Drawing, design and building beautiful homes with George Clarke

Primary Times talks all things houses and homes with architect, writer, and television presenter George Clarke, following the release of his new children’s book ‘How to Build a Home’

As perhaps one of Britain’s most successful architectural TV presenters, George is hugely passionate about the ways in which architecture, design and technology can be beneficial for both us and the environment.

Seeking to channel children’s inner curiosity and creativity, George’s new and exciting title for ages 6-9 is a non-fiction journey that explores the stories behind our homes. With bright and eye-catching artwork, ‘How to Build a Home’ looks at marvellous materials and future tech to engage both children and adults alike. We spoke with George to get his thoughts on being an architect and on the book itself…

What would you say is your dream home?
An ecological Georgian House. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like a Georgian house. High ceilings, tall windows, lots of natural light, very simple classical detailing, beautifully proportioned rooms. There is no denying that the Georgians knew what they were doing when it came to beautiful homes.

Do you think that lots of children are curious about houses and homes?
I know they are. I have an educational charity called MOBIE and we work with lots of primary and secondary school children on home design challenges and workshops. Being able to inspire young children to want to create better quality, more beautiful, net-zero carbon homes is a privilege, and when you give kids the opportunity to explore their curiosity, the results can be truly amazing.

How have you found the process of writing this children’s book and have you enjoyed the experience?
I absolutely loved it. The biggest challenge was putting my mind into the same headspace as a 6-9-year-old. I was 6 in 1980 and a lot has changed since then! You have to find the right balance of making the book informative, educational and inspirational, but also a lot of fun. Luckily, I’m often just a big kid and I always say the best architecture makes you smile and lifts your spirits. I hope the book does the same.

Given your background as an architect, was it important to you that the drawings and illustrations are just right?
Absolutely! I’m obsessed by drawing. If anything, my passion for sketching and drawing led to my passions for architecture and design. The drawings came first. Obviously with doing a kids’ book like ‘How To Build A Home’ the illustrations can say so much more than the words do. Robert Sae-Heng did the illustrations and he is such a talent. Also, he can draw people much better than I can!

What advice would you give to children and families out there with a keen interest in architecture, buildings, or in art and design?
Really look at the built environment around you. Training to be an architect really made me ‘see’ the world and understand why things were designed and built in a certain way. Never stop looking, never stop asking questions and let your imagination run wild. Also, take lots of picture of houses that you like and don’t like. Keep a sketch book to constantly draw, redraw, imagine and reimagine what your dream home might look like.

Do you have any future children’s book ideas in mind or any other projects in the works for families to look out for?
I’ve got too many ideas in mind for future kids’ books and I’d love to write another one soon. I’ve got a brand-new series of ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ coming out on Channel 4 very soon, so keep an eye out for that.


Little Experts: How to Build a Home by George Clarke, illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng, published by Red Shed.

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