Connecting an extension with a new glass and stone entrance hall. Photo copyright: Emma Lewis

Our clients bought a small, old Cotswold stone house which was beautiful but they wanted to extend it to create a family home. They had identified an area beside the house for the extension and had a clear vision of which rooms they wanted to be included within it, they even had a layout in mind too — a copy of the existing dwelling floorplan to accommodate more bedrooms and a reception room.

Typically it’s a fierce attachment to a family house which leads to building a home in the grounds for grandparents, but not so for Tom Howard, co-director and founder of Stroud based architect Millar + Howard Workshop (MHW) and his wider family. It was a shared, deep love for the garden which galvanised the generations and propagated the building of a place for his parents; Philip and Judy Howard.

Navigating the issues of downsizing, moving into the family home whilst considering other siblings, let alone embarking on designing a home for your parents isn’t easy, but the Howards seemed to…

Most architects have fantasised about building their own home since long before they were qualified, some since before they even started school, but is being your own client the dream-like experience that was envisaged all those years ago? Three of our senior team members are currently acting as architects on their own homes, all are at different stages; one just beginning, one about to start the building stage and one nearly finished. Here they describe how being the client has made them see this perspective completely differently…

Phil Hurrell is embarking on a complete refurbishment of a house which hasn’t…

Mind the Gap (in career)

Using my children as props on a work photoshoot of Beaudesert Park School, Library & Learning Support Centre designed by Millar + Howard Workshop

It’s not returning because everything’s changed and you can’t go back to something new. Admittedly I had a fair sized break from office work (five years and three children) and I went on to a different company in a new location but it was still a shock that everything about office life had changed. Advancements in processes are obvious and of course, I was expecting technological progress — as one does with each new day; but I wasn’t prepared for how I’d react to these changes and how others would react to me. …

Testing a prototype of a flexible working space designed by Millar + Howard Workshop

The “Having It All” Myth

A product of a 1980s feminist schooling, I believed my head teacher’s optimistic words when she proclaimed what a lucky generation of young women we were to have a female Prime Minister blazing the trail for not just working women, but those in senior positions too. I fully bought into this aspiration even more when she told us that despite being female, we really could “have it all”. 24 years, nine jobs and three children later I now know, that having it all is not just a myth but a futile aspiration too. A recent report in The Observer bore…

Sir Peter Scott’s House, Slimbridge

Protecting the wildfowl at WWT Slimbridge was key for Millar + Howard Workshop’s renovation project of Sir Peter Scott’s House

The transformation of Sir Peter Scott’s house has been an intriguing project to work on right from the beginning because its historical significance is astonishing but not in a typical way. The house itself is not particularly old and it’s not a listed building. There are no notable architectural features to be preserved; no intricate plaster work or carefully crafted masonry carvings. In fact, in pure architectural terms, it’s a fairly unremarkable building. Its historical value comes from how it has been used by Sir Peter and his family. To see how he both worked…

Brings people together

Food brings people together, that’s undeniable. Chocolate works especially well but really it’s the small act of kindness of bringing in home made goodies that lures colleagues away from their desks to gather them for a meeting or really breaks the ice at client introductions.

Chocolate isn’t the only great element of this recipe, it’s gluten and dairy free too so everyone here can eat it and it’s also easy peasy to make: uses just one bowl and there’s no cooking involved just cooling in the fridge. Anyone can do it.

This isn’t just any old fudge…

Using VR is one way to add value to your practice, providing a client with a fully immersive experience of what a project will be like. © Tomas Millar

Small startups are disrupting whole industries and changing the business landscape forever.

The fourth industrial revolution is gaining momentum. We are entering the age of AI, self-driving cars, the internet of things and additive manufacturing. However, according to a recent McKinsey report, construction is rated as one of the least digitised industries in the economy.

Both construction and architecture have been described as industries that are ‘ripe for disruption’, following research by the IHS Global Projects Database that indicates projects routinely take 20 percent longer to finish than originally scheduled and run up to 80 percent over budget.

Yet, many small, recently formed architecture practices are innovating both in their approach and…

Tomas Millar introducing VR at a RIBA Gloucestershire event

Those who really gain from Virtuality Reality designs are the clients.

Millar + Howard Workshop has been using Virtual Reality (VR) to aid the process of conceiving buildings for a few years now. Its impact has been positive and instant. As a design tool, it pushes the boundaries of construction techniques as well as assist with how buildings flow and function at the optimal level for its eventual occupiers. It quickly became apparent however that while VR is incredibly useful for architects at the design stage, the real beneficiaries are clients.

What is VR for Architecture?

VR programs create a life-size model of the building…

Wildlife can enhance a project rather than cause delay or an increase your costs.

Hazel Dormouse. photo credit: Tony Wellbelove

Being aware of any wildlife activity and subsequently preparing is key when considering a project which is likely to be home to a protected species. A specialist ecologist may be required to carry out a survey or report.

Knowing which flora and fauna may be present on your site is essential to a successful, time efficient planning application so it’s worth checking with your ecologist, local authority or architect in the first instance for any insight into what may be present. If you’re prepared then knowing…

Ros James

Writes and thinks for Millar + Howard Workshop. Connecting visuals and words.

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