NFA Architects

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from NFA Architects is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Design DirectorNick Farnell
Full refurbishment of a three
storey dwelling in Holland Park
Formed in 2007, NFA Architects is an established and
experienced small practice with five employees in Thanet,
Kent that predominantly serves central London. Operating
in several sectors including residential, commercial and
education, the firm is keenly focused on quality design and
delivery. Design Director Nick Farnell explains more about how
the team operates in practice.
Good design is integral to our practice. We combine a love of design and ingenuity
in finding solutions. I am a qualified architect with over 23 years of experience and
have worked across many sectors spanning different building types, from high-
end gyms to spas, theatre to home cinema, Crown courts to schools and hotels
Our work at the moment is predominantly residential. Our forte is designing
challenging schemes, for example, working on Grade I listed buildings in some of
the most prestigious locations across London. These present exciting and innovative
opportunities for the team, such as gaining basement approval on one scheme
that was Grade I listed. We all love problem solving and will rise to any challenge
with enthusiasm. I do encourage all employees to put forward their own ideas and
research and develop these. We will always debate, to gain full insight into the
work required and all the different opportunities a particular job presents.
Collaboration and consultation
A collaborative and consultative approach is taken with our clients and is the key to
our success. This is tailored to each project, so it keeps the design approach fresh.
»Design Director:Nick Farnell
»Established in 2007
»Based in Thanet, Kent
»Services:Residential and
commercial architects
»No. of employees: 5
NFA Architects
Highlighting best practice
Firstly, we need to gain insight into
understanding our client’s aspirations
and the site conditions, including
planning requirements, and then
we need to create an imaginative
solution that delights our clients.
We understand the importance of
a dedicated team to support and
develop each project. Our practice is
architect led, with a focused, design-
inspired philosophy that benefits the
project and ultimately the client.
We are contemporary designers and
enjoy playing with new and old. Our
methods are fluid enough to tailor to
the client rather than impose a style or
ideal on a person. We also look to the
context for inspiration; sometimes this
means working sympathetically with
the context and sometimes working
in contrast. It is this flexibility that
produces sometimes unexpected but
always beautiful designs appropriate
to the project’s specific constraints.
Our firm commits to each and every
client to deliver the best possible
solution within the limits they choose
to impose. We craft our designs and
nurture the initial concept to develop
well-considered projects that leave our
clients delighted.
Clients are lead through the process
making it as enjoyable as possible.
Often, we find clients choose to return
or introduce friends as they enjoyed
the process so much and the working
relationship that developed.
Pushing constantly
Over the past 13 years we have
constantly pushed ourselves to
increasingly take on board a turnkey
approach. As a result, we now offer
full interior and furniture design as
well as landscape services. This has
increased our control of projects and
improved the quality of the finished
article. We have been recognised
for these achievements, gathering
During the past few years our growth
has been quite static with the global
pandemic and many political and
financial factors affecting our core
market. The uncertainty of Brexit
influenced the market severely:
price drops in property and hesitant
investors all impacted us. Covid-19
immediately changed the way we
work. However, we are now seeing
increased activity from new enquiries,
interestingly enough, mostly from
European clients and those further
afield. Despite this much needed push
the cost of building works and VAT
is slowing the growth in this sector.
Perhaps there could be more incentives
to keep the building trade going
during this unprecedented time as the
Complete remodelling of
a sixth floor apartment
on Onslow Square, to
create an open, light
filled interior
Two large penthouse
apartments in
Knightsbridge, remodelled
and fully refurbished
with amazing views
A collaborative
approach is
taken with our
clients and is
the key to
knock-on effect is so much wider for
employment of local tradesmen and
use of all the local service resources.
A lowering of VAT on all builds would
help enormously and give a boost to
those hesitant investors.
Perhaps a fresh approach to planning
would also help. We have seen the
introduction of PIP that was expected
to assist the building industry for small
scale new homes, however planning
generally needs an overhaul in our
sector. The extraordinary length of
time planning and listed building
applications take, and the lack of
discourse throughout the process,
inevitably causes our industry to
suffer. Poor planning or listed building
approval decisions can create a huge
time lag that leads to a strain on funds
for all concerned. There is seldom
sufficient dialogue between planning
officers and the architect, thereby
reducing our perceived creditability
with our clients.
Ultimately to ensure dialogue and
a proper working relationship with
planning, who may need to increase
staffing levels, this would require
higher fees for applications. I think
we could all agree that in London,
especially, the cost of a planning
application is so low in comparison to
the value of the building that an uplift
in cost would be acceptable.
Look to the future
Since the pandemic arrived it has
changed our whole working practice
including how we interact with
consultants, team members and
clients. Add to this the volatile fiscal
uncertainty of our business sector leads
us to rethink how to cope for now
and in the future. The Governments
funding initiatives were extraordinary
and unexpected and without these
measures we would have struggled
and had to reduce our staffing levels.
To economise and to be safe we have
given up our main office in Kent and
the team is for now working from
home and meeting in pairs when
absolutely necessary.
We have also taken on a small office
space in Sloane Square to enable us to
meet clients close to where they reside
in a safe environment if necessary.
We have worked hard throughout
this pandemic to ensure buildings are
completed and to find new projects
and clients. We have taken this time to
completely revise our website and are
taking the opportunity to increase our
web presence utilising a digital media
company. The future is uncertain but
we are proving to be quite adaptable
in this extraordinary time.
Our practice is
architect led,
with a focused,
philosophy that
benefits the
project and
Listed building dating
from the late 1600’s on
Embankment Gardens.
Extensive re-modelling
and full interior design

This article was sponsored by NFA Architects. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.