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'Pain, tenacity and low fees but we love small projects' say Brooks and Adams

Alison Brooks and Ben Adams gave their insight into practice at last night’s AJ Small Projects launch

‘Pain, tenacity, low fees and favours feature largely in small projects’ said Alison Brooks, speaking at the launch of the AJ Small Projects competition last night.

However she added she would never ‘do anything for friends, family or free.’

Brooks said she uses small projects as a vehicle for experimentation, and as a chance to research methods and details which could be implemented on larger projects.

The Stirling Prize-winner said: ‘The essential thing is to always try something completely new’.

Ben Adams spoke about how his practice had started small, but had grown through working on small projects. His projects varied in size from an individual door handle to a chair for Vitra and to studios and house extensions.

Adams said: ‘If you are going to work on small projects then they have to be as high-profile as possible’.

He added: ‘You can’t predict the ones that will become the all encompassing project’.

Both architects stressed that it could be impossible to know which projects would become big projects, or which would lead to further work. Alison Brooks original appointment for the VXO House, which won an RIBA award, was for a bookshelf, yet this grew to become a house extension and garden pavilion, becoming the key project which got the practice onto the Stirling Prize winning team for Accordia.

Brooks spoke of how the practice advanced from working on small projects to larger jobs, saying this was down to competitions. While carrying out work on houses and extensions the practice would enter competitions for larger housing projects and masterplans.  

Alison said: ‘Small projects make fantastic opportunities but they are a labour of love. They’re not about making money, however they become a proof of what you can achieve. Treasure them, as they disappear as big projects come forward’.

Getting projects published was also noted as key to successfully growing a practice, but Brooks warned that the photography must be good, saying ‘publication is crucial to winning work, this kind of publicity adds credibility and clients want their projects to be published, but your projects will go nowhere without good photographs’.

The AJ Small Projects competition closes for entries on the 19 November.

For full competition details and payment form please see the attached pdf document.

Entries should be submitted via the AJ Buildings Library uploader. Please email Tom Ravenscroft on ajsmallprojects@emap.com or call 020 7728 4644 for your unique login.

Small Projects 2013 Launch

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