Planning successes

We are thrilled to have been awarded planning for three quite different projects over the last few weeks – a re-imagination of a community church, a low energy house renovation and a town house reconfiguration. To get planning is such a positive milestone in the design process, it definitely is something we like to celebrate.

At St Lukes Church in Portsmouth, Hampshire, our design will enhance the engagement of the church building with the local community, making the space more welcoming and restful for visitors. Our scheme has been specifically designed to embrace a phased build, so the work is achievable in stages as the church is able to raise funds.

In Brixham, Devon, we have been granted our second planning approval, this time for Courtyard House, a traditional townhouse that needed some work to rationalise the layout and maximise the coastal views. The design focuses on reworking the internal space, to draw in natural daylight and help make the tall, thin house feel more spacious, a key design feature is the introduction of an internal courtyard to bring landscaping into the home whilst making sense of the steep site.

Our final approval to celebrate is for Cedarwood, a low energy home in Twyford, Hampshire set within the South Downs National Park. The project will reconfigure the existing home, making the space more suitable for the needs of the growing family. The design also concentrates on upgrading the sustainability of the home, to create a low energy dwelling, work includes increased insulation throughout, replacement glazing and a new roof. An external colonnade is to be added to the south side, to help mitigate overheating during the warmer summer months, which also creates a covered outdoor space that extends the time the clients can use the garden.

We are looking forward to sharing further updates of these three projects as they progress onsite soon.

Building Trends for 2023


I was asked to predict the a key trend for 2023, by Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine. The one trend I can see being high on all those self-build enthusiasts list this year, is deep retrofit of existing buildings.

We are already seeing this in the self-build industry, where homeowners and those investing in new properties and projects are looking to invest in the fabric of their buildings so that they can save energy in the long term. This is in response to the challenging times we face, with energy costs, rising inflation and how this impacts on construction costs.

So this may include new triple glazed windows, insulating the fabric of a building first, existing walls, roof and floor. It makes sense to put investment into the existing envelope of the building first, before investing in the interiors such as kitchens, bathrooms, lighting and decoration. There is a move to upgrade building fabric now, so that money can be saved and put aside for further improvements on buildings.

We are working with many clients on existing buildings and a phased approach or meanwhile delivery is becoming more prevalent where funds are prioritised to invest on upgrading elements, prior to delivery of perhaps new elements and extensions. In some cases, extensions may be built up to a shell level, so insulated and weather tight, until funds become available to complete and install finishes.

I think we will see a continuing trend for client’s and architects, being smart, taking these moves in order that the continuing pressure on budgets energy, material costs and interest rates, will simple mean that this has come out of a necessity, to have a clear strategy of how you plan your self-build refurbishment, sourcing and prioritised affordable materials, in an age where materials are constantly increasing.

Studio BAD collaboration

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of working with Katie from KLC Studio to have some professional photos taken of the team in our studio, for an upcoming brochure we are currently working on. Now this might not seem newsworthy to many of you, but a few important things struck me.

Firstly, the simple task of trying to get a date that everyone was available for the photoshoot was impossible! In the end we had to settle on a date when the majority could join us, which really highlighted to me how much the Studio BAD team has grown.

We have come a long way from me working on my own in my home office, and Studio BAD has become far richer from it! I am so proud of the collective of collaborators who are involved with Studio BAD. Every member of our team brings their professional (& personal) expertise, skills and experience to the team, helping to produce interesting ideas and design solutions. As we always shape our team around each project’s needs, we are able to be nimble and flexible to offer the best solutions for our clients, it also ensures that no two project teams are the same and no two projects are the same.

Secondly, we could host the photoshoot in our own studio space! Earlier this year we opened our first Studio BAD studio in central Southampton, which was a huge step for us but has been so rewarding.

We now have the physical space to get together, facilitate workshops and hold design crit, which has been tricky to do in the past when we had to rely on online meetings or hiring space. Having a ‘home’ that reflects the company, where people can find us and drop in is really gratifying and hugely beneficial to the whole team. Whilst I love technology as a way of keeping in touch, nothing quite beats sitting down over a coffee to talk through and solve a tricky design issue.

And finally, the simple fact that we are putting together a brochure for the company is brilliantly amazing to me. Initially we had started looking at putting a simple gatefold leaflet together, but once we started looking at the wide variety of projects that we wanted to include it quickly became obvious that this was not going to work.

