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New practice: Holt Architecture

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The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone

Holt Architecture, London, SE1

Main people Jonathan Holt

Founded March 2014

Where have you come from?  
I studied at Oxford Brookes, the Bartlett and Westminster University before working at Farrells and then at Sonnemann Toon Architects.

What kind of work do you have?
My last practice operated in a specialist field, and as a job-winner I struggled to escape certain preconceptions. Since going solo I have completed projects for a free school and a London university and found a much broader range of work.

The studio is currently working on a pair of townhouses in Mayfair, a series of modern tree houses for a spa retreat, a luxury-car showroom and a new-build sports facility. Projects on the horizon include an office fit-out and garden work space. The plan is to keep diversity in the portfolio – I didn’t join the profession to do just one thing.

What are your ambitions?
We want to become known for environmentally sustainable design that doesn’t compromise on quality. NASA shuttle crews feature seven astronauts as that is thought to be the optimum size for team communication. If we can, we will stay small and increase the office’s output by improving our skills and efficiency. Technology and communication has moved on enormously since many of today’s large practices were founded, and we think we are in an era when the mantra ‘size doesn’t matter’ is actually starting to mean something.

What are the biggest challenges faced by yourself as a start-up and the profession generally?
People said you can’t make it on your own. They said the recession was going strong. I’ve found neither to be true. The profession needs to get more tech-savvy and design things for manufacture, before we all end up working for contractors.

How are you marketing yourselves?
Using our website, social media and lots of smiles. My old business partner said that you’ll have a successful business if clients look forward to picking up the phone to you.



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