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London is the economic centre of the UK and Europe and must meet the demands of an ever-increasing population. Making space for people in its dense sprawl of historically low-rise villages is difficult.

At worst, residents are at the mercy of high property values and rents, long commutes, and poor air-quality. But at its best, London is a series of vibrant, green, characterful and connected neighbourhoods.

dRMM’s proposition imagines a healthy, prosperous and live-able London, starting now. Changes in climate, technology and mobility are inevitable, nonetheless; challenges could persist. How can we enable the public to participate, creating a sense of ownership, belonging and togetherness?

Check out our very own Will Howard at the NLA’s Build Back Better series presenting our take on the future of London.

How do we go back to school from here? With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting education, and schools set to reopen in September, schools are forced to rethink safe ways to continue teaching.

Director Philip Marsh is featured in RIBA Journal’s article on rethinking the design of schools in times of Covid-19, offering insight into the possibilities of outdoor classrooms as well as flexible-use creative halls.

dRMM is celebrating its 25th year in practice with the appointment of two new Directors, Saskia Lencer and Judith Stichtenoth.

dRMM now has six Directors with complimentary skills and experience, rounding out the leadership team of founders Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh and Sadie Morgan, together with Jonas Lencer, who became a Director in 2015.

In their previous roles as Associate Directors, Saskia and Judith were responsible for running the project teams in the studio. Their promotion ensures the directorship remains closely tied to the studio team.

As part of the changes to the Directorship, Finance Director Tamsin Pearce has also been made Company Secretary.

Founded in 1995, dRMM has pioneered approaches to sustainability and innovation in materials, particularly engineered timber structures, that are now accepted best practice. These new appointments make dRMM well-placed to thrive in the face of the challenges of the next 25 years.


Founding Director Alex de Rijke said:
“dRMM is constantly evolving, and this latest move creates new opportunities for a talented group of younger architects.
Women make up over half of dRMMs team. Saskia and Judith’s new positions mean dRMM now has at least 50:50 gender representation at all levels up to and including Director, something we are proud of”

Portraits of the Directors at their front doors during the Coronavirus lockdown were shot in May 2020 by Alex de Rijke as part of his daily cycle.

For Architects’ Journal, Jonas Lencer explores the role of architecture in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis during the ongoing climate emergency.

 

Jonas argues that we need to develop a new moral and aesthetic code – an architecture that is reliant on modular components and recycled materials.

One where architects do not follow style or theory. One which instead reprogrammes our visual expectations. 

Read the full article at Architects’ Journal.

In Home Edition 2020, Sadie explores her communal upbringing and how it taught her the value of sharing as well as the importance of different generations. She examines the bonds created through conversation and encounters, whether between family members, colleagues, and friends.

Architects not Architecture has launched this series of talks to make sure we keep cultural life and inspiration alive in these challenging times.

Watch HOME EDITION 2020 – TALK #3 with Sadie Morgan here.

Image courtesy of Architects not Architecture

With regard to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, dRMM are managing the situation proactively and would like to inform and assure our clients, suppliers and collaborators that the studio has full business continuity plans in place.  

Our talented and resourceful team have always been at the heart of our business and their wellbeing is our top priority. The company is taking steps to ensure the team is supported both physically and mentally.

Over recent weeks the studio has implemented checks and measures to allow the business to continue to operate and we aim to continue to deliver on schedule and to our usual exacting standards. Our software systems allow project teams to work from home via secure systems.  Video conferencing facilities allow us to maintain all essential meetings. Non-essential meetings are being rescheduled. 

During this difficult period and the future, dRMM is dedicated to maintaining both work and team, and offers all clients, suppliers and industry colleagues assurance of our support and business continuity.

We wish you good health in these unprecedented times.

At dRMM, we have issued our response to the Part L & F consultation because we believe that the government’s proposals are a step backwards from the direction in which we urgently must head to meet our climate change targets.

In 2019, dRMM declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, alongside all 17 Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling Prize winning architecture practices. This declaration has now been supported by over 850 architecture practices in the UK, and the list is growing. In parallel, there have been declarations from the wider Construction Industry – from Building Service Engineers, Structural Engineers, to Project Managers, also pledging to similar declarations.

Our industry is ready to make significant changes to the way we design, build and operate buildings.

dRMM broadly supports both LETI and ACAN’s views on the Part L consultation.

dRMM’s main recommendations are:

1. Local authorities should retain control.

To date 265 out of 408 councils, or 65% of councils have so far declared a Climate Emergency, and are setting their own stretching planning targets, including for energy efficiency. Local Authorities are well-placed to understand local issues, capabilities and needs, and we believe they should have the ability as such to implement energy efficiency targets to meet their own net-zero carbon plans.

dRMM recommends that Building Regulations form a national baseline, or minimum standard, and that Local Authorities should retain their ability to encourage stretching targets in order to meet their local net-zero targets

2. Fabric Energy Efficiency Standards should be retained, and improved

Homes are a major contributor to UK CO2e emissions, with 22% of UK emissions arising from homes, with 15% of UK emissions resulting from just heating and hot water for homes (refer to LETI Climate Emergency Design Guide, 2020 p. 14)

We need to better insulate our homes across the board, to ensure we work to reduce overall energy demand, and the resulting CO2e emissions. dRMM believe that the Future Homes Standard 2020 does not encourage well-insulated building fabrics, due to the omission of the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES).

The proposed changes to Part L & F have the potential for building fabrics to become worse, not better.

dRMM are keen to emphasise that poor building fabrics have no place in the current Climate Emergency, and will likely need to be replaced in costly retrofits in the near future, particularly as temperatures increase in the UK.

