Eloise was built in the garden of our client’s parent’s property, so that she would be able to look after them in their old age.

There was initial resistance from the Planning Authority to this idea because the building would create a break in the linear development set deep behind a stone wall which characterised the setting.

Eloise is designed therefore to have the feel of a ‘gatehouse’ which gives a rationale to its setting.

A large glazed south facing atrium is a focal point to the house and maximizes sunlight and views. Externally, earthy coloured render and timber cladding give the house a feel appropriate to it’s garden setting.

Dunkirk Primary School Playground.

The school playground was a grim expanse of tarmac edged on one side by an elevated section of the six-lane Nottingham ring road.

We set up an ‘office’ in the school hall using rolls of corrugated cardboard to create walls, and spent a day with all of the staff and children thinking about what could be done. At the end of the day we had a list of over thirty activities the playground needed to facilitate. A common theme was a need for peace and quiet, animals and plants.

We created a huge ‘living’ tunnel with climbing plants forming the side and roof. A sound system plays birdsong. Within this space the whole school can meet for lunches and events, and parents can wait and socialise.

Smaller gardens lead out from the tunnel creating opportunities for smaller groups to enjoy structural outdoor activities such as dance, drama, reading and role play.

This was an immensely rewarding project, especially so as the staff have told us that it has transformed school-life by turning a liability and an eye-sore into an asset and resource.


Our clients bought a house with a very austere appearance externally, and a ‘warren’ like interior.

We opened up the plan internally to create interest and admit more height within the building. In addition we remodelled the houses’ staircase.

To create additional kitchen and dining space our clients wanted to build a series of linked “pavilions” each with glazed pyramid roof lights and a planted roof. These structures “wrap around” the building which in turn adds life, texture and vitality to the original House.

Terraces accessed from the new spaces link the building and garden better and helped integrate the built elements with the landscape.

Hallcliffe House

Hallcliffe House is a Grade 2 listed building in Parwich, Derbyshire.

When our client’s bought the house it was in poor condition and in need of complete renovation.

We put together a project plan which involved the early selection of a builder to start urgent repair work which did not need Listed Building Consent giving us breathing space to come up with a design proposal for alterations both internally and externally and to address the need to improve the house’s energy efficiency.

At the same time costs were constantly being evaluated to keep a track on the projected final budget whilst work was progressing on site.

This approach was not our normal one, but was necessary to avoid the building deteriorating further and in order to meet our client’s timeframe.

We obtained Listed Building Consent for the work and full Building Regulation approval, negotiating compromises when conflicts occurred. These mainly centred on the requirement to retain historic fabric and at the same time improve the buildings thermal performance. This was achieved by installing a biomass boiler and under-floor heating as well as adding roof insulation. Double glazing was not acceptable to the Planning Authority and tightly fitting folding shutters were fitted which created an attractive alternative.

The building is now a comfortable modern home with its historic fabric legible and restored but with the benefit of light, warmth and a much better relationship to the original formal garden.

Litton Infants School

The head teacher was working from a cupboard when we first visited the school! An extension had been ruled out as too expensive and unlikely to gain approval as the building was grade II listed.

We suggested creating a gallery in the hall which could serve as an office, but would also create useful space below, for smaller group work with a different ambience to the feel of the main open hall.

There was barely room to accommodate the gallery so the depth of the structure was critical. The solution we developed was to create built in desk and storage space to the front and back of the galley which acted as a lattice truss and avoided the need for any additional structure.

This approach also meant that the connection to the listed building was minimal - a series of stainless steel bolts and this overcame the concerns of the conservation officer. The gallery was designed as a series of timber sections, all bolted together, which could be manufactured off site in a joinery workshop. This meant we were able to complete the work on site during the school holidays with no disruption to the children’s use of their hall.

Sustainable Design

 Whilst sustainability is a key aspect of all of our projects some offer greater opportunities than others.

Our most published and visible project is the BASF house at Nottingham University which is designed to be low cost and require no heating. Our Sure Start children’s centre in Derby won, amongst other awards, the first East Midlands RIBA award for Sustainable Design.

As part of the design process we always sit down with our clients and discuss their energy needs and advise them as to how the design of a building can dramatically reduce energy consumption. Where possible we try to place buildings in a way which makes best use of natural resources and daylight.

Landscape Design

We feel that it is important when designing a building to consider its context and therefore landscape design is something we are interested in. We also have access to external consultants who can assist with regards to landscaping matters including tree work, planting and flood risk.

We have undertaken projects that are primarily landscape focused such as school playgrounds at nursery and infant schools, work in recreational areas including skate parks and our outdoor amphitheatre in Bolsover. These projects are extremely rewarding.

Interior Design

We always design the interior of our projects as we find it impossible to consider any building as ‘just a shell’. It is the interior detail which is often most important to our clients as this is the bit that they use! We have also been involved in some projects which were mainly about interior design, for example a project in Tansley saw the conversion of a former mechanical workshop into a family home.