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New practice: PUP Architects

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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 PUP Architects
Where Hackney, London
Founded Spring 2015
Main people Theo Molloy, Chloë Leen and Steve Wilkinson

Where have you come from?
Theo previously worked for Bearth and Deplazes in Switzerland before doing a stint at Grimshaw architects in London. Chloë has worked for Ash Sakula (on The Malings Supreme Winner Housing Design Awards), Universal Design Studio, and Sam Jacob Studio. Steve worked for several years at Tate Harmer and James Gorst. We therefore have a huge range of project experience between us – installations, galleries, factories, schools and private houses.

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
The refurbishment/extension of Surrey Docks City Farm, London; a conversion of a 17th-century cottage in Ireland to a contemporary one-bedroom residence; and the masterplanning of Cody Dock, which includes new studio and workshop spaces, community café, dry dock and moorings for barges. We were recently shortlisted in a competition for an installation project in Croome Court, a Robert Adam/Capability Brown designed National Trust house.

We hope to continue this varied mix of projects with a particular interest in cultural, arts and community sectors. We seek out private residential work but are keen on public-facing projects too, which our portfolio is starting to reflect. 

Theo also runs a unit on Oxford Brookes’s undergraduate course and has led a timber building workshop in Latvia for the past six years.

What are your ambitions?
We want to build architecture and other projects with a social conscience, which are critically engaged with our discipline and the world around it. 

We hope to create unique qualities in every project. We are particularly interested in exploring materiality, both in its innovation and craft, as well as how it influences perception, meaning and experience. 

What are the biggest challenges you face as a start-up? 
We are finding that tender/PQQ processes preclude fledgling practices from many interesting opportunities. At the same time we have successfully entered many open competitions with creative submissions, but they can feel onerous and exploitative. We didn’t start with a glittering list of helpful contacts so we have had to be resourceful, and lucky, to find clients in other ways. If there are any larger practices out there who would like to team up or pass opportunities our way, we would love to hear from you.

Which scheme, completed in the past five years, has inspired you most?
We recently visited Shatwell Farm in Somerset. The buildings there by Hugh Strange Architects and Stephen Taylor Architects are beautifully executed with great materials. We also like the Holmes Road Studios project by Peter Barber. It is a playful and crafted response to a great brief that really demonstrates social awareness and the positive effect architecture can have on its users.

How are you marketing yourselves?
We were selected for the Architecture Foundation’s New Architects 3 book, which was great for recognition and has led to a couple of new opportunities. We try to keep up to date on Twitter; teaching and critting has also been good for networking. We are also starting a newsletter that you can sign up to, to let our contacts know what we’re up to


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