/team_an extended design team

Working with other creatives throughout the design process allows a depth of detail and the ability to grown as practitioners. Recently we have been working with the talented landscape designer Zaidee Penhalogon on delivering a truly coastal garden for our new surf house near the Towans in Hayle. We asked Zaidee put some words together ….

“Owl’s Nest is in a really special spot backing onto Upton Towans which falls within a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and is owned by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Most of the garden is given over to native tree and shrub planting to increase the biodiversity and wildlife habitat, in the remaining space we will be creating a secluded garden for eating and relaxing.

It’s important that the garden works with the architecture to settle the house into the landscape, and that the planting blends effortlessly from Cornish sub-tropical at the front, through the wild native planting and out onto the sand dunes. Bleached timber and soft natural stone will incorporate pockets of planting, drought and salt tolerant to withstand the coastal conditions, and give the impression that the garden has been here for years. Coming back from the beach in the evening, magical lighting will draw the visitor home to enjoy warm summer nights on the terrace, the hooded LED lighting minimising light pollution.” – Zaidee Penhalogon

/projects_consultation in a conservation area

Consultation, design, evolution, approval – the process which gained us a tremendous success for a replacement dwelling within Falmouth’s Conservation area. Through this work we learnt a lot about the power of shared knowledge, the importance of contextuality – which forms one of our big three design rules, and the joy that working collaboratively with a forward thinking client can bring.

White Wings is currently undergoing a deep detail design process where all construction elements are being fully modelled to allow for precision building and expression of craft. It is set to be an exemplar sustainable building using a modern timber super structure, recycled newspaper and wood fibre insulation and natural and reclaimed materials for internal and external finishes. Not only are we focusing on the technical ability to perform with this building using Passiv Haus analysis, we are also looking at its Carbon Life Cycle with construction choices that have ultra low embodied energies.

We are expecting to break ground this summer and look forward to sharing the build process and also, for those building geeks, the technical design data.

/scope_practice principles

Over the last quarter we have been working alongside a commended business mentor, Sue Austin, who has guided some of the most ambitious architectural firms we know. The development for us was not to re-write the rule book, nor create a new mission or vision, but more to bring strength to what we had. It has brought confidence we are on the right track and provided guidance on how to keep that going and not loose sight.

It has been dubbed ‘nailing ones colours to the mast’ which seems quite appropriate for a practice with its roots embedded in the history of the Cornish coast.

work and scale

We are renowned for creating sustainable, progressive architecture, putting the environment at the heart of everything we do, pioneering

We are thoughtful in how we grow, balancing profit with purpose, high quality design and in line with our values

We are well-known throughout Cornwall for our progressive and joyful approach in how we work with like-minded clients and long-term collaborators

culture and team

We are committed to doing the right thing socially, environmentally and as an employer

Our culture is values-based and motivating for all – we thrive on learning together and being thebest we can be (efficient)

We have an organisation structure with clearly defined roles which play to our strengths and wishes

We have an innovative mindset, researching, educating and investing in processes and tools for the best sustainable solutions for our clients and the planet.

We are a cooperative and flexible business, all sharing in our financial success, respecting balancebetween work and homelife.

Designing sustainable buildings, built for lifestyle, inspired by landscape.

/sustain_a head above a parapet

Joining a growing number of architects practices that are stand up and being heard against climatic destruction. Architects Declare is a network of practices committed to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency. We are proud to be part of this, and are practicing what we preach on our projects. Below are just a few of the ways we are committing to this; - Raising awareness - of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains

- Change fast - advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices

- Share knowledge - share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis - Evaluate projects - evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown - Upgrade existing - upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice

We will be releasing a document shortly with more information on what the practice is up to and how from a clients prospective you can get involved.

/create_images telling a thousand words

Creativity is blossoming in the studio.

We are quite well known for our sketch response to projects and with most clients asking for this as a way to dive into the beginnings of their journey, we are honing our skills. The way a picture can lift ones imagination and transport a client into a space that has only been realised seconds ago and now is in front of them on paper, is priceless. We have recently submitted a number of doodles as part of a RIBA competition – keep your fingers crossed for us!

Further to this, we are now twinning sketch storey boarding with physical models. This two layer tangible design output puts clients in the collaborative mix. Being able to see, touch and move a mere hued piece of card can evoke a full sensory experience. We hope to show you more on a number of upcoming projects as they are sculpted from materials and the natural forms of the surrounds.

/close_darling buds of May

As we move into spring and the beautiful Cornish landscapes explode with life and colour, it’s the perfect time to get out into nature and take in the delights of our local surroundings. Walking through the blooming gorse flowers, surfing in the warming sea, or witnessing the amazing burst of spring wildlife. It always feels like such an exciting time of hope and change.

