Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield.

Simon Allford: RIBA President, and founder partner AHMM Architects

I am an architect, born to an architect father.  I grew up with him, my mother and three sisters in what I later realised was a very architectural district of London.  So somewhat inevitably, like Dr Johnson, I have never been bored of London or life.

Except that is, when in the late 1970s in a Cricklewood Comprehensive, I was being force-fed a diet of Maths, History and English. My escape was sport and drinking. Having consequently failed to make the grade as footballer and academic I escaped to The North. To Yorkshire. To Sheffield.  

There I rediscovered my love of playing the beautiful game. There I made lifelong friends. There I developed a passion for architecture, for all it could do for the world, and for the fact that it offered me an escape forever from boredom. But most importantly I could finally spend more time at a special place, a shrine that I had only visited a few times, but that was part of family folklore.

It features in Pevsner’s volumes. It is the original suburban development. It is architecture and engineering. It is backdrop and foreground. It is memorable and it is aged. It is a noisy witness to both the daily drudgery and the exquisite, and too often painful, drama of ordinary lives. Defining both the limits of architecture and where life takes over.  It remains to this day the most awe-inspiring theatre for everyday life. My place is Hillsborough Football Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club!