I was really saddened to hear last week that George Finch, one of Utopia London’s architects, had died. One of the nicest unintended consequences of making the film was to become friends with so many of the contributors; and it was a real delight to get to know George and his partner of 47 years Kate Macintosh. George was wonderful company, filled with a love for his fellow humans, and a curiosity about almost everything. He once told me that once you are an architect you can never stop looking at the world as an architect, yet equally he seemed to be always learning about some new perspective on things - art, theatre, sustainability, politics. He was a real example of how learning should be a life long joy.
It was nice to see that in the last few years of his life, George got to see his work appreciated by a new generation. These ranged from architects and design obsessives, to the people who really interacted with his work; living in “his” housing, seeing their GPs in the surgeries he designed, and playing sport in Brixton Rec. I’m sure they too would have appreciated the twinkle in George’s eyes as he told me that to design the Rec he had played games in leisure centres around Britain to understand exactly how good architecture could enhance their fun.
As we stood inside the building that I think is his masterpiece, Lambeth Towers, George summed up the vision that ran through all his work:
“I designed for everybody you know - this is the sort of house or flat I would like to live in. Everybody’s important. Ok they may be lower paid, but… all these people are very important to society”.
My thoughts are with Kate and the rest of George’s family.