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New practice Ashton Architecture: ‘Top tip – pay for services that distract you from doing architecture’

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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 Ashton Architecture
Main people John Ashton – director
Based 76 Portland Place, London
Founded: June 2018

Where have you come from?
Senior positions at Waind Gohil + Potter, Piercy & Company and pH+ Architects

What work do you have?
Current projects include a mixed-use scheme in east London, private residential projects in the UK and Switzerland and a therapy facility in central London.

We’re really keen to build on these sectors and start new conversations. So far the practice has very much grown through recommendation and word-of-mouth.

What are your ambitions?
We love the process of building and using our passion for construction to inform and optimise our early design stages. Collaboration is key, which is why we integrate the design team into the process from the outset, so all parties are working together to achieve the best result. Success for us is growing a happy and satisfied client network through design and construction innovation.

As a practice, our experience has told us that the best work is produced from studios that are supportive and encouraging of their staff. This is something we want to create and nurture. We are currently based in the RIBA incubator in 76 Portland Place, which has been a fantastic platform to engage with other emerging practices.

What are the biggest challenges facing yourself as a start-up and the profession generally?
Before launching I worked with a business coach to help me make the transition from being in practice to starting the firm. Good advice has been to pay for services that may otherwise distract you from the main tasks. For instance, we’ve got great IT, HR and accountancy contacts who have taken a lot of stress out of getting our systems set-up.

We’ve found that certain clients enjoy working with smaller firms, particularly if they too are starting to build their own business, and that enthusiasm goes a long way.

Looking forward, it’s set to be an interesting year. Whatever 2019 brings as a start-up, I feel we’ll be able to respond to the opportunities and challenges in a more agile way.

Which scheme from the last five years has inspired you most?
I’m aware this is just over five years old, but Brockholes by Adam Khan Architects still continues to inspire me. It’s our regular stop on the M6 journey north, and we enjoy the structural complexity, materiality and multi-layered building programme.

Brockholes Visitor Centre by Adam Khan Architects, winner of the Special Award for Sustainability

Brockholes Visitor Centre by Adam Khan Architects

Source: Ioana Marinescu

Brockholes Visitor Centre by Adam Khan Architects, winner of the Special Award for Sustainability

How are you marketing yourselves?
Through the RIBA chartered practice membership, social media and word of mouth with contacts, friends and family.

Website address



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