Seven chosen for the Architect Pitch

26 May, 2021

Seven architects have been shortlisted to pitch ideas for the next generation of workplace design that reflects the shift to hybrid working post-Covid.

The architects are: CAN; Common Ground Architecture; Editional Studio; NOOMA Studio; Office S&M; Pup Architecture and Studio Dera.

Each architect has just three minutes to pitch to a panel that includes CEO of General Projects Jacob Loftus and Ben Cross, General Projects.

The winner will then be offered an opportunity to realise their ideas as part of the Cat B fit-out of 242 Marylebone Road, the former Woolworths headquarters.

The Pitch attracted 32 submissions from practices across the UK.

Ben Cross said: “We were blown away by the quantity and quality of submissions for the pitch – creating a shortlist of seven brilliant practices wasn’t easy.

“The narrative of the submissions clearly demonstrate that the pandemic turned the role of the workplace on its head. It’s accelerated trends that were already there but catalysed bold new ideas that we’re keen to see become the mainstay of the next generation of office design.

“We can’t wait to host the event in June and are looking forward to meeting some of the brightest architectural talent the UK has to offer”.

The pitch will be held on June 21st at 242 Marylebone Road before a live audience.

Here, the selected architects tell us why they want to pitch.

CAN

Mountain View, Sydenham, London. 2020. Credit:Jim Stephenson

Tell us about your practice

The studio creates idiosyncratic and striking projects underwritten by cultural and historical research, often pulling disparate ideas and influences together to create something wholly new and unexpected.

We actively seek and collaborate with creatives outside of architecture. Working with sculptors, set designers and illustrators aids our constantly evolving design approach and keeps the ideas fresh.

Our RIBA award-winning ‘Lomax Studio’ is a hybrid workplace which brings together the very different working practices of a printmaker and sculptor together into one space.

How old is your practice?   5 years

Why do you want to take part?

No one wants to return to the office of the past with its repetitive mundanity, they want an office that offers everything the home cannot. CAN would love to be involved in the development and thinking of how the office can offer ultimate hybridity of spaces and facilitate more flexible working patterns. Unpicking and solving the contradictions represented by what the future office needs will require an innovative approach to spatial thinking and materiality.

The ‘new office’ needs to be built around encouraging happenstance interactions that drive innovation. It is time to rethink what the office is and how it can enrich our daily lives and we believe CAN is well placed to tackle the challenge.

Office S&M

Tell us about your practice

Established by Catrina Stewart and Hugh McEwen in 2013, Office S&M is an award-winning architecture practice working with a 50:50 split of public clients and private clients on individual homes, new- build housing, workspace retrofit and public realm projects.

The practice engages clients and users in a collaborative process, experimenting with colours and materials to deliver joyful and unexpected private spaces and public places. 

How old is your practice 8 years

Why do you want to take part?

In 2020 we designed Mintworks, a flexible and inclusive workspace with a focus on mental and physical health. While the scheme is paused due to Covid-19, we have kept developing our approach to wellbeing.

Most recently this has involved teaming up with Ekkist, with whom we are delivering a new flexible community space will wellbeing at its heart. We’d like to take part in this pitch to show how we can bring social sustainability, material culture and wellbeing-led design to future office spaces.

Lead image: Mo-tel House, Islington, London. Credit: French + Tye

Editional Studio

Tell us about your practice

Editional Studio is run by architects Jo Sharples and Jack Richards.

Manchester-based, we work from our high street shop on projects of all scales and with a diversity of people, embracing the chance encounters that come with shopkeeping.

Editional Studio, Manchester

We strongly advocate a less is more attitude. The construction industry is responsible for almost 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint and we’re determined to change this. We aim to re-use built fabric wherever possible, upgrade the performance of existing buildings to reduce their energy demand and use natural, local materials with low embodied carbon.

How old is your practice?  3 years

Why do want to take part? 

Editional Studio’s model of public-facing practice explores our profession’s civic responsibility, both in the work we do but also in the way we share our workplace.

Drawing in as wide a variety of people as possible to our high street studio, hosting exhibitions, talks and pop-up shops, we engage our local community in conversations about architecture and sustainability. This open-door policy brings with it surprising conversations, new perspectives and unusual projects.

It’s the chance encounters and off-the-record chats that have been missing from online meetings and dining table zoom drinks. For the Architect Pitch, we will explore how we can interweave work with public life, one enriching the other, to enliven the working day and inspire creativity and collaboration.