3. We need Building Regulations to be developed in a holistic, Whole Life carbon way

The Part L and F proposed changes do not consider operational carbon from a whole life carbon perspective. Given that we are in a Climate Emergency, with only 10 years to limit global warming to less than 1.5oC, we as architects are mindful of the carbon associated with construction, maintenance and demolition of our buildings – Embodied Carbon. As operational carbon efficiencies improve, whether through fabric efficiencies or the decarbonisation of the grid, the proportional impact of embodied carbon increases.

We find that this can represent around half of a building’s Whole Life Carbon Impact, of which a large proportion can arise specifically from building services equipment (refer to LETI’s Embodied Carbon Primer). This is pertinent particularly in the present Climate Emergency, as embodied carbon emissions arise now, whereas operational carbon emissions accrue over a building’s life time.

The Building Regulations need to consider Whole Life and Embodied Carbon, as otherwise there is a risk that the targets set may have unintended consequences over a building’s whole life’s carbon impact. We need to design holistically to meet Whole Life Net Zero, and the Building Regulations need to help us to get there.

We will be publishing our complete response shortly.

Don’t forget to submit your own response before the end of the day on Friday 7 February.

dRMM’s timber-focused Forest of Fabrication exhibition collaboration with RIBA North and the Building Centre has been extended until April 11.

As part of the exhibition, there is a varied programme of talks, tours and networking meet-ups placing timber under the spotlight.

The series explores timber as a problem-solving material, highlighting its successes when used imaginatively and creatively; and discusses the role of timber as a material champion for sustainability.

Upcoming events

Maggie’s Oldham: The Making of
Wednesday 12 February 2020
3pm to 5pm
Join us for a unique behind-the-scenes tour of Maggie’s Oldham, a benchmark project for dRMM.

Forest of Fabrication Closing Plenary
Tuesday 24 March 2020
5.30pm to 7.30pm
dRMM are joined by local and international speakers to discuss the future of timber buildings and the innovations driving the industry.

We are thrilled to start 2020 with the news that we’ve achieved planning on three London based projects. 

In Silvertown, our mixed-use scheme on Plot 1 will breathe life back into the former docklands. The scheme’s three residential buildings will respond sensitively to the dock’s industrial history, with scalloped facades evoking the silhouettes of the grain silos that once stood on the site. Transforming the docks, Plot 1 will create new homes, cafes, and restaurants to activate and revitalise the area. Plot 1 is part of the larger regeneration of Silvertown, a joint venture between Lendlease and Starwood Group, with the GLA as developing partner.

In Waddon, Croydon, we’ve proposed 126 tenure blind high-quality homes set within a vibrant green landscape, overlooking metropolitan open land. Front doors will open to a garden at the heart of the development that will provide an enlivening and dynamic extension of the public realm, offering space for natural play. Each apartment block will be arranged to maximise views and daylight, and be constructed using different coloured brickwork to grant each block a unique identity. 

The third scheme to win approval is a 12 storey mixed-use scheme in Burnt Oak that will create a landmark building providing 100 high-quality homes with commercial space on the ground and lower ground floor. Two distinct buildings varying in height step down towards the north of the site, with a podium courtyard accessible to residents. Carefully designed frontages will activate the street level and offer retail and amenities for both residents and neighbours to enjoy.

 

 

“Having dedicated my career to promoting design integration within UK projects at every scale, this recognition validates and gives tangible credence to the value I believe great design can bring to a country. I am beyond honoured.”

Prof Sadie Morgan MA(RCA), FRIBA, OBE

 

dRMM Co-Founding Director Sadie Morgan has received an OBE for services to design advocacy in the New Year Honours List, released today. Sadie has championed socially useful architecture as part of her dRMM directorship for over two decades. She has since also held roles at the highest level within national architectural education (President of the Architectural Association; Professor of Professional Practice, University of Westminster); the UK transport and infrastructure (Design Chair, High Speed Two; Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission); the UK housing sector (Board Member, Homes England); as well as within the realm of place-making and community development (Mayor’s Design Advocate, Greater London Authority; Non-Executive Director, U+I; Non-Executive Director, Major Projects Association; Founder, Quality of Life Foundation).

Throughout all her roles, Sadie makes a passionate case for an alternative human perspective to balance economic arguments. Her strength in combining the pragmatic needs of complex projects with the everyday needs of the communities and places has characterised her impact on the wider design industry.

Sadie’s dRMM leadership alongside Alex de Rijke, Philip Marsh and Jonas Lencer has been recognised for the creation of architecture that is innovative, high-quality and socially useful – once again bound by an aspiration to make people’s lives better. As a practice, dRMM has promoted sustainable materials and construction since its inception, advocating for stronger collaboration between designers and manufacturers, as well as for the use of engineered timber as a material with exemplary sustainability credentials. dRMM’s award-winning work is often the focus of Sadie’s extensive lecturing both nationally and internationally. She also consistently discusses the role of architects in society and the importance of infrastructure that connects to people and places.

Sadie sits on competition jury and advisory panels including the RIBA National Awards Advisory Panel and represents the profession in the media through radio, TV appearances, articles and columns. In 2017, she was named ‘New Londoner of the Year’ at the New London Awards for her work in “championing the importance of design at the highest political level”. In 2019, she won the inaugural ‘Female Architectural Leader of the Year’ at the BD Architect of the Year awards and the ‘AJ100 Contribution to the Profession’ award, voted for by the members of the AJ100 list. Sadie was recently awarded a RIBA Honorary Fellowship for her contribution to the advancement of architecture, sustainable communities and the education of future generations.

“My career has been defined by collaboration – I am grateful to my fellow directors, colleagues, and team for their collective spirit, talent, and shared desire to elevate the importance of design. I am also thankful for the support I receive from my family and friends, who have constantly reinforced my drive to promote gender diversity at every level within this great industry.

Prof Sadie Morgan MA(RCA), FRIBA, OBE