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2020 HAA Awards

Community Civic

Atelier Architecture & Design





Having to be suitable for all weathers and seasons, it needs ample lighting – as much natural as possible – shading for climate control and to avoid glare, and copious natural ventilation. All these features help to provide the needed large enclosure which serves to reassure nervous riders as well as horses with behavioural challenges, on which specialist advice was incorporated into the design.

The design rises to this challenge with a series of innovative construction techniques, materials and devices, many used here for the first time on an equestrian centre in the UK. These include an exo-skeleton made from a glulam timber frame to make a large, clear internal span, ringed by floor to ceiling curtain walling which allows light in and views out. It also gives a low pitch to the roof, reducing the impact in the landscape and effect on the farmhouse which remains the most important part of the composition.


The form provides natural shading (for instance from overhanging eaves) which together with ridge-venting, solar controlled glass, louvres and a super-insulated roof means the building can be adequately ventilated without mechanical assistance.



Chambers Goodwin and Partners




This project which was completed in summer 2019 is one of the most complex of any refurbishment contracts that we have undertaken since our practice was formed over 37 years ago. The complexity was partly because of the very dilapidated state of the properties – some of them empty for over 20 years - and partly because of the nature of the contract under which we were operating.

The site is located in the Berkhamsted Conservation Area and is in prominent view on the main street through the town. The refurbishment of 9-13 High Street was part of a larger housing development undertaken by Dacorum Borough Council, including the adjacent block of 9 new flats on the corner of the High Street and Swing Gate Lane. The site of the flats had been vacant for a number of years and used as a parking lot. The three houses, which adjoin an attractive terrace of houses to the east, were near derelict. One, No.13, had been a post office many years previously. The others had been used as offices and stores of a car repair business. All three had been locally listed because of their character and location in the Conservation Area. No 11 was of considerable historic interest with its age assessed as 17th century but the original fabric could not be explored and dated without further stripping out and investigation.


The whole site was sold to a developer and it was the subject of a planning application lodged in 2015 by BHP Architects proposing 11 dwellings– 9 new flats and 2 dwellings, refurbished from the three houses. After a number of modifications to the design, planning consent was granted in 2017 and subsequently Dacorum obtained the site for affordable housing. 


After a preliminary appraisal of the original scheme we recommended to Dacorum that the three houses would lend themselves to conversion into three smaller individual dwellings similar to the existing division.  This would suit the Council`s housing needs better than the first proposal for two larger houses. As well as the revised plan for the houses the new application included the removal of the early 20th century shop front of No 9 and its replacement with a new door and window openings set in brickwork.


It was the close liaison between “the team” – client, Modplan, BPM, ourselves and the Conservation Officer - that enabled the skilled and meticulous work to be progressed and the refurbishment contract was eventually completed in July 2019. Understandably the works had considerably exceeded the original programme.

Feedback from the client is that the design of the three houses works well and they are very popular with tenants.


The scheme received an Award from the Berkhamsted Citizens Association in March 2020 which would suggest that it has also won support from the general public. We believe that No 11 High Street is to be added to Historic England`s statutory list.



Michael Collins Architect LLP



We were appointed to transform a cramped coach house located on a challenging corner site with in Hitchin’s conservation area into a generous family home. This project was an opportunity to illustrate how a property known affectionately by neighbours as the ‘ugly house’ could change its fortunes to become a spacious and sustainable contribution to the street.

The existing property was constructed in the 1960s as a two bedroom flat accessed by an rear stair, with a triple garage set below. A series of awkward level changes and later additions blocked access between the property and its small garden area.

This project required the creation of a new four bedroom home that would be unique to our clients, a young family of Californian, and Finnish descent.

This transformation was to be undertaken using a highly limited budget, and using environmentally sustainable materials and systems throughout.

Key requirements involved; two distinct office spaces for the clients who work from home, (a journalist and environmental consultant). There was a desire to create spaces that were open and light in addition to spaces for retreat that were darker and more intimate.


A large family living area was required that benefited from the immediate garden area but also the wider garden setting to allow local wildlife to be viewed. A new sauna, cool-off/shower area were also a pre-requisite


Design methodology:

  • ‘Retro-first’ The design aimed to up-cycle as much of the existing built structure as possible, avoid building extensions to reduce embodied energy impacts and costs.

  • A ‘hidden’ house: The creation of a spatially rich interior within the relatively simple and prosaic shell.

  • Key conceptual touchstones were the intimacy of Finnish forest cabins and the light qualities of traditional Californian stucco homes.

  • Sunny-side up’:The existing kitchen was retained, and the upper level transformed into a new loft-like living space benefiting from a south facing aspect and views and access to light from the roof area. The roof area was opened to the living areas to create a new office mezzanine. The structure of the existing garages was utilised to create the new bedrooms on the ground floor with access to the small garden.

  • A new ‘thermal jacket’: A highly insulated front elevation and rear extension were incorporated. These pieces were clad in a dark charred timber finish.

  • A complimentary contrast to the site: The project did not seek to mimic the adjacent Victorian and Edwardian properties. The new charred timber wrap marks a departure from the context but also relates to the dark timber detailing of existing arts and crafts properties. The simplicity of the existing mid century detailing was expressed by reconfiguring rainwater goods and installing new flush glazing systems in combination with the charred cladding. This dark exterior aimed to contrast with a warm lighter interior.

  • Solar gain is balanced with solar shading devices along the rear elevation. These devices also provide privacy to the adjacent gardens.

  • Chemical preservatives were avoided; The cladding system ‘Kebony’ uses organic preservatives and has a 30 year lifespan which is enhanced by the charring process.

  • Existing steel elements were inspected upcycled and re coated to the rear lookout area.

  • Timber construction was used rather than masonry systems, derived from FSC certified sources.

  • Rockwool insulation (BRE green guide ‘A‘ rated) was used to the exterior elements in lieu of PIR insulation products.

  • Internal paints are based on VOC free systems.

  • A new biodiverse terrace is supplied by a new hydroponic system, and all drainage is discharged into a new SUDS system that supplies the wild flower garden



Nicholas Tye


51 Deerings, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL52PF


Environmental factors are increasingly important in everyday life, and architecture is no exception; our passivhaus design not only looks beautiful but was created with sustainability and efficiency in mind. 


This elegant and robust solution to a generous plot was afforded an easier planning process with plenty of local neighbourhood and planning support. The replacement dwelling brings innovation and quality to the local housing mix.

The modern design incorporates larch timber cladding providing privacy on the north elevation and more generous glazing to the rear creating light-filled spaces and a deliberately Scandinavian timber finish internally with great attention to detail. The clever screen design allowed for a balcony to the rear and the impressive chimney above the feature fireplace.

The finished result is a low maintenance, holistically designed solution that provides a truly wonderful family home. The planning process for a passivhaus, or in fact any design with an emphasis on efficiency, can be much smoother with less likelihood of being rejected by neighbours as well as the council. There is electric car charging and even a Passivhaus-specific cat flap: air pressure and insulation are vital with this design concept. Sustainable residential architecture is the way forward! 

Commercial Housing



Beaumont Gardens


The development features the conversion of the Grade II listed former Nicholson and Co. factory that dates from the beginning of the 20th century. Two new apartment buildings sit on land to the rear, designed to complement the Listed building and also sit comfortably with the existing housing further along the road. 58 new apartments are created overall

The façade, with its decorative Dutch Gables and elaborate detailing, conceals a simple north-lit roof, both of which had survived in relatively good condition. The conversion inserts two new courtyards into the main space, providing entrances to the apartments.