13WEST ARCHITECTURE |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Graham West, founder
A new living space inserted in a former
Methodist church typifies our approach
West Architecture, founded in 2006 by Graham West, is
an award-winning practice based in London, working
on residential, commercial and public buildings. The
studio believes in logical, rational design that uncovers beauty
through elegant problem solving, striking a balance between
artistry and technical ability. Materials are chosen for their
inherent beauty, their respect of the surrounding context and
their viability to fulfil a fundamental purpose. The end result
of each project is the distillation of many design solutions that
form the most plausible and pertinent outcome.
The practice has a long history with adapting and repurposing historic structures,
which is the only sustainable way to retrofit cities for the 21st century. We believe
strongly that the character of a place can be retained without compromising on
efficient and beautiful spaces. We embrace the constraints that others might
avoid and make them an equal partner in the design process. By engaging in open
conceptual conversations with clients and consultants from the start, we are able to
ensure a truly collaborative process at all stages of design and construction.
How we work
Our ethos is influenced by work that interests us around the world and we believe
that good design transcends borders, producing buildings which are international
in outlook while being grounded in their context. There is no reason why the
redesign and extension of a 200-year-old building in Islington cannot be influenced
by architecture in Switzerland, or Japan. Over the years, our team has been
FACTS ABOUT
WEST ARCHITECTURE
»Founder: Graham West
»Established in 2006
»Based in London
»Services: Architecture and
interior design
»No. of employees: 5
»Multiple-award-winning firm
»www.westarchitecture.co.uk
West Architecture
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
14 | WEST ARCHITECTURE
comprised of multiple nationalities,
from central Europe to China and
beyond. Each contributor has left their
mark and the work we do is enriched
by this global dialogue.
The majority of our projects are
in London – arguably the most
international of cities – and this has
resulted in a broad range of clients
from all over the world. Our design
approach, our clients’ nationalities
and the existing fabric of London are
celebrated and combined to create our
own specific architecture. Our clients
have become our best ambassadors,
with multiple projects coming into
the office through referrals, and we
are proud of the reputation we have
developed since the practice was
founded.
The recently completed conversion of
a former Methodist church in Islington,
London, has become a key example
of how we work. Appearing in The
Guardian, Wallpaper* magazine and
many other design titles, the building
was repurposed to create a home for
our client, an émigré from the United
States. She desired as minimal a
space as possible, with plain materials
used to frame and focus everyday
activities. The end result is very much
a reflection of her simple lifestyle and
our approach to design.
The city
At an urban scale London has grown
relatively organically and somewhat
unplanned over time. At a human
scale this growth is reflected in the
accidental spaces on the periphery
of existing buildings and sites, and
these accidental spaces present great
opportunities to us as architects.
Our project in Fitzrovia made a small
connection between an existing
bomb-damaged Georgian house and a
former workshop to the rear. Retaining
only the perimeter walls to the house,
garden and the former workshop, an
entirely new structure was inserted.
The house now connects to and
encompasses the former workshop,
increasing the habitable space and
creating an enclosed courtyard. The
end product was awarded Best
Historic Intervention by New London
Architecture in 2016.
Heritage
The repurposing and reuse of existing
buildings is not only an economic
proposition but also a sustainable one.
Our completed work is a reflection
of our belief that existing buildings
can usually be preserved, reused and
repurposed for modern needs, with a
light touch going a long way.
This reconstruction of
a Georgian house and
workshop shows our work
with historic structures
We believe
that good
design
transcends
borders,
producing
buildings
which are
international in
outlook while
being
grounded in
their context
15WEST ARCHITECTURE |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
The construction and arrangement
of Georgian and Victorian terraces
lend themselves to be reimagined and
reconfigured; they remain one of the
most flexible of building types. We find
that we are working more with listed
buildings and sites of historical interest.
There is a required set of skills and tools
needed to negotiate consents with
statutory authorities while retaining
the best of the heritage fabric and
optimising the site. This negotiation
relies on a strong dialogue between
architect and local authority but also
the latter’s ability to fully understand
the information presented to them and
process in a subjective manner.
Learning process
We are constantly learning new and
exciting architectural solutions to
complex issues and this is broadened
by working across many different
sectors. Each retail project helps us to
rethink our residential work, and our
designs for contemporary workspaces
– such as our Therefore Offices project
– challenge perceptions of how people
use their time across any given day.
We crave this mix of expertise to help
us see the larger picture about how
people live in the city.
The future
Our skills have been developed on one-
off projects for end-user clients and
these are easily transferable to larger,
multiple-unit developments. Such
skills range from efficient detailing
choices to spatial planning or material
selection. We are keen to contribute
at a larger scale to the built fabric of
London and the UK, and contribute to
the solution for high-quality housing
across all the many variations the
sector brings, from permanent homes
to PRS schemes. With this in mind,
West Architecture is currently exploring
new areas of the built environment,
including social and low-cost housing,
as well as larger public projects.
The practice will continue to utilise
its experience in heritage buildings
and highly technical design but adapt
this for a new range of challenges in
a host of different typologies. As the
UK’s relationship with the EU changes,
we are dedicated to maintaining
contact with our colleagues, peers
and collaborators in other European
countries, ensuring our work retains
their influence and can impact on
future internationaldesign.
West
Architecture is
currently
exploring new
areas of the
built
environment,
including social
and low-cost
housing, as well
as larger public
projects
A proposal for housing
on a brownfield site in
north London