The process of putting together the brochure has been another enjoyable collective endeavour. From the consideration over the design, to discussing the projects to include and the conversations over the copy text; we have worked in an open and honest way, to deliver the best outcome (which we hope to be able to publish very soon.)

It is incredible how this simple task has highlighted so much positive change in the company, but I wanted to share this as I know how important it is to occasionally take a moment and appreciate how far we have come.





First phase of Gosport complete

Phase One of our Gosport regeneration work has been completed, reimagining and activating the city centre through incremental and meanwhile design solutions. A key aspect of the plan was to install large scale art murals at key points across the town, to highlight and celebrate the heritage of Gosport and injecting bright, bold colours into the street scene.

One key area of town we looked to reactivate was the waterfront area, which hold such potential as a destination for Gosport. We selected a dated, uninspiring public convenience block to be the location for a new piece of public art, celebrating the maritime history. Working with a talented graphic designer, Nathan Evans, we created a unique graphic mural to wrap around the entire structure, visually lifting the dated building and injecting a sense of fun to the street scene. The artwork uses subtle, abstract graphics to commemorate the industrial maritime heritage, using bold blues and aquamarine tones inspired by the sea and air.

Already a local favourite, in a few well considered images this work brilliantly captures the story and rich maritime heritage of Gosport.’ Peter Fellows, Project Manager – Gosport High Street Heritage Action Zone.

Other work completed includes a large, abstract mural installed in the centre of the High Street, designed collaboratively with Amber Ryan coming up with the concept designs and Amanda Moore refining and delivering the project. The vivid design was inspired by the iconic ‘Dazzle’ camouflage used on navy ships during WWI and WWII, the designs consist of a complex patten of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, which have been reinterpreted and applied to a rundown, post war commercial block located at the cross section of the street, visually lifting the appearance of the structure at this main artery of town.

We look forward to seeing the additional aspects of the design come to completion onsite in following months.

Reading School of Architecture, End of Year Show

Reading School of Architecture, End of Year Show

Last week ‘Collaborations’ opened; the Reading School of Architectural at Reading University end of year show for students both in BSc Architecture and the Masters of Architecture course.

The exhibition is really worth a visit and I am enormously proud of the high level of work the students deliver, particularly considering the challenges they have faced over the past few years. The exhibition this year has especially felt like a moment to celebrate, as this was the first physical show we have been able to put on for two years.

For me personally the end of year show is such a rewarding moment, to see how far the students I have taught and mentored have come, and what outstanding work they can create. As I have been teaching at Reading for five years, I have worked with the vast majority of those exhibiting at some stage in their studies. As I have discussed before, in a previously Why Teaching Matters blog post teaching is something that is so important to me and moments like this really do make it all worthwhile.

The exhibition runs until the 18th June, between 10am – 4pm at The Old Library L46, London Road Campus, University of Reading, RG1 5AQ

MESH Energy Panel Discussion

Challenges to retrofitting the UK housing stock

I was invited to join the panel of experts for the recent MESH Energy discussion, looking at the challenges we are all facing when retrofitting the UK housing stock. The aim of the session was to understand how we could adapt the current housing stock in the UK, to tackle the fuel crisis and to reach the critical net-zero targets.

There were some interesting questions, including: What role do you think architects have when it comes to retrofitting the UK housing stock in light of the fuel crisis? Can you explain the difficulties when considering embodied carbon in retrofitting of buildings? We know retrofitting can provide an influx of new jobs, but how can we bridge the skill gap? If you were in change of the political retrofit, what would you priorities?

I was joined by three brilliant experts, each at the forefront of their specific area of the sustainable sector, so it was a great discussion to have with some interesting input from each person.

  • Graham Hendra, an independent heat pump consultant with over a decade in the renewables sector specialising in air to water heat pumps.
  • Jenny Wallace, Operations Director at MESH Energy, with over a decade of practical experience in the energy industry consultancy.
  • Graham Lock, founder of Low Carbon Homes a nationwide independent retrofit network.

The discussion was hosted on MESHWorks, the free community hub that brings together sustainably conscious members across the design, architecture, built environment. If this is an area of interest to you it is well worth looking into, details can be found here. 

MESH Energy are independent building performance consultants who I have had the pleasure of working with them on multiple projects, most recently when looking at sustainable energy solutions for St Margaret’s Church refurbishment. It was a privilege to be asked to be part of this event, as it is such an important topic and so central to Studio BAD’s company ethos of reuse.

The watch can be viewed here.