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Ex-FAT chief faces legal challenge over ‘Ordinary Architecture’ name

Former FAT director Charles Holland has become embroiled in a legal row over the name of his new practice

After Holland named his new business Ordinary Architecture an existing East London-based practice trading under the name Ordinary instructed lawyers, claiming the similarity could be confusing.

Holland set up his firm in January this year following the sudden split of Postmodernist practice FAT (AJ 16.12.13). But, just months after launching the new practice Holland and co-founder Elly Ward have been handed a cease and desist letter. The letter, sent to the duo by Ordinary’s legal representatives, says they must stop doing business under the Ordinary Architecture name or face legal action.

Ordinary, founded in 2011 by Architectural Association alumni Alex Kaiser and Magnus Larsson, claims Holland has ignored attempts to contact him. Larsson said: ‘We’ve done several architecture and interior projects that, while not stuck within an archaic Postmodern framework, could fairly easily be confused with the designs of Holland’s office. When we realised that Charles Holland had added the word “Architecture” to our name and registered his new practice with Companies House, we instantly sent him a friendly email asking him to please use a different name. We then quite sensibly invited him to the Ordinary studio for a cup of tea to explain that we had already produced, taught, and published architecture under the name Ordinary for years.’

Larsson claims Holland ‘s response was ‘pretty depressing’. He said: ‘Holland won’t accept that our two firms  – he has moved in less than 2.5km from us – might get confused both today and as we grow. Furthermore he has chosen to simply ignore our attempts to resolve the situation in a friendly way. I’d much rather spend my time designing buildings than wasting it discussing legal matters.’

However, Holland maintained there was no chance of the work of the two practices becoming confused. He said: ‘We’ve looked into this and been advised there is no issue regarding the name and there is little chance of our work being confused with theirs.’

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