Future of the profession

Yesterday at the RIBA, Carolyn in her role as President of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales met with the other four presidents of the architecture institutes of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to make a commitment to drive forward five shared principles to strengthen and safeguard the future of the profession as follows:-

We, the five Presidents of the Architecture Institutes of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, have come together to critically examine and reassert the role and value of architects in serving clients and society.

We commit to:

  1. Place the public interest and value to society at the heart of all we do
    For the long-term good of society and the built environment we will promote the highest ethical standards and ensure our codes of conduct are continually strengthened, shared amongst other professions and rigorously upheld.
  2. Be accountable, and the Gold Standard
    Our members’ unique ability to understand complex and competing construction criteria and to lead in the design, delivery, management and mitigation of risk in the built environment will ensure that the quality of service we provide is of the highest standard. We will protect the public through being accountable for the work we undertake, and by certifying the quality and safety of the places we design and deliver. We will furnish value to the public through the maintenance of standards within architectural education and by promoting business skills, project management, development finance expertise, building construction, technological innovation and other expertise.
  3. Reflect the diversity of the population in our workforce
    We cannot expect to meet the needs and aspirations of a diverse, inclusive and progressive society unless our workforce reflects its diversity. We will reach out to draw in diverse contributors and create conditions in teaching and practice to enable people from all backgrounds and genders to contribute and prosper on an equal footing. We will ensure that our Institutes are at the forefront of these efforts by adopting reforms and policies that promote diversity and inclusion within our own business practices and taking decisive action when issues arise within the profession.
  4. Research, build and share essential knowledge
    We will develop and disseminate the body of knowledge embedded within the profession to policy makers, members, clients and society in the form of advice, research, knowledge, and experience. We will collaborate, broker and aggregate research and we will communicate, deploy and disseminate our findings to support creativity and innovation in the built environment. We will promote architecture as an economic and cultural asset, reflective of society and vital to its sustainability.
  5. Lead our profession in the fight for a more sustainable built environment
    Humans are using up the world’s dwindling physical resources at an ever-increasing rate. The unrelenting development of the built environment is a major contributor to this and to the pollution of our air, earth and water. We have the expertise and outlook to help lead clients and society to create a sustainable built environment. We will place the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a key guiding principle in all we do, especially UNSDG11, setting an equal right for all to affordable high-quality places to live. We will strive for sustainable design, biodiversity, the conservation of finite resources and the avoidance of polluting activity in the projects we undertake.


Geraint Thomas and Cycling in September

After a great summer for Welsh Cycling enthusiasts with our client Geraint Thomas achieving the yellow jersey at the Tour De France (TdF), we have a number of exciting cycle related blogs to tell you about.

We are working back at St Tewdrics in Chepstow for Geraint on the wedding venue created out of an Italianate villa as a business for him when his career eventually comes to an end, although it is good to report that there is little sign of this happening soon.

Inside St Tewdrics

We held a function in our new office for our many clients and fellow consultants interested in cycling during the TdeF watching one of the shortest stages. We let our clients try out our Virtual Reality kit with 3D films from last years Tour and give them a feel for the possibilities of the experience.  It was a great event and Geraint duly won the stage, taking the yellow jersey for the first time during the Tour making it a memorable afternoon for all.

Nic Downs (founder partner) will be cycling 600km plus down the West Coast of the USA from San Francisco to LA next week, in aid of Velindre Cancer Care Charity – links to his My Donate website are here. To help raise further funds Carolyn has painted Geraint winning Stage 19 of the Tour and we have created a limited edition poster of this which ‘G’ has individually signed.  If you are interested in having a your own signed print, please make a £75 donation and let us know your address.  Nic will be updating us with a few Blogs during this epic ride.


Virtual Reality Experience

Although we do all our work in three dimensions and produce many sketches and virtual images which are taken directly off the computer model, clients frequently can’t imagine what the final spaces will feel like.

We have just invested in the both the software and hardware to be able to provide a high resolution Virtual Reality experience our designs. We use this both as an internal design tool as well as a means of presentation to clients.  There is a small extra charge for this as we have to model up more of the interiors than we would normally carry out but the reactions from the clients who have experienced it is very positive.

