Chris has always been inspired by new ideas, with a career defined by creative innovation. Highlights include pioneering work on living walls, ground-breaking naturally filtered pools, and a recent collaboration with the University of Birmingham exploring the potential of plant species to reduce pollution.
This is an approach that goes beyond aesthetics, harnessing the transformative qualities of nature, and combining them with sensitive, intelligent design. It’s a philosophy refined over more than thirty years in practice – first while leading the landscape group within an architectural firm, and then at Churchman’s, which he founded in 1993.
But the real roots of inspiration can be traced back to Chris’ university year out, spent working for a contractor ‘on the spade’. Exposed to the shifting seasons, Chris got a real feel for the natural forces that have shaped his work ever since – the warmth of the winter sun in a walled garden, the vivid splash of colour of a showy winter shrub. Working directly with nature left a strong sense that design isn’t static, but an evolving process of reinterpretation – which is why Chris can often be found on site during construction, spirit level and sketchbook in hand.
This unique approach has won considerable acclaim – in the award-winning redesign of the University of Birmingham, with its impeccable sustainable credentials, and in the far-sighted design for South Gardens in London, which won the prestigious Landscape Institute’s Presidents’ award. Other landmark projects include the Sammy Ofer Wing at the National Maritime Museum – now a much-loved civic space - and the Millennium Seedbank and Tower of London, created in collaboration with Stanton Williams.
For Chris the ever-changing panoramas of our countryside are an endless source of delight. He is fascinated by the interplay of light and shade in nature, taking inspiration from the likes of James Turrell, Constable and Turner. When not at his computer, Chris can usually be found immersed in his garden or trekking across expansive moorland landscapes.