show sidebar & content

Biodiveristy – Hindrance or Opportunity?

01 Oct 2014 / in News

Yesterday evening we attended an eye opening masterclass about Biodiversity considerations within developments, with Dr Steve Holloway, the principle Ecology Consultant from SLR.

Age old prejudices between developers and ecologists were disbanded as it became clear that both sides were seeking a pragmatic solution. Every developer in the room had run into difficulties with Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) over biodiversity matters in the past. All of which seemed to largely be attributed to the local councils being without the specialists to provide site specific information and solutions. If the LPAs can be provided with the correct evidence, put into local and national perspective, and the proposal provides a proportionate and directed response to that, the council can have no objection.

The revealing undercurrent of the discussion was the need for a good Architect, who is able to combine the best ecological solution with the most profitable and constructive development strategy. This will allow site specific surveys from an Ecological Consultant to be balanced with an understanding of the developers market and brief.   A talented architect can address the biodiversity issues in a targeted way, allowing intervention to enhance or offset the ecological needs in a sensible way.

Living Space Design with McCarthy & Stone

Top Tips for getting planning permission on a challenging, biodiverse site -

1. Get some site specific Biodiversity Surveys

2. Get in contact with an Ecology Consultant to put that survey data into proper perspective. Yes, all bat species are under an umbrella of protection… but not every species is rare. The Ecology Consultant can provide the evidence the council need to put the current wildlife data, and the impact the new proposal would have on these, into proportion.

3. Don’t just provide Biodiversity Enhancements for the sake of it, work with the Ecology Consultant to define the areas and species on site which are worth maintaining and will flourish in future improving. This could well save you throwing away money or valuable land to a wildflower meadow which may never even see a butterfly.

4. Think more widely about the areas surrounding the site. Is there a remarkable area next to your site, which you can improve further? This offsetting of ecological value will mean less restriction to your development plans on site.

5. Consider the boundary edges of site or connecting pathways through site can be more help to the local wildlife than a designated expansive area.

6. Include a long term plan. Show the LPAs your scheme goes above and beyond by including a maintenance plan.

7. Know your literature. The  S41 List will be a great place to start, revealing all habitats and 943 species of principal importance. But for actual legislation you will need to look elsewhere. Get hold of a copy of the British Standard 42020, and prove that you are compliant with the codes.

8. Present your evidence well. If you have carefully considered what interventions will be most beneficial for the site, show evidence of it, and show it clearly.

Alex Baker, Architectural Designer, Living Space Architects

Designing for a Lifetime

12 Sep 2014 / in News, Uncategorized

“Let’s face it – we do not need special architecture for old people, we need the right architecture for all ages. The problem with designing environments specifically for older people is that nobody wants to move into them: they are the last resort, not the first choice. ”

Matthias Hollwich with Matthew Hoff man , AD Designing for the Third Age

Very much like the UK the US is on the brink of demographic transformation, with the bulging generation of baby boomers about to reach retirement.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 17.15.12

The nursing home at BOOM with an accessible clubbing wall, yes you did read that!

We are interested in the views of HWKN a New York based architects practice who suggest that attitudes and approaches to ageing have to change and that old age needs to be ‘acknowledged as a state of human existence’ that fully ‘deserves preparation, anticipation and excitement’

Today’s nursing homes could be described as ‘homey’ environments, a type of model that is now becoming unacceptable to the new older generation, sometimes described as the ‘baby boomers’.  Having questioned various aspects of society on the 1960s they are not prepared to age gracefully by being placed in unappealing and often lonely homes for the elderly.  For a lot of people including my own parents this is the last place they would want to end up.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 17.32.48

New homes at BOOM in Palm Springs

HWKN are designers and instigators of a bold New Community being built in America called BOOM. BOOM is geared towards creating stunningly designed communities, spearheading a new way to engage with architecture at a later age by prototyping a self-determined, hyper-social, and satisfying future.

This ground breaking development is designed with a very specific part of the market in mind.  The development is lesbian and gay friendly, although it is by no means solely designed for this section of society and is proving popular with all open minded boomers who want to live a full and active life at retirement.Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 17.58.50


Conservation Expertise

04 Sep 2014 / in Uncategorized

Kirsty Curnow Bayley is now an official RIBA-acredited Conservation Registrant, having completed a specialist RIBA Conservation course in Bath. This adds to Kirsty’s expertise having worked on many historic and listed buildings in the region and in London. Kirsty is currently working on an extension to a listed Georgian terraced house in St Leonard’s in Exeter and the extension and refurbishment of a thatched listed longhouse in Thorverton in Mid Devon as well as the refurbishment of a listed office building on Southernhay. Kirsty said “I am delighted to have been accepted onto the register and pleased to have been able to extend my existing knowledge in Bath”.

