Sir James Dyson remembers Tony Hunt (1932-2022)
Sir James Dyson remembering Tony Hunt - the structural engineer behind world renowned spaces - who died on 16th August 2022.
"Tony Hunt will be remembered for all he taught us about structure defining architecture. Historically, buildings were represented by concrete and brick facades conceived by architects, but today it is the Structural Engineer who is responsible, and Tony was at the forefront of this movement. His work with Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Chris Wilkinson was defining; the sinewy structure of the blue Waterloo Station is one of Tony’s most obvious creations, the Dyson wavy roof building in Malmesbury is another.
Tony did more than anyone to turn me on to engineering and to make the connection between design, engineering, art and science. His teaching, at the Royal College of Art, of Buckminster Fuller opened my eyes as to what was structurally possible and to just how exciting pure structure and design engineering could be. I could see structural engineering would come to dominate architecture – it felt pioneering. I could also see that this shift could be true of products too, that their technology and engineering would become more important than industrial design casings.
Tony was a great innovator and was as passionate about the aesthetics of structures as he was about how they worked and were made. Concept came before calculation and he deployed exciting new ways of creating structures, designing buildings that could be imagined, invented and then worked out with maths, log tables, slide rules and, increasingly from the 1960s, with computers. He worked with Norman Foster and Richard Rogers on radical early hi-tech buildings like the Reliance Controls factory and office in Swindon.
For our own part, about two years after the launch of DC01, when Dyson was turning a profit and expanding rapidly, we desperately needed a new factory. I wanted to build one that reflected our thinking and values so, naturally, I got in touch with Tony who, by now, had worked with Britain’s pioneering hi-tech architects. I wanted him to help us to fuse engineering and architecture in a seamless fashion. Tony recommended three architects to help design the new Dyson factory and I chose to work with Chris Wilkinson who went on to develop our whole Campus in Malmesbury, while Tony designed the structure for the wavy roofed building which defines it.
Those of us who were taught by Tony will remember not his lectures, though his explanations through his mesmeric sketching made engineering seem simple, but the way he took time to understand the intention of our cack-handed designs and enthusiastically brought sense to them. He became an artist on retirement which speaks volumes about his design credentials and his view of engineering as being art. His many structures stand as testament to all that he achieved. He will be greatly missed."