Turning the office into an accessible resource for lunchtime learning and open invitation workshops will truly enrich the local community. When we can work anywhere, why do we choose here?

Common Ground Architecture 

Tell us about your practice

We are down to earth practical designers creating characterful and inspiring places.

Born from the public sector, how people live their lives is at the heart of what we do. Operating in the private sector, we know how to ensure ideas are delivered.

We forged a new type of practice to accelerate housing delivery. But we are more than residential experts. We’ve created our own workspace and shop in a converted townhouse in Croydon. Our team have industry-leading experience in destination retail, hospitality, workplace and even hospitals bespoke to teenagers’ needs.

Ensuring there is a planet for future generations drives every decision we make.

How old is your practice? 4 years

Why do you want to take part?

The social disruption of the past year has brought exponential potential for positive change in our workplaces. Who will return to the office, and why? What does the workplace represent to them now?

Common Ground Architecture believes the office is a space for refuge and escapism, for routine and stability, a place of congregation and multi-use. From the community hub to the collaborative centre. A place to choose your destiny.

242 Marylebone Road is a building of integrity which has stood the test of time. We believe in creating workplaces that last and are a part of the city. We have a responsibility to the building, the community, the people who use it, and the planet.

Pump House, South Norwood, London. Credit: Jim Stephenson

NOOMA Studio

Tell us about your practice

NOMMA Studio is a fresh and interdisciplinary collective of architects and creatives with a heartfelt connection to London. We are founded on diversity reflective of the rich cultural mosaic of our home city. We are committed to democratising access to nature, community connection creating spaces designed for wellbeing, with life and colour in all spaces we design.

 How old is your practice?  2 years

Poster for The Big Playground

Why do you want to take part?

Nooma’s founder Ramsey Yassa grew up down the road from 242 Marylebone Road. He remembers walking past it as a child, excited to see Woolworths and wanting to see the toys inside. His mother disappointed him saying there were no toys here, as this was a building designed by architects exclusively for office workers.

Nooma’s dream is to create spaces which bring the spirit of play and collaboration into the work environment, flexible multi-function places which are both workplaces and community hubs.

As a distributed collective we understand the challenges of working in flexible project-based teams. We want to bring our lived experience of this way of work into this project.

Pup

Tell us about your practice

We specialise in projects with a social and cultural focus. This ranges from architecture to interiors, exhibitions and the public realm. Our work is characterful, bold, sustainable and inventive, with a proven track record of bringing positive impacts to communities, individuals and organisations.

We engage critically and thoughtfully with issues that affect the built environment, as demonstrated by our rooftop Antepavilion HVAC, while our work at Surrey Docks Farm exemplifies our civic and sustainable approach.

How old is your practice? 4 years

Surrey Docks Farm. Credit: Simone Bossi

Why do you want to take part?

How we work defines much of how we use our cities. Change the workplace and we can change the way we use our cities. Could they be more ecologically and economically sustainable, and could people be happier?

The balance of work and life, where work takes place and what is even considered work has changed vastly and unevenly during the past half century. The pandemic accelerated this change in multiple directions. Whilst working remotely has altered people’s expectations of both work and the home, it has also brought into sharp focus the value of being together. Collectively these issues prompt us to consider what, and for whom, our workplaces and therefore city centres are for.

We think the brief is extremely pertinent for both the immediate project as well as more widely – we want the chance to develop and showcase some bold ideas.

Studio Dera

Tell us about your practice

Studio Dera is a vehicle for making interesting projects with a non-hierarchical structure where everyone can flourish and contribute to the work and for the work we produce, to contribute something meaningful to the world.

Our approach involves listening to our clients very closely, making sure we really understand their needs and desires in order to make our relationship as collaborative as possible. We pursue a bottom-up organic approach to our projects and see Dera as both an experimental and practical studio which responds to an ever changing and fast moving world.

How old is your practice?  6 months

Why do you want to take part

We think the pandemic has made us rethink everything – the relationship between work, life and wellbeing. Studio Dera was formed out of the pandemic. Both of the founding partners Max Dewdney & Marcel Rahm have considerable experience in running their previous practices and decided to form this new practice out of an urgency for change and greater collaboration to address new challenges.

 

Proposed Nursery, Switzerland. Credit: ©Studio Dera

Studio Dera work in different contexts at different scales and our experience in these different fields places us in a unique position to address the issue of hybrid working and how our design enables cross-fertilisation within the workplace.

Coming from a spatial-design background, we have a unique perspective to offer in delivering architecture that is playful, eye-catching and multi-sensory.