The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone
Practice name Gbolade Design Studio [GDS] | Architects
Based Waterloo, London
Founded January 2018
Main people Tara Gbolade (pictured) + Seun Gbolade
Where have you come from?
We are both architects with different expertise. Tara specialised in the residential and education sectors having worked for large companies like Mace Group, and running and growing the London office of RG+P. Seun, who acts in an advisory capacity, took a different route, delving into his passion for property development by working with some of the largest developers in London including Berkeley Group.
The studio is a unique partnership between design creativity and commercial acumen, with an entrepreneurial spirit and a collaborative approach. We deeply care about the homes we design and build because they ultimately change lives.
Why did you start the practice?
To create architecture and developments that matter to us. Through our guiding principles of social, economic, and environmental sustainability, we believe well-considered architecture and products have the power to change and enhance people’s lives in profound ways. We therefore seek to create experiences – through buildings, places, and products – that enrich, empower, and connect communities.
What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for?
We are architects, app developers, and budding developers; we believe in being archipreneural in our approach.
Architecturally, we specialise in the residential sector, with a focus on place-making; our current workload includes an affordable housing development for Brighton and Hove Council, a 100-unit residential and commercial scheme for a private developer in London, and a community centre in London.
We believe in being archipreneural
We’ve launched MyPart3 App, which is an iOS app designed to give architecture students high-level information on how to run a project and how to run a practice. It features a resources section which includes podcasts, design standards and industry events.
As budding developers, we’ve undertaken our own R&D project: rHome. This product uses modular construction to create standard homes that can be customised by the end user to reflect their needs. These are being designed to Passivhaus standards in a BIM environment.
What are your ambitions?
We’d like to develop into an innovative medium-sized practice recognised for sustainable design and developments – in its broader sense: economic, commercial, social, and environmental sustainability.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a start-up?
The traditional role of the architect – generating new work – is passive and uncertain, and we have a real ambition to build our practice on entrepreneurism and agility. Having graduated in the 2008/2009 recession, and now with the uncertainty and opportunity of Brexit on the horizon, we made a commitment to diversify and use the full spectrum of our skills as architects to continually challenge the status quo of what it means to run a successful practice.
As architects, being entrepreneurial affords us adaptability, therefore becoming more resilient to changing societal norms and economics. It allows us, and we believe the broader profession, to better thrive in the profession, the industry, and generally, in life. It also keeps daily practice far more exciting.
Which scheme, completed in the last five years, has inspired you most?
King’s Cross’ urban regeneration is a favourite because of the way it retains and responds to the history of the existing buildings, negotiates the public realm, and creates community.
How are you marketing yourselves?
We’ve recently brought in a marketing specialist to help us focus on developing our profile within the industry and to our clients and end-users.
Gbolade Design Studio