MacEwen Awards, two projects longlisted

We are absolutely delighted, honoured and speechless to announce that we have two projects in the 25 schemes long listed in the, RIBA Journal MacEwen Award 2022. The awards celebrate architecture for the common good, highlighting the projects where design has successfully been applied for the good many across society.

The St Margaret’s church renovation and reimagination project has been longlisted in the Community Endeavours category, Bedford Place public realm project has been longlisted in the Urban and Rural Revitalisation category. The full list of all projects longlisted can be found here

We are so delighted to have these modest projects highlighted in these prestigious awards, they would not have been possible without our amazing clients and collaborators, thank you to all the teams involved.

The shortlist will be announced early next year.

Judging The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards

This year’s The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards was announced last week, once again I was honoured to be a judge of the latest self-build, renovations, extensions and conversions. I have always really enjoy being part of the process of these awards, showcasing the best UK self-build projects, push the most innovative ideas forward.

Patch House, designed by Levitate Architects really resonated with me for its sustainability approach. This is a house fit for our challenging times, addressing climate change through harnessing renewable energy technologies, it’s designed to enhance the site context and landscape, including the natural swimming pond that sits to one end of the two storey volumes. The house was designed with a fabric-first approach, meaning the property does not require heating for at least 70% of the year.

I was also amazed by Bailey Street, the winner of the Best Renovation of a Cottage category. With a budget of just £65,000, the owner took on the design work themselves and have delivered a bright and welcoming home. This renovation exemplifies everything there is to appreciate about delivering your own personal refurbishment project; it shows just what’s possible with a modest budget, energy, passion and creative endeavour.

The full list of winners can be found here


Forbes magazine quote Studio BAD

We were delighted to get a mention in Forbes this week, the prestigious business magazine, in an article ‘Architects Seek to Design both Building and their Business’ by journalist Jeffery Steele looking at the changing face of architectural businesses.

The article highlights the changes to the design business, changes which were underway but has been accelerated with the impact of Covid. During the past 18 months many practices have seen a downturn in revenue and workload, Rion Willard sums it up perfectly ‘The architect can no longer reply on past methodology to survive in a post-Covid world. New education, entrepreneurial and business thinking will unlock new pathways for architects to venture powerfully.’

This fits within our belief at Studio BAD, that architecture can now take many forms, it is not just about designing buildings but can look at so many aspects of the design business, as quoted “There’s a notion that we have to follow this kind of traditional method of designing, delivering and building businesses, I think moving forward, there are other methods of being creative.”

The article comes after a conversation we had with Rion Willard, for the Business of Architecture podcast, looking at The Business of Listening which you can find more details on here.

The full Forbes article can be found here.

St Margaret’s Church photos

We had St Margaret’s church photographed by the hugely talented Richard Chivers and are delighted with the images, they really show the essence of this project.

It has been an amazingly collaborative project to work on and we could not have been prouder to have been part of the journey and see the rebirth of the church. We have been working together with the Francis and the team at St Margaret’s Church (or Maggie’s as we affectionately call her) for several years now. When we first started the physical church had been condemned, in desperate need of repair and without any heating. Phase 1 (insert link) of the reimagination of the church has delivered a warm, usable space which is now once again a focal point of the local community.

We are particularly pleased with the Sunday School door, a beautiful birch door that creates a private area off the main nave. The solid wooden door has irregular, glazed cut outs, the design is a reflection of the churches ethos to welcome all, letting the light out into the community, accepting all.

Phase 2, yet to be started, will look at installing a new copper clad porch, to create a warm and inviting entrance that activates the public realm.


Community Retrofits Webinar

We were delighted to be invited to deliver a talk for MESH Energy on the topic of ‘Community Retrofits’. As social architects this is an area we feel very passionately about. As a practice we are interested in work that is for the good of the people and planet, and are especially drawn to schemes which don’t involve demolition. In this talk we discuss a selection of our community retrofits, from a refurbished church to a reimagined high street.

Our largest scale retrofit project we have delivered is St Margaret’s church in Portsmouth. The church had been previously condemned, due to the roof, and the congregation were using a town hall nearby, leaving the beautiful church building to decay.

At the very start of the project, we engaged with the community to listen to what they really needed from the project, rather than going in with plans that might not fit their needs. Through this collaborative approach we have delivered the original church back to the community, a light and bright space with modern heating, community space for a variety of needs (such as a food bank, children’s play area and second-hand clothes store) and additional washroom facilities.

It is humbling to think what a positive impact we have had on the city, if the church had been left to rot just think how worse off the community would have been. A refit project may not always be easy but it is so worthwhile, to see the impact this has had on the city.

In Bedford Place in Southampton, we reimagined the urban realm following the road closures, in connection to Covid measurements. Our proposal looked at cost effective strategies to activate and animate the area, looking at opportunities around the road closure which could benefit all in the community. This was a very emotive topic, with so many stakeholders involved, and our countries reliance on personal cars, it was always going to be difficult. Instead of getting entangled in that argument, we changed the conversation focus and talked about the 15-minute city, this allowed us to circumnavigate those initial resistances.

The project has been a massive success, hospitality in the area has not just survived over this difficult time, but thrived. The area of Carlton Terrace has even set up a working group, looking to make the area of Carlton Terrace permanently closed to traffic.  This project has proved what a positive change we can make to the existing conditions of the urban realm, through small changes it is possible to still have a beneficial influence on society.

As a design practice we fundamentally believe that each project can have a positive impact to the built environment, this is not just something we give lip service to, we want to make real change.

You can find the full talk for free on the MeshWorks platform, a low-energy and sustainable building design community portal, we hope you enjoy it and it can inspire you to make a positive change.

Planning hat-trick

We finished last week with such great news; three of our projects have achieved planning permission. Obviously, this is the outcome we hope for, but until you get the official green light there is always a slight nervousness. All the project are private residential schemes but are all quite different in typology and location, they really are a great showcase of our scope.

In central Southampton, Hampshire, the Skinny House is a brownfield redevelopment which creates a new three bedroom house on the corner plot of the existing property. The site is currently an overgrown patch of scrubland with unsightly garages on it, underused by us and an ideal brownfield redevelopment site.

In south Devon we have been given approval for the reimagination of Harbour View House in Brixham. The 1960’s bungalow sits on an elevated site, with stunning and uninterrupted views over Brixham harbour and Torbay. Our plans look to upgrade the home and extend the dwelling, the main objective was to alter the layout so it could be more flexible, whilst also engaging the house with its stunning setting and maximise the incredible views.

The third project is the reimagination of a mid-terrace, late 1960’s house in Bristol. The new owners wanted refurbish the existing house to create a more contemporary, spacious and bright home.

We are thrilled to see these designs progress and look forward to the next milestone in the design journey.