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


Westville Walk completed

We have recently completed our Westville Walk project. Designed by project architect Rob Boltman, as his own family home, this ultra-contemporary 4-bed house sits in the Roath Mill Gardens conservation 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).

Site Progress Update



Park Road

We have seven projects on site at the moment.  Park Road which started in October now has the roof largely complete and the windows go in next week, the zinc cladding is complete on the main building and the first fix has started. This project is on programme to finish late summer 2017. The weather has been great this winter for construction with few days lost for rain.  This is particularly important for Park Road since it has on an exposed site overlooking the Bristol Channel with little shelter.                                                                         Also under construction at the moment is Lon Ysgabor and Harrismith Road both of which should be complete by September.



The new house on Westville Walk, is being constructed using a timber frame by Advanced Housing Systems which has been built off-site.  The slab (poured last month) is an unusual construction in that the insulated formwork was also made in a factory and clipped together on site.  The underfloor heating was then fixed to the base of the formwork and the concrete slab uses fibres rather than steel reinforcement to strengthen it.  This is much more environmentally friendly than the normal method of building a slab and foundations and much more thermally efficient. The house was delivered on the back of a lorry last week, and in 2 days the entire ground floor walls and first floor deck was constructed.  They are back next week to complete the upper floors and the roof.

Westville Walk