We use a full headset and a dual screen so that we can see what the user is experiencing. It really is a fully immersive experience and gives a much better idea about the spaces that we are aiming to create. client’s are actually in the virtual model and can look and walk to experience the design before anything has been built.  If you’d like to find out more please get in touch




Summer update

During the best summer in years, and with temperatures in the 30’s, our new offices have been kept wonderfully cool with a good level of cross ventilation. It has been sometimes difficult to keep the focus on the work with all the lovely weather, but we have had an interesting range of projects to look at.

Two more one-off houses in Cardiff have been submitted and received planning as well as a number of extensions.   On site, the four houses at Priam Lodge are being marketed and just about handed over;  we have an interesting project in Llangorse Road, Cardiff updating a fabulously modern, late 1960s house sympathetically to current day standards. 

We have also been working on the former Habitat building in the Hayes, Cardiff looking to convert the restaurant to office use and have submitted a planning application.  This building was built originally as a Fish Market in the 1800’s and is listed. we have looked at integrating the restaurant fit out and lovely cast iron columns with InCoPro’s (a hi tech office) requirements and generated this early view of the interior

Brook House shortlisted for the 2018 Welsh Architecture Awards

We’re delighted to announce that Brook House has been shortlisted for the RSAW 2018 Welsh Architecture Awards, the first round of the RIBA Awards that culminate in the Stirling Prize and House of the Year competitions.

We are up against 5 other great projects from Wales for a Regional Award, and the results will be announced on the 31st May in Cardiff. Wish us luck!!

January blues

Its been a wet soggy start to the year, but we are enjoying working in our new offices and particularly the spiral staircase up to the main space which we designed to be constructed out of ply sheets and put together by  Woodspec in only 2 days on site.  

Projects recently in for planning include a new energy park  – Parc Calon Gwyrdd (Green Heart Park)  which is for a Combined Heat and Power station supplying both electric and thermal energy for future developments.  We also have a new building for St Denys Church in for planning which comprises new meeting rooms with two small flats over.  Both will hopefully get approval next month

We also received permission for a house extension in Cyncoed which will imminently start on site and have received instructions to commence two further new houses in Cardiff which will shortly be submitted for planning.

So a good start to the New Year!

Downs Merrifield move offices

Part of the original plan when we designed Ty Oriel was to have the ability to extend over the garage in future. Having set up our own practice working from home in 2014, workload increased and after only 18 months we moved into the Creative Quarter to accommodate our expanding team.  After the past good year, we have been able to bring forward our initial plans and have now built ourselves a bespoke office in Cyncoed.

In the week before Christmas, we hired a van, dismantled our office and moved into the new premises.  Our telephone number remains the same, and the postal address can be found on our website


Brook House completed

We have recently completed our Brook House project. Designed by project architect Rob Boltman, as his own family home, this ultra-contemporary 4-bed house sits in the Penylan area of Cardiff.

The house has strong environmental credentials being super-insulated – scoring a SAP rating of 85 and air tightness tested at 1.3. It was constructed off-site by Advanced Housing Systems in Devon, with the frame erected on site in three weeks and was occupied only four months later.

It makes the most of its park setting and south facing aspect with large amounts of glazing to the central hall and landing,which links the two natural stone and slate-coloured Equitone cladding cubes, referencing the materials of the existing garden wall and the surrounding houses.


Summer Update

Summer is supposed to be a quiet time, when contractors have their shut down and clients go on holiday….  Not this year however as we seem to be busier than ever with a raft of new projects on the drawing board, and others nearing completion.

We have four projects nearing completion, Park Road, Harrismith Road, Kelston Road and Westville Walk so we’ve been kept very busy with the contractors on site ensuring that they have all the information they need to enable that to happen.  The next blog will hopefully show some completed pictures of these houses

The two houses on the Isle of Sky, ever delayed by the vagaries of the highland weather, are finally nearing completion and look fantastic on a clear day.  

Projects on the drawing board……

Not that we use drawing boards any more, but we have some exciting new projects which we are currently working on.  The first is a large sustainable house in Gloucestershire/ Warwickshire.  This is currently going through the pre-planning stages, but will be what is called a ‘paragraph 55’ house ie a ‘one off’ sustainable house with exemplary design standards and which adds to the setting.  More information to follow once the project gets into the formal planning system…..


We are also looking at two student flats developments and a master-plan for an industrial area in South Wales.    In the meantime we have been shortlisted for the Constructing Excellence Wales award for rejuvenation and preservation for our Penally Project in West Wales (see below).