A Posh Shed that needn’t cost the earth

When I was approached by Ian about an office in his garden he was asking about a “posh shed” – the home/office things you see in glossy magazines; just crane them in and off you go. But Ian wanted one that was somewhere around Passivhaus levels of performance and built using sustainable methods. My initial […]

Narrating the Process of Design

I’ve been having conversations in my My Future York work about how designers can engage with the public around the process of design – not the outcomes from it, the “early sketches”. But the process which leads to these – which is where the challenges of the brief get addressed, where compromises are considered, and […]

Design in the Time of Coronavirus

A few days after lockdown was announced in the UK I got an enquiry about a possible job. The client wanted a small-ish rear extension, she was an artist; could I take this on without actually visiting the site or seeing the building? Well, these are strange times and we’re all learning new skills so […]

A Room with a View (added)

Neil & Susie live next door to Robert & Catherine; their home is similar in layout but – in the tradition of Victorian houses set behind identical facades – there are differences beyond the handing and mid/end terrace issues. But the similarity is that both had kitchens and living spaces separated from their pleasant, enclosed […]

Tales from the Tesla

The Tesla Powerwall is pretty much a fit-and-forget piece of kit – beyond an isolator it has no physical controls and it just sits more or less silently on the wall, pulsing with green neon light when it’s doing something useful like charging or discharging. But the battery links to a phone app. In addition […]

The Community Self Build Years

I found myself sitting in on a meeting recently about custom & self-build (on individual plots on a development site in York, in this case) and was reminded that me and self-build go back a long way, we do. Constructive Individuals was set up back in the 1980’s to provide design, training and management services […]

When the only way is up

Over the years I have done a bit of work with local schools – from working with schoolkids on participatory projects through to simple extensions. Some of these have been fairly substantial, including one for Robert Wilkinson Primary in Strensall – now part of the Ebor Academy Group. The school wanted three new classrooms, new […]

Two subtly different houses

Clients Tim & Marilyn approached me some time ago, looking for a site for a new Passivhaus. As is often the case, some time passed and then I heard from them again – they were buying an old cottage with planning consent for two new homes on a plot to the rear. The scheme had […]

A converted coalshed

Sometimes I meet clients early in their journey towards finding a suitable opportunity to do what they want. Mick & Sadie met me when they were in what turned out to be the early stages of finding a site. They wanted land to build a small house; most people don’t seem to want small houses […]

My Favourite One That Got Away

One of the things I’ve always most loved about being an architect is the fact that projects – if they go the way you always hope – end up as very real, physical things. Buildings make a big impact on our places and lives and being part of that process is exciting and satisfying. But […]