Trends in Later Living Design

11 Jul 2014 / in News, Uncategorized

With the number of people over 60 within our country continuing to rise it is important for designers and developers to look fully at the needs of this section of the population.  A large proportion of our clients are retired and through our work with them we have found that a lot of the previous assumptions that were made by developers about the types of space that they need and want are completely wrong.  This article touches on the research we have completed into this and some of the themes and trends within this growing sector.

017-LSA_StokePoges_Bonus_05Our clients are passionate about good design and want to make sure their homes are reflective of their continuing active lifestyles.  They want to feel they have a home that is the envy of their friends and that they can show off to family and relatives.  Older people also want to feel current and up to date in their choices – in fact in our experience older clients are more adventurous than the younger clients and families we work with.  Perhaps that’s because this is their opportunity to have exactly what they want without considering a future purchaser or how the market might develop.  It’s also important to remember that a lot of these clients were exposed to contemporary design over 50 years ago and aren’t afraid to be bold in their choices.

So what are the older generation looking for in their homes right now?  We are designing several new houses at the moment for retired and older clients and the following is an overview of the types of brief we are being given and the trends we are seeing.

Top Trends

017-LSA_StokePoges_Bonus_04 copyDouble height spaces with views of the sky are in high demand.  Where as some developers might see this as a waste of space, our clients value the fact that this creates spaces that give us a better sense of well being and are uplifting to the spirit.

Open plan spaces with room for a large table, somewhere to sit for coffee and a lovely large contemporary kitchen with all the latest gadgets.

Cold rooms and larders are extremely popular now with lots of shelves – along the lines iconic larder in Nigela Lawson’s cookery programmes.  These rooms naturally need to be placed on the north side of the house where possible and some clients are adding temperature controls.

Lots and lots of storage space is essential and storage rooms, corridors and storage walls feature as a part of our designs.  We all accumulate so much stuff these days and the traditional loft space is becoming a thing of the past with open ceilings and mezzanines taking it’s place.  A house with plenty of storage is now preferable to a house with plenty of toilets!  Developers take note.

017-LSA_StokePoges_02_01Timber frame and kit houses are being requested by clients a lot.  The likes of Baufritz and Hans Haus are premium products with a price to match, but the ease and speed with which they are constructed makes them a popular choice.

Sustainable design is crucial to older clients, they understand that they have the opportunity to make sure their homes will be cheaper to run and better for the environment; not just for them but for their families in the future.  This is not eco-bling or add on features, but ensuring that the fabric of the house is well insulated and sealed beyond building regulations requirements and that the materials used are sourced responsibly.  Again the fact that a lot of the technology is cutting edge is a real attraction – our clients want to be ahead of the game and enjoy being new adopters.

We have frequently heard it said that if you design a product that appeals to a younger person today it will also be attractive to an older person.  Age is now irrelevant what is important is good design.  What this doesn’t take account of is that the older generation actually want to be ahead of the game, they want to be the ones taking risks and trying out new technology first.   In my mind that makes designing for later living the most exciting sector to be working in right now.   It could offer the opportunity for design, research and development that will help us create homes and environments that are better for all sections of the community.

Designing for Later Living

11 Jul 2014 / in Uncategorized

This is the first in a series of blog posts looking at the theme of design for later living, or how we could be designing for an increasing ageing population.

Over the last 10 years, like many young architectural practices we found ourselves cutting out teeth within the private residential sector.  As we have moved on to larger and more commercial projects we have found that our knowledge of this sector has given a huge amount of valuable research that can be translated into larger projects.

We have had the opportunity to develop detailed briefs for over 400 private clients within the residential sector and over 70% of these have been older clients.  This has bee a fantastic resource for a larger retirement projects and proved fruitful when we became finalists in the McCarthy & Stone re-imagining ageing competition last year.  We have subsequently written articles for the architectural press and provided research for clients such as Pegasus Life and other later living developers.

We have spent time analysing themes and trends within this sector and are now getting the opportunity to translate these into projects on site including our work with J&M homes in Tavistock where we are helping them create a development of 14 later living apartments and houses.

The next 5 posts will look at the themes we have been looking at and the research we have gone on to complete.  Themes include how to encourage active ageing within design, trends within relocation, looking to other countries such as the Middle East who are ahead of the UK in their approach to design for this sector and if retirement villages are the right solution for housing our ageing population.

We have moved to a new office.

30 Jun 2014 / in Uncategorized

Having outgrown our office in the Senate we have now moved to 18 Southernhay West where we have a lovely new studio and  Interior designer Hannah Martin is helping us with our fit out.

Living Space Architects was established in 2004 in Plymouth with the aim of creating vibrant contemporary architecture that is appropriate for its site, its history and its environment. We relocated to Exeter in 2010 and have continued to grow.  After 4 years in the Forsyth Centre in the Senate we finally outgrew the space and wanted to find a new office better suited to the way we work.  Our new office is on the 2nd floor of one of the beautiful terraces on Southernhay and we now have views of the garden and the Cathedral to inspire us.

