This is our opportunity to communicate with you directly about what is happening at OWLA and of course our projects. It also enables us to provide comment and guidance on topical issues.
15 Sept 2023
You need to read this – really you do. Despite (?!) being written by an economist it is accessible and engaging. What it does is equipe you for both the here and now and the future. Thinking of investment? My money (now) would be on sub-sea mining.
21 Apr 2023
Heat Pumps (blame the small print)
Stories of heat pump disaffection abound – ‘it’s cold, my energy bills have increased.’ Assuming it is not damaged it is not the fault of the technology but a product of incentivisation. The UK is purported to have the worst housing stock in Europe a fact we in the main would need to endorse. It also has (or did have) some fairly bold decarbonisation pledges.
13 Oct 2022
Energy Performance sCam (EPC)
Any of you ever wonder about the efficacy of these things? You need one to sell a house, there is a duty to display them in commercial properties and any new rental property will need to achieve a C rating by 2025 and any existing rental property by 2028. They feature a bar chart grading much like an appliance (the score being linked to a notional SAP rating) together with property details and various ways in which you might improve your score. Whilst there is no doubt there are some real professionals out there the general level of competence amongst assessors for the house buying public I would argue is poor but then nobody really appears to care as it is at best another cost. It will matter to renters given they will now have an expectation of performance relative to energy costs and rightly so. In time the market too may have due regard as better performing properties (bearing in mind the stock, new and old is pretty poor) may attract a higher price. It also matters to me because it makes little sense of energy targets and the status quo. Having recently been immersed in the property market I have some experience and here it is.
4 Jul 2022
What with war, inflation and an energy crisis we now have the new Building Regulations, a since aborted review ‘ala Gove’ of the NPPF (beautiful) and suggestions of a fundamental overhaul of planning policy (welcomed but be careful what you wish for). There are anecdotes from both sides of the fence – client’s sensing a further imposition on their lifestyles (‘the Chinese dictating how we live’?) to builders predicting a 10% increase in costs while lamenting a happier time when there was no need to demonstrate compliance. And us? We just see it as business as usual then.
25 Mar 2022
We clearly haven’t learnt any lessons from the Marble Arch Mound if some of the Unboxed (‘open, original, optimistic’) proposals are to go by. A decommissioned oil rig will spout trees in Weston-super-Mare for example. Why and what is Unboxed?
20 Dec 2021
Richard Rogers, Architect
Richard Rogers was a big deal when I was at school. He and Norman Foster were the first Starchitects that I think the sixties gave birth to in a unique way.
12 Dec 2021
IT AIN’T EASY
A bag of the Anglian Lime Company’s ready mix, some trowels, a pointing tool and a stiff brush. Something of a practical training day in the Dark Arts. We all had a go, the only thing missing was any actual ability (a source of amusement for some).
10 Dec 2021
CSR and Zero Carbon
We have been thinking about our responsibilities as a business and as an advisor of others. What can we do, what should we do? We understand the crude answer is use less but to do that we must do more. Clearly there are wider benefits in a community sense to sharing ideas as to how we get to Net Zero as it is fast becoming something (even if only in legislative terms) that will impact on us all.
21 Nov 2021
COP, Future Homes and Self Build
A commitment to limit global temerature rise to 1.5 degrees is looking a bit shaky. At COP, the UK government pledged to provide assistance to poorer nations and to stop burning coal for electricity generation by 2024.
Best Made Plans
So COVID came along and as a proportion of our work is in residential care a lot stopped. But we didn’t and slowly things are returning to a new normal and despite an uncertain future new opportunities are already presenting themselves.
Take 5 at 40
OWL Architects is 40 and OWLA 5 this year. Five projects for the year will include a community building (10 years in inception), a clutch of interesting residential projects, a church reordering (8 years in the making) and the design stage of a new care scheme in Hastings. And of course, MEH (pictured) should complete.
OWLA’s directors took a much anticipated trip to Japan in September 2019. Whilst Tokyo and Osaka do not fail to deliver the full-on metropolitan experience, Kyoto delivers a more traditional one with the notable exception of Hiroshi Hara’s train station.
This is a big hole; perhaps the largest we have dug? The underlying geology is chalk meaning it is inherently stable though a good deal of temporary works were necessary to safely create and consolidate it. We now plan to fill it in.
OWLA received a design commendation for their work on the new CHALLS building in Hadleigh. The award was presented by RIBA Suffolk and the presentation involved a short film including aerial views of the completed building.
Click here to view in high resolution (on Vimeo website).
All Soaned Out
OWLA are delighted to be involved with one of the few classical buildings attributable to Sir John Soane in Suffolk. The Music Room (originally) an Orangery within the grounds of Earsham Hall has been undergoing conservation for some years and the final phase in conjunction with conversion of nearby workshops is now moving forward.
In October 2017 OWLA’s presence was finally felt north of the Arctic circle given the practice’s sponsorship of a charity expedition to a volcano located in the northern polar regions.
OWLA’s second building for Challs International was opened in August 2017 with a launch party involving several hundred guests, television cameras and the presence of the Hadleigh Mayor and MP James Cartlidge. The building is a new headquarters and production facility for the company following the dramatic fire in 2015 that destroyed its administrative base. The opening accompanied the news that they are now the UK’s no.1 supplier of domestic cleaning products.
OWLA moved to new freehold premises in Bungay in spring 2017. The Business Centre in Staithe Road has a large studio space arranged over open plan meeting and administrative accommodation at ground level. The move means the practice is better placed between Norwich, Ipswich and the Heritage Coast and both follows the transition from partnership to company status in 2015 and reflects a new company direction.
Further to a recommendation for refusal, OWLA were able to gain unanimous consent at committee for a new live / work unit in the countryside. Planning policy both regionally and nationally severely restricts development outside of settlements and whilst consents for similar proposals have been successful in urban areas but no such precedent existed for areas of designated countryside. Until now!