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Blurring the lines between reality and fiction: Virtual Reality teaching at National College for Nuclear South (blog By Murtaza Rizvi, Austin-Smith:Lord)

Murtaza discusses our recently completed NCFN Southern Hub – a project in which innovative technology is key to the delivery of specialist skills teaching.


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Tenovus Cancer Care Mobile Chemotherapy Unit: Thinking Outside the Box, Inside the Box (Part II)

After the consultation period, our findings helped steer our design development by identifying the key principles of the brief we needed to satisfy. The biggest challenge throughout this stage was creating design options that would satisfy all of the operational and functional requirements for the unit, whilst being able to be securely stored once the unit was collapsed for transit. We called this stage…EXTREME TETRIS! It forced us to think of unique and creative interior solutions that would not force us to sacrifice the design quality or inhibit the function of the space.



Tenovus Cancer Care Mobile Chemotherapy Unit: Thinking Outside the Box, Inside the Box (Part I). Blog by Olivia Laxton, Austin-Smith:Lord

When the opportunity arose to design the interior of Tenovus Cancer Care’s new mobile support unit (THE LARGEST MOBILE CHEMOTHERAPY UNIT IN THE WORLD!), we were both intrigued and excited. Although we had no prior experience of designing spaces that move about on wheels, our experience in Healthcare interiors and our passion for promoting wellbeing through design made us feel that we were capable of taking on this challenge. We were able to think about the project with no preconceptions and to challenge the industry norms to produce a design that was completely new, pioneering and completely fit for purpose.



Thinking globally, acting locally – the case for regenerating Scotland: Blog by Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord

Have no doubt about it, Scotland is ambitious.

Brave too –bold plans are emerging to create a true 21st-Century, carbonless, super-connected, intellect-driven economy and the infrastructure to run it on.

Scotland has many of the tools she needs to achieve this but she also faces enormous challenges generated by her characteristically extreme contrasts. But visionary planning and coordinated investment is required to realise our ambitions.


Sleep in the Park Logo

Why am I sleeping in the park? Blog by Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord

A team from Architecture and Design Scotland is joining 9,000 others in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, on the 9th of December for the World’s largest ever sleepout to raise funds and awareness about homelessness. In the run up to the event we asked those taking part to outline what motivated them to sign up. Here Graham Ross, partner at Austin-Smith:Lord and depute chair of A&DS, tells his story:


Noreen & Kenneth Murray Library

Time to value design: blog by Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord

Graham Ross, Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord and depute chair of Architecture & Design Scotland, gives his reflections of being a part of A&DS.

This was originally published on the A&DS website as part of a series of blogs by their board members to explain what inspires them, their policy priorities and what they wish their secret built environment super power would be…


Maelfa Fun Day

Youngsters share aspirations for their new community square at the Maelfa Mega Fun Day

Aspiring local community designers were enthusiastic to share their ideas for a new community square in Maelfa.

Blessed by a favourable change in the weather, we had a great time at the Maelfa Mega Fun Day supporting Cardiff Community HA, Jehu Group and Cardiff Council.  It is brilliant to be so directly involved with the community in which we are working and the response to our Heart of Maelfa design ideas workshop was fantastic.


South Lanarkshire College

BREEAM Outstanding South Lanarkshire College: A Case Study (by Catherine Cosgrove, Austin-Smith:Lord)

For this project our brief from South Lanarkshire College was a very simple one – to design a new eight classroom teaching building that achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating. (more…)

The search for the first London Borough of Culture has been launched (by Rob Firman, Austin Smith:Lord)

I wrote in December about mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans for a London Borough of Culture award scheme which aims to encourage and support London Boroughs to invest in the provision of arts and culture infrastructure. Now that the scheme has been formally launched, it seems like a good time to consider what impact the initiative may have on the capital. (more…)

London Brexit

Could industry wide collaboration be part of the solution to tackling Brexit uncertainty?

By Murtaza Rizvi, Chair of RIBA Bristol & Bath and Architect at Austin Smith Lord, Bristol Studio.

Whether as individuals we voted Remain, Leave or not at all, there is one thing on which we can all agree: the vote on Brexit might be over and the decision made, but uncertainty around the implications lingers on. (more…)

Wigan Transport Hub2

Seeing the Wood & the Trees – Landscape with Revit (By Ed Harrison, BIM Manager, Austin-Smith:Lord)

As a multi-disciplinary practice, part of our move to using BIM capable software meant that we had to be able to model anything within the software of choice. We use Autodesk Revit and as most people familiar with the software will know, the landscape side of Revit was never its strong point. The Landscape Institute have been continually working to establish some common methodologies and here at Austin-Smith:Lord we have been developing our own using the LI information as a starting point.


