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5 Architecture Practices to Watch

20th August 2020

It might seem glib given… *gestures everywhere*… but let’s look at the positives of our situation.

While we may not have been allowed out, we have been allowed to self-reflect, evaluate our development, and think about how we as a global society want to grow. We need to be more sustainable, more aware, more conscious. And that starts with the buildings we live in.

Luckily, there are plenty of architecture practices who are looking to make a difference than more to just a skyline.

Let’s have a look at just five of our favourites.

 

Practice Architecture

If you are a Londoner, or know a Londoner with access to an Instagram account, you’ve probably heard of Frank’s Café in Peckham.

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Positioned on the top of a multi-story car park (of course), and accessible via an incredible and incredibly pink staircase, Frank’s Café is covered by a 50m long red canopy which was built by Practice Architecture.

The structure was built using reclaimed scaffolding boards and lorry-siding, and Practice Architecture have even built a theatre out of straw in one of the lower levels.

The Practice work hard to create spaces that resonate with their communities, with “a strong sense of place.” You can see it in their expertly cultivated youth centre in Stratford.

You can check out more of their projects here.


Studio Weave

Studio Weave make structures that just make your heart sing.

One of our favourites of theirs is 33, a spectacular viewing tower in Greenwich, mimicking a typical London terraced house, that “celebrates the evolution of the area as a creative community providing new homes, jobs and neighbourhoods near the River Thames.”

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The studio also built a wonderful school for children with learning difficulties. Situated near a woodland, the interior spaces were designed to feel domestic, and comforting, while the school was designed to symbolise an entrance to another world, a gate to a secret garden.

I highly recommend looking at Studio Weave’s other projects here.


Studio Anyo

Studio Anyo is an architecture practice with a strong focus on sustainability. They recently won approval to build a carbon and energy positive housing scheme in east London… yes that’s carbon positive, not just neutral.

How did they achieve this? According to Michael Lynas, of Studio Anyo, they utilised “local materials, compact massing to reduce heat loss, a bespoke, south-facing roof design, strategic window placement to retain heat and capture daylight.”

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They also sized the roof sections in identical triangles, to reduce offcuts, and the offcuts that were made were also incorporated into the design. What was left out of the design was the hazardous use of paint, preferring instead a clay plaster finish.

 I don’t know what it is, but I just really like people who try to make the world a better place. I should give it a try sometime.


IF_DO

Following on from this concept nicely comes IF_DO, an architecture company with a fully-fledged manifesto.

At the start of every project they ask “what if the places in which we live and work could make us healthier and happier? What if we could create beautiful buildings that work for the environment as well as for us?”

IF_DO’s answers to those questions are always creative and always inspiring.

Like when they designed the pavilion for the Dulwich Picture Gallery, when they concluded that the face of a building does not always need to be on the outside, bringing a kind of chaotic, cerebral peace to the environment, if that makes sense (it doesn’t). The temporary structure was later donated to a local school.

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Started by three young Edinburgh University graduates “who saw no end to the possibilities”, IF_DO do a range of work bringing outdoor life to indoor spaces, whether that be private homes, public buildings or even schools. Be sure to check out their incredible work with a Surrey sixth-form college!


Kennedy Woods

Last but by no means least is Kennedy Woods, a company who “create positive social impact” in their work, and are in fact the UK’s first and as of yet only architecture B-Corp. In other words—a company that meets the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Oh yeah, they build stuff too. Awesome stuff. Like when they helped nurture an entire creative community from an old industrial estate. Or when they partnered with a homeless charity to create a floating barge restaurant in Hoxton.

A lovely idea of theirs came after identifying the difficulty impossibility young people have in buying a home. They created simple, spacious, beautiful and affordable homes for this exact purpose, in an attempt to cater to young first-time buyers.