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New Practices #58: A Small Studio

The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone, either through choice or redundancy

A Small Studio, London, SW9

Founded: April 2010

Main people: Helena Rivera

Where have you come from? I left Alsop Architects in 2004 to set up a project on a grant from NESTA’s Graduate Pioneer Programme. I’ve been researching since - mainly on a Collaborative PhD with the Architecture Foundation and The Bartlett (UCL), looking at how we retrofit new towns sustainably, guided by the community.

What work do you have? I’ve just finished a house and artists’ studio in Anapoima, Colombia (pictured) and some consultancy work on sustainable urbanism for an energy company. In London, I have three house extensions and refurbishments; two are listed houses in Islington and another in Dulwich. There is also a very exciting little project to design a children’s play hut and storage unit in Bow, east London, and an interior design job for a new condo in New York.

What are your ambitions? To have enough work to keep the studio going. I don’t care about the size, as long as it’s the right team and an interdisciplinary group of people. I’d like to be known for designing spaces and buildings that improve communities – their livelihoods and the mobility of its users. I’d also like to keep working in Colombia.

How optimistic are you? The great thing about being new and small is that my work hasn’t been pigeon holed. Is it naïve to think we’ll be able to survive on education, residential and cultural schemes? Maybe. But I am fascinated by the challenge of the work, not its typology. On the other hand, I have no idea how small offices get those interesting jobs. Yet.

A Small Studio - house and artists' studio in Colombia

A Small Studio - house and artists’ studio in Colombia

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