Pagoda dragon

What Keeps Conservation Current and Makes it Count?

It is often said in conservation circles that no two projects are the same. Some, however, are so very different from anything else that they challenge the limits of possibility, dramatically change our approach and experience, and even change people. They are more than just unusual, they are unique.


City Hall London

Event Summary: Priorities for arts and culture in London (by Rob Firman, Austin-Smith:Lord)

I attended Policy Forum’s ‘Priorities for Arts and Culture’ event in Central London earlier this month, which looked at emerging priorities for policy at City Hall and key challenges for the Capital’s cultural sector.



Modern Architecture Meets Ancient Mythology

It might come as some surprise to learn that an aspiring young architect should not only be winning a scholarship in 2016, awarded on their 21st birthday, but be drawing inspiration from events real or imagined that date back as far as the 6th century. For Efa Lois Thomas, however, the links between the places of today and storytelling of the past are both real and rich in ideas.

It’s been an exciting year for the Austin-Smith:Lord Part 1 Architectural Assistant. Efa was awarded the National Eisteddfod scholarship for her concept of creating a Welsh Cultural Centre within a new building on Maryland Street in Liverpool, and she was also asked to feature on a panel for the Trust dedicated to celebrating the works of her idol, Dewi-Prys Thomas, all while settling into her first job in our Cardiff Studio here at Austin-Smith: Lord.


Palace Theatre Swansea

Roadtripping Around Wales Again… (by Rob Firman, Austin-Smith:Lord)

Austin-Smith:Lord has a long and proud record of designing new buildings for the performing arts. Our portfolio of completed work also includes the conversion of a derelict town hall into an arts centre and now, with the completion of the Gaiety in Ayr, our first full restoration and conservation of a listed theatre building.

Working with listed theatre buildings is not, however, a new experience for us. Since I published ‘The Theatres and Performance Buildings of South Wales’ in 2012 recording the physical and economic condition of the 111 surviving theatre buildings in South Wales, I have been a member of the Theatres Trust’s Welsh Theatres Working Party and unofficial ‘Special Advisor’ to the Trust for Theatre Buildings in Wales.



MIPIM UK Round Up: Rio Ferdinand Flies the Flag for Affordable Housing, and more

Whether you were able to make it to MIPIM UK last week or not, Austin-Smith: Lord Partner, Martin Roe, shares an overview of some of the key themes picked up from his visit to the UK’s largest exhibition and conference for property professionals.



By Collaborating We………Co-create (A personal reflection on collaborative practice by Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord)

“Vivendo discimus. Pesando creamus.” – Patrick Geddes

It has often been suggested that cities are humanity’s greatest achievement; furthering civilisation by the exchange of ideas and innovations through collaboration, enabled by proximity.

Architecture, urbanism and planning are fundamentally collaborative disciplines. The design and construction of buildings rarely occurs without collaboration. Place-making and place-mending at a neighbourhood, town, city or regional scale demands it.


Great Pagdoa, Kew

How should we approach conservation? (by David Millar, Austin-Smith:Lord)

I find it both refreshing and reassuring that an inspired individual in New York City has decided to understand and revitalise heritage with the Lowline project gathering pace.  It is an ambitious re-use of a derelict tram line to create an underground park and landscape which re-energises heritage embedded within the city.

Now, I am not saying we must be inventive and find a new use for every piece of heritage that survives. No, just realise that it is important to appreciate and understand our heritage, as it can positively influence our actions and inform our current thinking, which, in turn, can lead to the enrichment of our lives and the environment that surrounds us.

Whilst New York tackles the Lowline project, Austin-Smith:Lord’s conservation architects are currently working on one of the most exciting and important conservation projects within the UK, if not Europe.  It is the restoration of The Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, in London.


GOMA Scaffold Drop 2

Expecting The Unexpected At The Gallery Of Modern Art

We are just about to see the grand reveal after the conclusion of a very interesting and challenging project at one of Scotland’s top attractions and historic buildings, the stunning Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow.

After an extensive series of conservation repairs, the scaffolding that currently covers the clock tower at GoMA will come down, revealing the new look of the 189 year old landmark.


RIAS Spring 2016 CoverREVA

Nicholas Hawksmoor – London Churches (Book Review by Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord)

This book pays homage to the eight remarkable churches built in London to designs by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Constructed following an Act of Parliament in 1711 to build fifty new churches in the city, two of the eight were in collaboration with John James and several were affected by the Blitz, resulting in the demolition of one (St. John Horsleydown). Some have been appropriated for other uses in the meantime.

The centrepiece of this alluring publication is the stunning collection of stills of the seven remaining churches, by the renowned architectural photographer Helene Binet. This portfolio of images are, in their own right, outstanding.