Girl Guides project appears in the AJ

Our Girl Guides Hut project was published in the Architects Journal this week; it is always nice to see our project news shared with prestigious industry publications, click here for the full article.

The design for the replacement hut has recently been submitted in for planning. The sustainably designed building will have low running costs, to make it an economical building for the charity to run. Due to the conditions of the site the building has been carefully crafted to maximise the space available, whilst fitting within the mature trees onsite and touching the ground lightly on screw piles. More project details can be found here.

Studio BAD Design Award – University of Brighton

Guest blog by Roger Tyrrell.

‘There are cracks in Everything – that’s how the light gets in.’  Lyric by Leonard Cohen

As Darren and I travelled to Brighton by train, we reflected upon our contemporary world discussing politics, economics and ethics amongst other things. Given these ‘dark matter’ discussions, we each alighted perhaps with heavier baggage than when we each boarded that train.

We were in Brighton to judge the 2024 Studio BAD Design Awards, presented to final year Interior Design Students at the University of Brighton. It proved the ultimate antidote to our mood.

For students had been nominated for their work and we had the great opportunity to talk with three of them. We began with Mia who had designed a mindfulness retreat to enhance female mental health. She articulated beautifully the ambitions of her project and as the narrative unfolded it was clear how she had engaged not only with issues surrounding female mental health, but as importantly, how spatial design holds the potential to heal and provide hope. Of particular note was her focus upon materiality and the sensorial capacity that appropriate material choice holds to enrich our lives. Her drawings were beautiful; evocative, sophisticated images populated with textures and tones that truly reflected the ambitions of the project.

Next, we met Yen, an International Student from Malaysia who designed a project focused upon the needs of ‘new people’, individuals who had relocated and need to integrate into their new home. A place to ‘bloom’ as she explained. Her project was both thoughtful and thought provoking, a design that resonated in sensitivity and sophistication. As with Mia, her drawings exhibited a refinement, entirely appropriate to the project objectives.

Finally, we spoke with Diyanah who presented her project entitled ‘Tapping into the Devine Feminine’ – a woman’s centre located in Brighton. At every level, her design met the objectives of that powerful title. As a space of hope and healing her understanding of the circumstances of her clients was humbling and the design response was focused and inspiring.

Unfortunately we were unable to meet a forth candidate, Lara, who had been called-away for domestic reasons. However, even in her absence, her work resonated with maturity and sophistication. The ‘Hive’ is designed as a retreat for immigrants, it was thoughtful, sensitive and resonated with empathy.

Across each of these conversations our mood incrementally lifted. We left Brighton inspired, uplifted and with a huge sense of hope that the future is safe in the hands of these four young women. Each demonstrated the potential held by spatial design to hold social purpose, provide individual and collective betterment, and improve the world.

Mia, Yen, Diyanah and Lara, thank you. You reminded us of the innate power held by young people to challenge orthodoxies and accepted norms and articulate a socially responsible design paradigm for future generations.


What is a Contemporary Home in 2024, MESH Energy Talk

Darren was invited by MESH Energy to present the talk ‘What is a contemporary home going to look like in 2024’ earlier this month, looking at our projects to discuss and explain the current trends we are seeing in the design of sustainable homes.

As a business we believe in using architecture to create sustainable homes, we understand that ethically and morally it is our responsibility as architects to use design to make contemporary houses that are kind to our clients, the surroundings and the planet. To build a new build house can produce up to 31% more embodied carbon than refurbishing an existing structure, which is why as a business we believe in reusing and reimagining existing dwellings where it is possible. Throughout the design process we have energy efficiency at the forefront of our minds, by adopting a fabric first approach, following Passivhaus principles and feeding as many of the UN sustainability development goals into each of our projects.

At our Brockenhurst project the clients were pushing the sustainable approach from the onset. At the early stages of the design process, we collaborated with MESH Energy to get an Energy Strategy Planning report done on the existing structure which was an extremely useful report which informed the design solution for the home and also offered the client a helpful breakdown of upfront costs compared to annual savings.

The project is currently progressing well on site, the work includes a contemporary rear extension that ties into the garden, key energy efficiency solutions include full over cladding, new triple glazed Internorm windows, insulation upgrade to walls and roof and addressing overheating concerns with sun shading introduced over large glazing in the garden.

It is always a challenge to push the sustainable agenda on clients, as this does have an impact on the budget but it is important to be able to show the initial costs and highlight the potential savings and impact. Understandable a major challenge on all refurbishment projects in the issue with VAT, many find it difficult to justify a refurbishment if they can save having to pay 20% VAT with a new build home. Interestingly, we have worked with some savvy clients who have deliberately purchased houses that have been empty, as there is often a clause that can get the VAT reduced down to around 5% for homes that have been unoccupied for many years.

When working with existing buildings things are not straightforward, clients need to be passionate about the sustainable agenda to move these projects forward. We have also found that working with good builders in very important, we try to recommend builders who will stick to the drawings and specification, especially if we are not retained onsite during the build, to ensure the completed home is as energy efficient as it was designed.

Our Burley house is unfortunately a structure that is past its best, so on this occasion we have looked to rebuild with an upgraded structure. Architecturally the replacement dwelling is contemporary vernacular, drawn from the natural agricultural aesthetic of the surrounding area. Sitting on a long and skinny plot, the house is arranged around a series of courtyards that connect with the landscape, brings in natural daylight, ventilation and offer shading.

Designed to be constructed from cross laminate walls and roof touch, the home will touch the ground lightly by sitting on screw piles, without a need for concrete foundations, reducing the impact to the landscape and allow trees and planting to be conserved on site.

You can hear the full webinar here, or get in touch to discuss your next project with us.

Brixham completes

We were down in Brixham last week for a site visit at our Harbour View project, which is now completed and is looking brilliant. Professional photos will be coming in the new year to show it properly, in the meantime please enjoy some quick snaps we took.

The house is in an amazing position, perched on a steep hill overlooking the harbour and offering spectacular views over the Breakwater and Torbay, but the original 1960’s bungalow did not take full advantage of the site.

Our design has extended and upgraded the property, transforming it into a contemporary family home. The design offers flexibility over how the house is lived in, prominently as a main residence but also with the ability to welcome three generations of the family to all be together over holidays.

Internally it was critical that our design did not just increase the space, but that it enhanced the quality of the internal space. We introduced large glazing which has increased the natural daylight deep within, whilst also improved the connectivity to the stunning coastal views on each level of the home.

We were thrilled with the results and can just imagine what a magical Christmas the whole family are going to have, gathered in their new home enjoying spectacular views from the warmth inside. We cannot wait to be back in early spring to take better photos, when everything has settled and the house looking like a home.