Greg Peñate

Greg Peñate

At his home in London, U.K.

Greg leans on his kitchen countertop of his London flat as we talk through the steps that led him to becoming an architect. During childhood he showed interest in building forts with chairs and hammocks on the beach of Las Canteras in Las Palmas, way down south on the island of Gran Canaria, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, and hundreds of miles away from the daily grind in gloomy London. Spending most of his holidays there - and from where his father Luis's family originated - has given Greg such a profound understanding of the local culture, and an unpretentious Spanish approach to life and his roots. The balance between the more relaxed world, and the disciplines inherited from his French mother Martine's family, have given him the best of both worlds. Greg’s aunt was a professional ballet dancer in France too, and he inevitably absorbed a certain artistic flair from the hard work which that career expounded.

The Canary Islands lured him into surf culture, and subsequently he began to skate around the streets of The Hague in The Netherlands, where his parents live. The Dutch urban landscapes offered up different surface materials on which to play with his skateboard, and made him think about different construction methods in the process. All this kept him dreaming about designing his own buildings in the future, and convinced him to study architecture at college. So, years after attending boarding school in England, he decided to remain there, and enroll at university to become an architect.

Greg has always kept a clear focus, even when he struggled through the worst years of the 2008 recession, which kept him out of steady work in London after graduating. But the hardship just helped to fuel his passion for architecture, and a determination to succeed even more. Over the years, Greg has been lucky enough to work in architectural studios such as Mansilla y Tuñon (a museum project throughout Spain including MUSAC and MUSEU), Colman Architects (commercial projects designing offices and retail spaces in London), Stuart Forbes Associates (private residential projects in Barnes and Chelsea), and Hugh Broughton Architects (museums and cultural projects in London & UK), where he still works. This year alone, the young architect and his projects have received a Riba Awards (four regional awards  and one national award).

As an architect, Greg is determined and hugely creative, but he also develops interesting artistic projects during his own time, painting aquatic color compositions on reclaimed pieces of wood, which he finds washed ashore on his surf outings. These pieces decorate his flat in London. Tastefully remodeled over the years, the space has become home for him and girlfriend Rebecca. Every artifact in the flat has a story, from the record player to the wetsuits and nautical objects hanging in the bathroom. This creative couple have managed to keep their craftsman-like hands at work in between busy work schedules. Rebecca, an expert marketing consultant, makes hats in her spare time.

Greg's beginnings were not easy, as is rather common in the world of architecture, but he has learnt from past experience that nothing is permanent, that he can only ever keep learning, and that in the future, he would love to open his own studio. This would realize his long held dream of overseeing the design and construction of his own projects, while allowing him to indulge in a life by the sea with his partner Rebecca.