The team at Living Space Architects hope you will have a chance to visit us soon.

18 Southernhay West, Exeter, EX1 1PJ. Telephone : 01392 270420

Silver Linings

09 May 2014 / in News

A few months ago the RIBA published it’s latest Buildings Futures Research focussing on the way our towns and cities will change in response to the increase in the number of people over 60.  Over the next 20 years they state that the number of people over 60 will grow by 40%, but what impact will this have on the places we live?  The research focuses on  our towns and cities, but we wondered if it could also be relevant to more rural communities in the south west?



Grassroots Football

09 May 2014 / in News

Investing in youngsters

As you read the latest football news, it notes radical proposals for the restructuring of English football in the report of the FA commission. This is an important issue for us “If Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s Commission really wants to study why fewer English youngsters are breaking through into the country’s top teams, it may want to consider the importance of the facilities on which the next generation of footballers depend”blog1

In one of our recent projects at Tavistock Community Football Club, the principle aim has been to facilitate the development of essential football playing facilities and junior involvement for Tavistock and the surrounding areas of Devon.

We have created 12 new pitches with new ground levelling and grading works to encourage good natural drainage on the flat new playing fields.


blog9 blog10



The pitches redevelopment project remodelled the end of the swale to allow water to exit the field and to retain the features of the floodplain of the local area. Previously rainfall had run off the compacted plateau into the central swale and collected a considerable depth, causing a bund of soil at the end of the swale preventing escape.

The new Tavistock Community Football Club building creates a  building that is easy to find your way around and allows the children to be easily monitored and controlled.  Issues of child protection are very important in a scheme of this kind and the changing facilities have been developed in line with current Football Foundation guidelines to ensure the children’s safety, especially on days where the building is used by both the CRA and TFC.

As well as providing safe areas, by creating communal facilities and a combined entrance, the scheme encourages more integration between the clubs and the opportunity for junior players to feel they are part of an organisation, where they can progress to a higher level in the game as they develop.  Communal facilities at first floor create areas for coaching and for new members evenings.  They also create spaces where both clubs can come together for social events, something that is currently not possible, as the existing TFC Black and Red Club is a licensed facility and therefore not open to children.

A community room was provided giving the overall importance of this complex for football senior/junior coaching; social events; committee meetings; fund raising events. Its prime use is for football development in the area – however more widely it is able to house community and business functions as a whole to provide an income stream for football development.

TFC, Tavistock Fotball Club, Devon, UK, December 2009, Joakim Boren PhotographyTFC, Tavistock Fotball Club, Devon, UK, December 2009, Joakim Boren PhotographyTFC, Tavistock Fotball Club, Devon, UK, December 2009, Joakim Boren PhotographyTFC, Tavistock Fotball Club, Devon, UK, December 2009, Joakim Boren Photography

Grand Designs Live 2013

03 Oct 2013 / in Uncategorized

We were thrilled to be asked to exhibit again at this year’s Grand Designs Live in Birmingham, Stuart is busy putting up the stand today and we will be there from Friday 4th until Sunday 6th.  Every year we get to meet lots of great people who are looking for an architect to help them design their new home.  We’ll be offering design advice, budget cost information and tips for helping you achieve planning consent.  Come and find us on stand B943 in the Grand Build Section.

What’s in a name – Living Space

10 Jul 2013 / in Uncategorized

Why Living Space Architects
The name relates to our own desire as architects to create spaces that are alive with energy and activity. It is after-all the activity and events that happen in spaces that make them special and our architecture is a backdrop to this, an enabler if you like. I think a lot of people think we chose the name Living Spacearchitects because we specialise in residential architecture, in fact we don’t specialise in this area at all although naturally as a young practice we do a lot of residential work.

As a student I was fascinated by writings by Architects like Tschumi – event cities etc. Tschumi said architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event, action, and what happens in space. I designed an ice factory in the back streets of west end London with an ice wall that crashed to the ground every day nada yearly ice festival. It was the idea of history, memory, and event making a place special through its architecture and buildings being a dynamic part of this not just bystanders. Obviously as a student you were expected to make a scale model of said ice factory along with real ice, which I then decided to hang from the ceiling. Questions like how much does a sq m of ice really weigh and what is the load bearing capacity of the studio ceiling had to be asked as well as what happens when it melts on the floor.

Living space follows on from this with its practice, creating spaces not just as a backdrop but as places where people can interact and where things happen, ideas are created, friendships are formed and strengthened and life lived to the full. This may be a dining room extension or a more complex design for a performing arts centre, but the essence of a dynamic, living form of space remains and enriches our design process to create forms that resonate with our clients and the building users.