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Alan Hayes Davidson

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Alan Hayes Davidson
BornJuly 1960
DiedAugust 2018
OccupationArchitect, artist, Founder of Hayes Davidson
OrganizationHayes Davidson, Alan Davidson Foundation
Known forArchitectural visualisation pioneer and architect
Websitehttps://alandavidson.org/ https://www.hayesdavidson.com

Alan Hayes Davidson[edit | edit source]

Alan Hayes Davidson RIBA; (1960-2018). Architect and artist. Alan Hayes Davidson founded the architectural visualisation studio Hayes Davidson and pioneered architectural visualisation between 1989 and 1995.[1][2] He was briefly married to Elaine Scott Davidson (née Cowell) in 2016 until his death in 2018.  

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Alan Hayes Davidson was born on the 9th July 1960 to Anne Pretyman Davidson (née Hayes) (1922-2017) and Alexander Munro Davidson (1927-1978)[3]. Anne trained as a nurse and midwife before working as a flight attendant for Airwork airlines, a forerunner to BOAC. She married lawyer Alexander Munro Davidson. They married in London in 1959[4]. Alan was born in 1960, his sister Jane in 1961.   

Alan attended Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen (1965-1977). He was a keen sportsman (cricket, badminton, skiing), artist and musician. His father died in 1978 when he was age 17. Alan attended Edinburgh University from 1978 - 1984, first studying Fine Art and then Architecture.[5]

Technology[edit | edit source]

In 1979 Alan purchased a Sharp MZ80k, one of the early consumer microcomputers, the start of a lifelong interest in technology and computing. He first worked in Suva, Fiji, for his architectural ‘in practice’ year in 1982 at 'Architects Pacific'[6], a practice led by Stuart Huggett. On completing his architecture degree Alan moved to London and worked as an architect and architectural illustrator, using the Macintosh and Harvard University's 'Schema' beta software as a core part of his illustration process.

In 1989 Alan resigned his role as an architect and founded 'Hayes Davidson[7][8]. Based in London, Hayes Davidson’ was the UK's first CGI-based architectural visualisation practice.[9]

Alan was an avid reader of Marvin Minsky and Jaron Lanier, and held a firm conviction that 3D modelling and rendering were not just an aid to artists, but more importantly were an inevitable and essential part of the base camp required to lead to a fully simulated re-creation of the world around us, as well as new worlds.[10]

Alan collaborated with the 'Richard Rogers Partnership' (renamed RSHP in 2007) on major projects including Channel 4 and Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Other major architectural clients followed including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Wilkinson Eyre.[11] By 1995 HD had a team of 8 and was pioneering many different approaches to architectural CGI, including interactive illustrations, animations and touchscreen systems. HD won the CICA award for architectural illustration three years running.

21 Conduit Place[edit | edit source]

In 1997 he purchased and refurbished a warehouse building in Paddington, previously used by the musician Peter Gabriel, and, working with Toh Shimazaki Architects he created a purpose built studio for CGI-based architectural illustration.[12] He was passionate about ongoing education for artists, and a dedicated facility in the building allowed for weekly seminars, which continue to this day.[13] The team quickly grew to 25. The 5000 sq ft studio with its 10m high ceiling and 15m wide projector screen remains a grand and impressive space for clients, and for parties[14].

Hayes Davidson[edit | edit source]

The studio was commissioned to illustrate many well known and iconic London buildings before they were built or extended, including the London Eye, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Dome (now the O2), the Royal Academy, the Royal Festival Hall and the British Museum.[15] [16]The RIBA collected works by the studio in 2002 for the RIBA drawings collection[17]; some of these images were exhibited in the Architectural galleries of the V&A.

Recognised as experts in the visualisation of architecture and the built environment, the studio gained a reputation for collaborating with many of the world's top architects and designers, including Kengo Kuma, Jean Nouvel and Thomas Heatherwick on projects located around the globe[18].

Since 2000 the studio has continued to develop its CG based visualisation techniques and by 2015 had produced over 20,000 'virtual' or CGI images since it was founded. It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014.

Alan was keen that the studio published its work; by the time of his death, 2 books had been published HD: Hayes Davidson[19] and Hayes Davidson Book Two[20]. In each book, he insisted on thanking all artists past and present as he believed it was collaborative effort which together had produced the work.

Alan was passionate about London and studied the physiology and psychology of seeing the city, leading to him appearing as an expert witness at public enquiries of major London developments[21]. He rejected what he felt was the pseudo-science of the official London guidelines for the placement of large or tall buildings, instead proposing a human-centric approach based on an understanding of how we actually see, and notice, built form.[22]

Alan led Hayes Davidson's move to employee ownership in 2015.[23] The Studio operates under a distributed management system. After his diagnosis, Alan started to take a back seat role. The studio celebrates its 30th year in 2019 making it the longest running Architectural Visualisation studio in the UK, and further afield.

Motor Neurone Disease[edit | edit source]

Alan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2012. MND (Motor Neurone Disease), known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in the States, are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells which control voluntary muscles of the body[24]. A person's lifetime risk of developing MND is 1 in 300, and it affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time. On average the disease kills a third of people within a year and more than half within 2 years of diagnosis.[25]

The Alan Davidson Foundation[edit | edit source]

Alan established a charitable foundation in 2015 and committed the majority of his estate to good causes through the Foundation. The Alan Davidson Foundation supports many causes including MND research and care for those with disabling neurological conditions. By the time of his death, he had donated over £1M to good causes.[26] 

References[edit | edit source]


  1. "Architectural imagery pioneer Alan Davidson dies". Dezeen. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  2. Jessel, Ella. "CGI pioneer Alan Hayes Davidson dies, aged 58". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  3. Wailes, Martha (2018-10-12). "Alan Davidson obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  4. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  5. "Tate and Shard architect dies of motor neurone disease at 58". Evening Standard. 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  6. "Architects Pacific". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  7. "Hayes Davidson". https://www.hayesdavidson.com/. External link in |website= (help)
  8. Jessel, Ella. "CGI pioneer Alan Hayes Davidson dies, aged 58". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  9. "Architectural imagery pioneer Alan Davidson dies". Dezeen. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  10. "Tate and Shard architect dies of motor neurone disease at 58". Evening Standard. 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  11. Jessel, Ella. "CGI pioneer Alan Hayes Davidson dies, aged 58". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  12. Wailes, Martha (2018-10-12). "Alan Davidson obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  13. "Working at HD".
  14. "Hayes Davidson Parties". https://www.hayesdavidson.com/hd-parties. External link in |website= (help)
  15. "Hayes Davidson Collections".
  16. HD: Hayes Davidson. HD Group. 2002. ISBN 978-0954243104.
  17. "RIBA Library and Collections". www.architecture.com. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  18. "Hayes Davidson Clients".
  19. "ISBN 9780954243104 - HD: Hayes Davidson". isbnsearch.org. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  20. "ISBN 9780954243111". isbnsearch.org. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  21. Sutherland Lyall. "people perfect vision". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  22. Sutherland Lyall. "people perfect vision". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  23. February, 23; Clark, 2015By Tim. "Hayes Davidson becomes employee-owned practice". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  24. "Motor neuron disease", Wikipedia, 2019-04-18, retrieved 2019-05-16
  25. "Home | MND Association". MND Association. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  26. "Alan Davidson Foundation". Alan Davidson Foundation. Retrieved 2019-05-16.


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