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Leading developers back AJ’s RetroFirst campaign

Retrofirst demands all
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Developers U+I, Capital & Centric, FORE and Trilogy Real Estate have all thrown their weight behind the campaign for reuse of existing buildings

The four property developers have joined a rapidly growing list of RetroFirst backers, with the campaign now boasting almost 170 signatories.

The campaign has won the support of organisations such as the RIBA, the UK Green Building Council and the Twentieth Century Society, as well as backing from 135 individual architect practices including 13 winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Architects adding their names in recent weeks include last year’s Stirling winner Mikhail Riches and 2017 winner dRMM along with 5th Studio, Van Heyningen & Haward Architects and Donald Insall Associates.

U+I’s chief development officer Richard Upton said developers were often wrong to think regeneration should start ’with a wrecking ball’.

He said preserving existing buildings where possible would lead to outcomes that were more sustainable ’socially, environmentally and economically’.

Upton added: ’Tired old buildings may not look that great on the surface but dust them down and something special can be found; something that only develops over time. Call it a sense of place, call it belonging, call it soul; it matters and it provides a degree of authenticity that the shiny new stuff just can’t replicate.’

Basil Demeroutis, managing partner at FORE Partnership – the developer behind the ultra-green Manchester retrofit Windmill Green designed by TP Bennett – said he hoped RetroFirst could ’help galvanise the industry and government to do more, faster’.

He said: ’Central to this must be a commitment to retain the embodied carbon wherever possible, and then transform those buildings into ultra-sustainable and high-spec workspaces that encourage creativity, collaboration, and a sense of community.

‘Ultimately, we believe we can do well by doing right and that a broad, holistic approach to sustainability can in fact drive higher financial returns … it’s our mission to demonstrate that a deep commitment to carbon reduction delivers both future-proofed buildings aligned with the needs of modern end-users but also profitability for investors and tenants.’

Founder and chief executive of Trilogy Real Estate Robert Wolstenholme, who built a reputation by refurbishing interesting but neglected buildings such as Greater London House in Mornington Crescent, said the systems of measuring building sustainability also needed to change to recognise the importance of embodied carbon.

‘It’s frustrating that it is so challenging to get BREEAM Outstanding for a retrofit,’ he said, ‘particularly when the sustainability benefit of reuse over new-build is so apparent.

‘This is an essential and timely campaign by the AJ, and I hope the conversation is picked up by the whole real estate and construction industry.’

RetroFirst, which was launched last September at the AJ’s annual Retrofit Awards, responds directly to the climate emergency, highlighting the fact that the built environment is responsible for around 40 per cent of the UK’s annual emissions.

It calls for government action to slash embodied carbon emissions in construction by encouraging greater use of retrofit and refurbishment in three key areas: VAT/tax, policy and procurement.

Last month it was endorsed by the final report of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission.


How you can get involved

Follow the progress of RetroFirst using #retrofirst on social media
Contact us at retrofirst@emap.com to back the campaign

Campaign supporters

Built environment companies and organisations

  • Anthropocene Architecture School
  • Architects’ Climate Action Network (ACAN)
  • British Land
  • Capital + Centric
  • Cundall
  • Edinburgh World Heritage
  • FORE
  • Hearth Historic Buildings Trust
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Hoare Lea
  • London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB)
  • Paradigm Land
  • Price & Myers
  • RIBA
  • SAVE Britain’s Heritage
  • Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
  • Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA)
  • Trilogy Real Estate
  • The Twentieth Century Society
  • The Victorian Society
  • U+I
  • UK Green Building Council
  • WSP

