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.


RIBA publish ‘Inclusion Emergency’

Darren was invited to offer his insights on the Architectural profession for the new ‘Inclusion Emergency, Diversity in Architecture’ book by Hannah Durham & Grace Choi, published by RIBA Publishing.

The book aims to encourage understanding across the industry, asking professionals to reflect on the industry and addresses critical questions to provides steps towards meaningful change. It is widely acknowledged that architecture is at a tipping point and if there isn’t any change there is a risk of limiting our relevance in today’s society, this book looks to engage in meaningful debate to show a way forward.

Within the book are insights from many leading voices, including Amy Francis-Smith, Clare Nash, Mary Holmes, Nick Walker and Sumita Singha to name a few. Each individual highlights a different topic and expresses their experiences to provide a rich foundation for a future of architecture, representing the diverse population the RIBA serve.

The book aims to help those who are under-recognised to find the role models, community and tools to feel confident, supported and valued. It will also help those intimidated by change to understand why it is important and provoke constructive action.

The book is now available from RIBA Books online, and will be in all good retailers from 1 June 2024.

Winning Design for Art Commission

We are absolutely thrilled to have won the commission by the charity Allegra’s Ambition and SPUD to deliver a new piece of public art, to be located outside the Winchester Sports Centre which opened in 2021.

The brief was to design a new sculpture as a place for people to gather and sit, adjacent to the playing fields at the new recreation centre. The piece needed to versatile, to be interesting visually, create a natural gathering point, but also to offer some form of seating, and to ideally incorporate the charity within the design, all within a budget of £50,000.

Our answer was the ‘Tactile Seating Structure’ crafted from hardwood timber fins. Each fin could be a different hardwood to offer a variation on tone, positioned at a slightly different angle to create an organic ripple, reflective of the ribbons within the charity logo. The shape of the wooden structure creates a welcoming enclosure for people to gather, encouraging people to sit or lounge within, or climb and crawl over the undulating surface. Conceived out of reclaimed natural timbers, sourced locally, to create a robust, warm and durable structure which can sustain the public interaction with minimal on-going maintenance. The structure will be integrated with landscaping and outdoor apparatus, offering everyone an opportunity to participate in physical activity and activating an underused public area outside of the leisure centre. Public consultation workshops will be carried out to ensure that the structure incorporates a wide variety of uses for all ages and abilities.

The Allegra’s Ambition charity aims to encourage and empower young and disadvantaged people to fulfil their potential through participation in sport, the charity was set up in memory of Allegra, a keen sports person who died suddenly at the age of 16. SPUD is an arts and education charity located in the New Forest, they aim to create opportunities for people to engage with art, architecture, design and the environment.

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.

Cedar Wood near completed onsite

We are really proud to see our Cedar Wood project nearing completion, it is great to see our designs and ideas come into reality onsite and we cannot wait to see this home finish very soon.

The designs have retrofitted the existing home; extending and reconfiguring the space to transform the existing house and make it more suitable for the family life of the owners. As the home is set within a sensitive rural location the designs had to carefully alter the home without impacting the original mass or form, to reduce to impact on the surrounding area.

Once the work has been completed Cedar Wood will be a comfortable, low energy family home with flexibility built into the design so it can adapt to the many phases of their family life.

We look forward to sharing professional photos of the completed home very soon.