The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at those who have recently decided to go it alone
Practice name Studioshaw
Where East London
Founded April 2016
Main people Mark Shaw (pictured centre), Harry Thompson (right), Jack Hudspith (left)
Where have you come from?
Mark was a senior associate at Duggan Morris; Harry an architects assistant at Neri & Hu, Singapore; Jack was at David Chipperfield.
What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
We are doing a wide range, which is great and which is what we did at Duggan Morris. We don’t really want to specialise in a sector. We seem to be doing a few projects that focus on children and young people (including one for the NHS), which is interesting and which we would like to develop. We are also doing new-build restaurants and a concept retail project where we are trying to redefine what the independent high street store is in the digital age.
What are your ambitions?
To not get too stressed out! We want to stay broad, so we can turn our hand to a wide range of building typologies, but key themes are highly flexible buildings that are very efficient and have innovative spatial arrangements. We want to do a mix of public and private; both have different challenges and both require us to challenge the status quo.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a start-up?
Brexit happened two months after I started the business. I got quite depressed and really fearful for the British economy. A big project got put on hold (for one year) but things are now moving forwards slowly. My fear is we have 10 years of stagnation. Currently we are working super hard for small fees, but I guess that is the combination of the economy and the fact we are fresh.
Which scheme, completed in the past five years, has inspired you most?
We get inspired all the time by lots of things, from handrail details to structural frames. We like buildings and spaces that have a ‘generosity’ and are public and not just selling something; where you are invited to spend a moment.
How are you marketing yourselves?
Our strategy is to do the best job we can of the things we have before marketing too much. We won the Dundee ideas competition
to design a site as part of its waterfront regeneration, which we entered because we thought the public realm brief was really interesting – hopefully that might open up some opportunities in Scotland, where I am originally from and where Jack studied. We aim to do a few more competitions as we like the opportunity to think strategically and collaborating with other consultants.