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New practice Hayatsu Architects: ‘We want to build well-crafted buildings for public good’

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The AJ speaks to Takeshi Hayatsu of Hayatsu Architects, who was shortlisted for AJ Small Projects last year 

Practice name
Hayatsu Architects. Our studio is based at Sugarhouse Studios in Bermondsey, London.

January 2017

Main people
Takeshi Hayatsu, director and Katherine Spence, a Part 2 architectural assistant, who studied at Central Saint Martins.

Where have you come from?
Originally from Japan, I worked at 6a architects for 11 years [where he spearheaded 6a’s timber-clad halls at Churchill College, Cambridge]. Previous to this, I was at Haworth Tompkins for five years and David Chipperfield for three years.

What work do you have?
A house refurbishment in Hampstead for a contemporary art gallery owner’s family; a new build artist’s studio in Loughborough Junction; building conservation work for a Grade II-listed Georgian house in West London; a community-led allotment project in Tolworth in partnership with Kingston School of Art; and a public realm regeneration project in the Lake District in collaboration with Central Saint Martins and Grizedale Art.

The road project 2

The road project 2

The Road project in Coniston, the Lake District, by Hayatsu Architects in collaboration with Central Saint Martins and Grizedale Art

We actively participate in design competitions for public buildings. We were the finalist for Bond Street Flower Kiosk, Dulwich Picture Gallery Pavilion 2017 and British Pavilion for Venice Biennale 2018. We are currently working on a second stage competition to design and restore a historic building near Yorkshire Moor.

We also designed a tea house in collaboration with Japanese architect and historian Terunobu Fujimori for the Japanese House exhibition at the Barbican Centre, and Hayatsu Architects was a finalist for British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, losing out to Stirling Prize-winners Caruso St John.

What are your ambitions?
The practice ambition is to build well considered and well crafted buildings for public good, working with a tight team of people for small to large commissions in collaboration with external institutions, makers and designers.

3057405 seminarhousepavilioncrop04

3057405 seminarhousepavilioncrop04

Seminar House Pavilion by Takeshi Hayatsu, Simon Jones, Unit 5 Kingston University [shortlisted for AJ Small Projects 2016]

What are the biggest challenges facing yourself as a start-up and the profession generally?
To maintain the working environment where we can design and make simultaneously, while generating enough income to support ourselves.

Which scheme, completed in the last five years, has inspired you most?
Cowan Court, a new student accommodation building for Churchill College in Cambridge by 6a architects which I worked on for eight years after winning the competition in 2008. It is a beautiful timber frame building with strong ideas about construction, sustainability and conservation.

How are you marketing yourselves?
Word of mouth, and any attention our building projects receive. The Lake District scheme was conceived through my ongoing research project on the Arts and Crafts movement at Central Saint Martins where I run a postgraduate studio under the theme of ‘reworking arts and crafts’. Grizedale Arts was introduced by the course originally as they are based in Coniston with a strong influence of Ruskin’s ethos in a way they operate in the contemporary arts scene. The other clients were through friends’ recommendations.


Takeshi tea house

Takeshi tea house

Tea house designed by Hayatsu Architects in collaboration with Japanese architect and historian Terunobu Fujimori for the Japanese House exhibition at the Barbican Centre

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