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New practice: IF_DO

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

Practice name: IF_DO

Where: Camberwell, south London

Founded: October 2014

Main people: Thomas Bryans, Sarah Castle and Al Scott

Where have you come from?
We met as undergraduates at the University of Edinburgh. We collaborated as students and stayed close friends as we dispersed for our masters and early careers, always with vague talk of one day setting up a practice together. Between us we’ve had quite diverse professional experiences, working in New York, Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam, but we were all back in London, working for really interesting practices, when we decided to make the leap.

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
We’re fortunate in that our projects vary hugely in typology and scale. We are currently working on a low-cost co-working space in Waterloo, a range of residential projects including extensions, one-off houses, and a scheme for 16 eco-homes in Suffolk and, at the larger end of the spectrum, a 10-year masterplan for the workshop of internationally-renowned furniture designer Joseph Walsh in Ireland (see AJ 11.07.2016). Ultimately we enjoy working on interesting projects for enthusiastic clients, whether they be individuals, community groups or private companies.

What are your ambitions?
We want to create projects that have a significant net benefit for the communities and environment in which they are built, as well as for the users. That’s a large ambition, and one that’s difficult to achieve on small residential projects. At the moment the small projects are testing grounds for us, but we want the scale of the work to grow, along with the size of the practice.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a start-up and for the profession generally?
There are quite a few. As a small, young practice, the biggest challenge is probably that of reputation. At the moment we’re relatively unknown, with little built work to show for ourselves, which makes both generating new enquiries and converting them to new projects more difficult than it might be for more established practices. Secondly, there’s a technological challenge — at the moment we’re not working in BIM, which we would like to be, both to improve our efficiency and especially as we move to delivering bigger projects. Finally, for the industry at large, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit are a major concern, but being young and nimble hopefully works in our favour.

Which scheme, completed in the past five years, has inspired you most?
Alejandro Aravena’s incremental housing projects.

How are you marketing yourselves?
We’ve invested in a great website, we’re active on all the usual social media platforms, and we’ve done a bit of advertising. More importantly, we’re getting out and doing a lot of networking. We became part of the London School of Architecture’s Practice Network in 2014, and are now teaching in the second year of their diploma programme. We also presented at the Design Museum as part of the LSA’s Emerging Architects panel in May this year.

Contact details

+44 (0)20 3645 6789

if do joseph walsh studio building diagram 02

if do joseph walsh studio building diagram 02

Source: Forbes Massie

Joseph Walsh Studio masterplan by IF_DO


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