Architect practices

  • 3D Reid
  • 5th Studio
  • 50.8 Architecture & Interiors
  • aad architects
  • ADP Architecture
  • Alison Brooks Architects
  • Amos Goldreich Architecture
  • Andris Berzins + Associates
  • Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM)
  • Allies and Morrison
  • Architectural Emporium
  • Architecture Initiative
  • Architype
  • Assael Architecture
  • Assorted Skills + Talents*
  • AWW
  • Barr Gazetas
  • BBM Sustainable Design
  • Belsize Architects
  • Ben Adams Architects
  • Bennetts Associates
  • Boano Prišmontas
  • Brimelow McSweeney Architects
  • Bryden Wood
  • BuckleyGrayYeoman
  • Buttress
  • Caruso St John Architects
  • Child Graddon Lewis
  • Chris Dyson Architects
  • Clare Nash Architecture
  • CMA
  • Connolly Wellingham Architects
  • Cousins and Cousins
  • Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture
  • Daria Wong Architects
  • Darling Associates
  • DarntonB3 Architecture
  • David Chipperfield Architects
  • DLG Architects
  • DNA Architecture
  • Donald Insall Associates
  • Downs Merrifield Architects
  • Dress for the Weather
  • dRMM 
  • ECD Architects
  • ECE Architecture
  • e-gg
  • EPR Architects
  • Featherstone Young
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Feix&Merlin
  • Foster + Partners
  • Freehaus
  • Gardner Stewart Architects
  • Gensler
  • Glenn Howells Architects
  • Gort Scott
  • gpad london
  • Grimshaw
  • Group Ginger
  • Heatherwick Studio
  • Henley Halebrown
  • Heritage Architecture
  • Hawkins\Brown
  • Haworth Tompkins
  • Hills & Co
  • Hopkins
  • HPA Architecture
  • HÛT
  • Hutchinson & Partners
  • Ian Ritchie Architects
  • Jestico + Whiles
  • John Robertson Architects
  • JTP
  • Kendall Kingscott
  • Knott Architects
  • LTS Architects
  • LYN Atelier
  • MAP Architecture
  • MawsonKerr Architects
  • MAX Architects
  • McMullan Studio
  • Mike Daubney Architects
  • Mikhail Riches `
  • Morrow + Lorraine Architects
  • Morse Webb Architects
  • MTBA Associates, Ottawa, Canada
  • Murphy Associates
  • Neu Architects
  • New Practice
  • Nicola de Quincey architecture + conservation
  • O’Donnell + Tuomey
  • Owen Ellis Architects
  • Page\Park Architects
  • Parkes Poole Architects
  • Paul Testa Architecture
  • PDP London
  • Peak Architects
  • Penoyre & Prasad
  • Piercy & Company Architects
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • PPIY Architects
  • Procter-Rihl
  • PRP
  • Purcell
  • Robert Dye Architects
  • Robert Rhodes Architecture + Interiors
  • Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
  • Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
  • Scott Brownrigg
  • ShedKM
  • Sow Space
  • Stephen Taylor Architects
  • Steve Ritchie Partnership
  • Simone de Gale Architects
  • Simpson & Brown
  • Square One Architects
  • Stiff + Trevillion Architects 
  • Studio Basheva
  • Studio Bednarski
  • Studio DuB
  • Studio Seilern Architects
  • Syndicate West Architects
  • Tate Hindle
  • Theis and Khan Architects
  • Tim Greatrex Architects 
  • Triangle Architects
  • Turn Architects
  • Type3 Studio
  • Ullmayer Sylvester Architects
  • Una Kaya Architects
  • Van Heyningen and Haward Architects
  • Whittaker Parsons
  • WilkinsonEyre
  • Witherford Watson Mann
  • Woodfield Brady Architects
  • Wren Architecture & Design
  • Zaha Hadid Architects


  • Clara Bagenal George, Elementa Consulting
  • Hero Bennett, Max Fordham
  • Chris Cummings, technical director, Chapmanbdsp
  • Emma Dent Coad, former MP for Kensington
  • Loyd Grossman,  chairman of The Royal Parks
  • Kelly Harrison, Heyne Tillett Steele
  • Joe Holyoak, architect and urban designer
  • J. Jeffrey Keays, senior lecturer, school of architecture design & built environment, Nottingham Trent University
  • Walter Menteth, architect and procurement reform campaigner
  • Alice Moncaster, senior lecturer at School of Engineering and Innovation at The Open University
  • David Ness, adjunct professor at the School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia
  • Paul O’Neil, Bryden Wood
  • Clare Richards, ft’work
  • Simon Sturgis, Targeting Zero
  • James Traynor, ECD Architects 
  • Professor Peter Walker, director of architecture and digital design, University of Salford

RetroFirst Logos 2019 3

RetroFirst Logos 2019 3


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