Nigel Daly Design

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Nigel Daly Design's best practice article

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 Nigel Daly Design is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Brian Vowles, managing
Hulmefield Hall, winner of the LABC 2018
Best Regional New Dwelling
Nigel Daly Design is an architectural practice, based in
Knutsford, Cheshire. Founded by its namesake, Nigel
Daly, in 1985, they aim to incorporate the nuances of
modern culture into period buildings in order to create stunning
designs. With clients ranging from multinational corporations
and international banks to private country homeowners, Nigel
Daly Design uses the versatility of its experts to provide a unique
service each time. Director Brian Vowles discusses how their
ethos and value set are the cornerstone of the business, which
allows them to bring vulnerable buildings back to life.
We at Nigel Daly Design believe that unless modern culture is able to understand
the principles in which it is rooted, it will become a globalised elitist club out of
touch with the mass of the people it claims to serve.
When dealing with an international bank, vast, glass-clad steel structures answer
their needs and express their style. In the field of private housing, however, this
architectural language fails to meet the aspirations of the people they are built for.
Our foundation
Nigel Daly Design was founded as a firm dedicated to rescuing vulnerable period
buildings. For us to successfully achieve this we employ tailor-made technology,
which gathers all information available on a building, so we can properly
appreciate its history. This provides us with a detailed understanding that we use
to restore or adapt them in a responsible and fitting manner. The importance we
»Founder: Nigel Daly
»Managing director: Brian Vowles
»Established in 1985
»Based in Knutsford, Cheshire
»Services: Architecture
»No. of employees: 6
»Key organisational philosophy:
A small central core with a
network of trusted and skilled
experts in their field
»Key areas: Restoration and
adaptation of period buildings.
New traditional buildings and
country houses with modern
»Awards include: Grand Designs
Best Restoration for Bletchley
Manor, Shropshire, and LABC
2018 Best Regional New
Dwelling for Hulmefield Hall
»Champion of built British
architectural heritage
Nigel Daly Design
attach to these endangered houses,
which usually have no access to
public funds, makes us fearless when
adapting them so they can continue to
contribute cultural significance to our
built environment.
History is too frequently seen as
irrelevant, and adaptations can be
damaging if carried out without
awareness. Adaptations too often
focus on urban functionalism, rather
than referring to the history and
culture of their area.
We have now built a highly discerning
base of clients who, while wanting
a functional and contemporary
place to live, are searching for an
elusive extra ingredient. They often
express the undefined quality as a
yearning for a place of repose and
contentment; a sanctuary that by its
nature allows them and their families
to experience the security that only the
acknowledgment of one’s place in the
continuum of time can provide.
Nigel Daly founded the organisation
alone in 1985. While training to
be an actor, he formed a company
in London designing and building
courtyard gardens to help finance his
studies. His drawing skills led to the
tiny company growing rapidly, before
he decided to undergo further training
to continue to develop the firm. In
1989, two large commissions arrived:
the complete restoration of a major
manor house in Jersey, previously split
into three apartments, and the saving
of an important Regency-era mansion
that had been subject to overly
Victorian-led conversion and since
defaced. I joined the organisation as
Faced with the challenge to grow
the company to satisfy the increasing
demand, we took the unusual
decision to keep the service very
personal by keeping the inner core
extremely small. Around that core,
we painstakingly constructed a
comprehensive network of close
relationships with highly gifted
craftsmen and small technical
companies for whom we supplied
scale drawings. The effectiveness of
this organisational model became
evident almost immediately. It resulted
in a rapid acceleration in demand that
grew to include landscape settings,
lodges and follies. The quality of these
completed projects led to another
major development.
People unable to find suitable period
properties in the right location have
asked us to design new country homes
in some of the most beautiful and
sensitive areas in the country. Recent
commissions have included new
houses in Devon, Fulham, Henbury and
Moreton-in-Marsh. Bletchley Manor, winner
of Grand Designs’ Best
Restoration Award
Nigel Daly Design’s hand
drawing for a new country
house at Moreton-in-
Marsh 2017
Adaptations too
often focus on
rather than
referring to the
history and
culture of their
Highlighting best practice
Marrying contemporary with
Nigel Daly Design’s dedication and
expertise in reviving period buildings
does not mean we merely attempt
to lavishly reincarnate defunct
living arrangements. The idea of
convenience – almost a definition
of good modern design – was not a
factor when most period buildings
were conceived. Correct proportion
and architectural refinement were
central to the owner’s wish to be
accepted as cultivated and well
educated. Thus, a new home derived
from classical precedent, such as a
temple, had to be radically adapted to
function as an 18th-century English
country home. The skill with which the
designer retained the essence of the
ancient ideal while producing well-lit,
comfortable spaces for the modern
owner and his family was the criterion
on which his work was judged. This is
the spirit in which Nigel Daly Design
approaches its architectural and
interior design work.
The turmoil generated by periods of
transformative technological change,
such as the Industrial Revolution or
the current digital revolution, creates
the need to assess the value of what
is being discarded. To an extent,
design is timeless, so the qualities that
have made some period buildings
so universally admired need to be
As a conceptual journey can only be
judged in comparison to the criteria
for success set out initially, we place
huge importance on understanding
the aspirations of our clients. Does
fastidious symmetrical design fill them
with peace, or do they achieve this
by having a labrador and three pugs
on the settee with them? During
initial discussions clients will often
unwittingly cite textural qualities such
as mellowness or reticence as the
quality they most desire.
The exploration of these preferences
has led to perhaps the most eccentric
and counter-cultural aspect of our
methodology, but one which elicits
a grateful response. We always insist
on hand-drawing the initial scale
elevations, which helps show texture.
This allows us to agree on these crucial
qualities before the build begins.
Hand-drawing also means we are not
bound by the possibilities stored in the
computer, nor by the speed with which
images are generated. These drawings
are essential throughout the project,
especially when the process has moved
into the computer-controlled build
phase. With all its miraculous benefits,
technology must not be allowed to
eradicate the accumulated knowledge
of the centuries. Nigel Daly Design are
harnessing its wonderful possibilities
to undertake the task of illuminating
the beauty and wisdom of British
architectural heritage.
In 2010, to better demonstrate the
creative expertise of the company’s
work, the headquarters of Nigel Daly
Design was moved from the Kings
Road, London, to Biddulph Old Hall
in Staffordshire. The house has since
been restored and a national-level
garden created.
With all its
must not be
allowed to
eradicate the
knowledge of
the centuries
Part of the White Garden
at Biddulph Old Hall

This article was sponsored by Nigel Daly Design. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister