Meet the friendly face of architecture

Whether you have grand makeover ambitions or simply want a larger kitchen, this is your chance to meet an architect who could help you realise your dreams — or suggest some new ones — and also give you a realistic idea of what it might cost.
Modern interior of a house on Portobello Road
© Pitman Tozer
This traditional house in the Portobello Road has been completely transformed into a light and bright modern home
If you are one of the many not taking a holiday this summer console yourself with some almost-free advice on how to add value with home improvement. Whether you have grand makeover ambitions or simply want a larger kitchen, this is your chance to meet an architect who could help you realise your dreams — or suggest some new ones — and also give you a realistic idea of what it might cost.

On July 2 and 3, Great Western Studios, W2, which houses 80 artists and designers as well as three architects’ practices, launches a new scheme where you get to spend half an hour with an architect, for a £35 donation to charity.

Make an appointment and come along with plans of your house, if you have some, or a sketch plan if not; and a few photos and or sketches, so the architects can see what you’ve got to work with. When your session is up there are artists studios to visit and buy from, including jewellery and crafts; Pimms, a barbeque, and live music.

The three young award-winning practices taking part in the pilot scheme are Pitman Tozer (pitmantozer.com), a small practice dedicated to housing, both residential and affordable, which won the Manser Medal in 2009 for its innovative Gap House (featured in Homes & Property) that was shoe-horned into the gap between two big Bayswater Houses, turning apparently useless space into a family home complete with courtyard garden.

Clever tricks like this, making the very best use of space, are exactly what architects are trained for. Pitman Tozer has also re-ordered existing houses to very different budgets, including completely transforming a traditional house in the Portobello Road for a banker, retaining the pretty facade (pictured).

Also at Great Western Studios is Moxon architects (moxonarchitects.com), set up in 2004. Its Bisham Gardens House transformed a traditional London home by adding a large glass extension beautifully louvred with steel brise-soleils, as well as opening up the upper floor. Extensions are a fantastic way to make better use of the land immediately behind a house that is so often dedicated to pot plants. A big kitchen-dining-living room makes a home feel completely different, and can be more successful than moving.

The third firm, Threefold (threefoldarchitects.com), has three partners. Ladderstile House, a recently completed sustainable family house by Richmond Park, uses traditional materials including hand-thrown bricks, as well as glass and steel, to make a really sensational home set round a courtyard. Heating comes from geothermal boreholes (also used at the Gap House).

To book your half-hour session, contact Kat at Great Western Studios on 020 7221 0100 or email events@greatwesternstudios.com putting “Architects’ surgery” in the subject field. The sessions are from noon-6pm on 2-3 July and cost £35 each, proceeds going to The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Foundation.

* Great Western Studios: 65 Alfred Road, W2 5EU; greatwesternstudios.com

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