We take huge inspiration from our daily interactions with the natural world, the varying landscapes of Cornwall and those that surround each of our projects. It not only inspires us but reinforces our passion for protecting (and hopefully enhancing) both our local and global natural environment.

We are striving to reduce the carbon emissions of our existing buildings by leading in carefully considered and resilient retrofit. Designing our new buildings to be ultra low energy demand (super insulated and very airtight), made from natural, local materials (very low embodied carbon), and sensitively designed to respond to and enhance their natural setting – increasing biodiversity and native species habitats.’

Dan Ranson.

Project Architect and Retrofit specialist

/team_who you now work with

As you may have noticed from the Christmas cards (we hope they have all made themselves to you now), the team has grown. We are now a STUDIO of three full time, with a fourth working part time. This is greatly exciting as not only does it mean we can deliver on larger, more diverse projects, but it also brings a expanse of experience and expertise.

2022 brings the potential change in HQ – the garden studio has quickly become quite busy. At present, we work with our local community to bring the Constantine Village hall back to life with a vision of it becoming a multidisciplinary working hub of creatives. This is the start of our dream to /gather like minded artisans under one roof and build on the idea of helping rural community become economic robust. More on this later this year….we hope.

/projects_overview of what we have been up to

It our first full year of trading, 2022! We begin with a roster of projects covering near all types, shapes and sizes. A common thread of attention to design and want for delightful architecture along with highly sustainable aspirations ties them together. We feel very fortunate being part of such a varied series of works which takes us all across Cornwall and (dare we say it) over the Tamar too!

In 2021, we submitted 12 planning applications, achieved 6 approvals, have had 4 projects start on site, attended countless parish and town council meetings - our name is certainly getting known – and welcomed over a dozen new clients onto the creative journey. It’s been busy and looks like it will stay that way too!

/scope_growth and the changes it brings

We have had a wonderful first year of working and have already forecast a increase in turn over in the next 12 months. More projects, more clients, more staff, more kit – growth is good but not to be taken lightly. To make sure the momentum is right – and it doesn't go to our heads – you might be pleased to know we are working with a Business Coach specialising in Architects practice. This will help keep us grounded, form a robust business/financial foundation and help curate our vision for what STUDIO/gather will become. We will also be looking to pledge more of our revenue into charitable avenues working along side 1% for the plant. This joins our efforts with Surfers Against Sewage and the National Trust tree planting. We are looking after the things we love.

/sustain_what difference it all makes

A year of education, upskilling, continued learning and helping spear head the change in our building habits. We have covered over 100 hours of CPD focusing on environmental practice, employed team members with specific skill sets geared to retrofitting of existing buildings, flown the flag for Architects Declare and have documented our building process with the RIBA 2030 challenge. Our buildings, on average, show a 25% carbon reduction to that of standard building regulation compliant buildings. We have offset 40 tonnes of carbon through our tree planting scheme, sourced over 90% of our office inventory through renewable and local companies and reduced our travel miles through more zoom calls and cycling.

This year, there is time set aside for local community lead sustainability, focusing on reducing carbon further through the actual build process, more trees being planted and more time on two wheels – perhaps not to projects over the Tamar!

/create_an eye in the sky

Over the last year, we have been spending more time looking to connect with our immediate surrounds. Part of this forced through lock downs but mainly due to wanting to feel more tied into the area we live and work within. It started as a Sunday jolly for two friends/two creatives/two enthusiasts/two young dads getting some escapism, which has now rolled into on a real passion project. The series looks to document enclaves of natural beauty from the sky in and around West Cornwall. This years subject has been the Helford Passage, in particular French Mans Creek. Seeing how the seasons bring a change in colour, feeling, light and focus that can really be felt from the sky.

In the next year, we will be bringing you more investigations into life, as seen from above, from some of our favourite Cornwall gems. If you have any hidden pockets of natural or man made areas which makes you feel connected too, let us know as we would love to find out how it might be animated from the sky. Do also check out the works of our good friend of the practice - Jon Wigmore’s - photography page who is the camera man and drone pilot.

/close_a word to set off the year with

‘Last year was a huge year for STUDIO/gather and for me personally. As ever, with this type of business you are only as good as your clients – so thank you. The support has been more than I could have imagined and as such the growth and strength of the practice. It feels like we are heading in the right direction and look forward to what the next year brings. To more upside down sketching, more collaborative design, more talks of how to build a more sustainable future and to more joy whilst doing it.

Thank you and see you soon.’

Julian J Mills.

Founding Director