations that complement the existing building, thereby giving it a new lease of life.
Having benefited from a huge amount of help from the SPAB in the early years, I stood for election to its committee in 1996 and served a total of 18 years as a Guardian. During that time I have been involved with casework for many buildings, in particular Durham, St Paul’s, St Albans and Rochester Cathedrals as well as Westminster Abbey. I was a member of the jury for the John Betjeman Memorial Award – for conservation of an element of a place of worship – for most of my time on the committee. This gave me yet more opportunities to understand and appreciate the highest standards of craftsmanship.
I am a member of the London Diocesan Advisory Committee’s Plans Group and was a member of the Georgian Group’s casework panel from 2003 until it was disbanded in 2014.
I am a trustee of two other charities: Adfer Ban a Chwm (ABC) aims to restore derelict vernacular buildings in rural Wales for use as affordable housing for local people; Youth Experience in Sport (YES), provides opportunity through sport, rowing in particular, for young people in Hackney and adjoining boroughs. I play the viola, both modern and baroque.
I have now retired from the Practice, but maintain an active role as a consultant.