Country Life is proud to present our updated list of the finest architects in Britain.
More from the Country Life Top 100:
- Best garden designers in Britain
- Best interior designers in Britain
- Best country house specialists in Britain
If you’re considering serious work on your home, the golden rule is to look for someone with a track record in country-house projects of a scale and type similar to yours. Interview two or three, ideally on site so that you can see how the architect responds to the location as well as to you. Are they enthusiastic? Do they pick up on the cues of the landscape? Do you like them?
‘We often work with people to move forward to a “feasibility-sketch” stage, to make sure the relationship is working,’ says John Tehan of Smallwood Architects.
‘Even if clients are clear about what they want, most people will need to stand back and think about things once the process has started.’
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He stresses the necessity of taking the time at this stage, because any changes later may be too late. ‘The system in this country means that your ideas need to be clear by the time you go to planning; there isn’t really the luxury of reconsidering later, because you’ve already had to commit in order to get permission,’ he explains.
An architect’s fee can vary, sometimes a fixed sum for a specific job, such as a feasibility sketch or a masterplan, or a percentage related to the cost of the build. This will vary depending upon the scope of the architect’s services and the scale, complexity and type of the project, but 10%–15% (on top of the build cost, plus VAT) may be considered a reasonable rule of thumb.
Following recent promotions, Darren Price and Robert Cox have joined design directors Nigel Anderson, Hugh Petter, George Saumarez Smith and Robbie Kerr, who, together, lead a team of 100 staff based in offices in Winchester and London. Sustainability and energy efficiency are now vitally important both for new-build projects and in improving existing, listed, and historic buildings.
Dr Martina Pacifici now leads the sustainability team, ensuring that design and delivery of all the company’s projects are carried out in the most carbon-efficient manner.
Work continues at the new urban extension at Nansledan in Newquay with the Duchy of Cornwall, the restoration and preservation of a number of listed or historic buildings, and a variety of projects overseas. Living Tradition, a new book on Mr Petter’s recent work, will be published by Triglyph Books this autumn.
01962 843843; adamarchitecture.com
Adam Richards Architects
Adam Richards has designed a number of award-winning projects, including his own new-build house, Nithurst Farm, West Sussex (Country Life, August 5, 2020), which, in 2021, won a Georgian Group award for a new work in the spirit of the Georgian era. With studios in London and West Sussex, the practice has recently completed a major refurbishment and extension of a Georgian manor house and a wellness resort on a Sussex estate.
Current projects include the restoration of a London house by John Nash, another wellness resort on a second Sussex estate, a health centre and boarding house at a girls’ school in East Sussex and apartment buildings in the town of Lewes. Mr Richards is also a member of the South Downs National Park Design Review Panel.
020–7613 5077; www.adamrichards.co.uk
Ben Pentreath runs a highly successful architectural and master-planning interior-design practice, alongside Rupert Cunningham, Rob Illingworth and Tamara Lancaster. Current projects include a town in Kent, a number of historical restorations and several new houses in the English countryside. In March 2023, he will receive the 2023 Richard H. Driehaus Prize, awarded to a living architect whose work embodies the highest principles of traditional and classical architecture and urbanism in contemporary society, and reflects what the jury considers to be positive cultural, environmental and artistic impacts. His new book, An English Vision, will be published by Rizzoli next year.
020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com
Benjamin Tindall Architects
Renowned for repairs and alterations to historic buildings, the firm offers a full range of services, from landscaping to the design of light fittings and ironmongery. Notable projects include the restoration of a major Arts-and-Crafts house in the Channel Islands, Bonnington House at the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, Edinburgh, and the historic almshouses of Cowane’s Hospital, Stirling.
0131–220 3366; www.benjamintindallarchitects.co.uk
Craig Hamilton Architects
Craig Hamilton Architects is an award-winning architectural practice led by Craig Hamilton and Dr Gail Kenton, who joined the company as managing director in 2022. A diverse range of architectural projects is undertaken by the company throughout the UK and abroad, from private houses to estate master planning.
Among recently completed projects are a large commercial office building and 228ft bell tower in Dallas, Texas, US, for which the practice won the ICAA 2022 John Staub Awards in the Commercial and Institutional Architecture categories.
01982 553312; www.craighamiltonarchitects.com
Donald Insall Associates
This leading architectural practice, now more than 60 years old and with nine UK offices, specialises in the care, repair and adaptation of historic buildings and the design of new ones, including private houses, on sensitive sites. Recent projects include the restoration of the Grade II-listed pier in Colwyn Bay, Conwy; conservation at one of the grandest Georgian country houses in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire; and repair and restoration at Rivington Terraced Gardens on the edge of the West Pennine moors.
020–7245 9888; www.donaldinsallassociates.co.uk
Francis Terry and Associates
Francis Terry is an award-winning architect, renowned for designing country houses in the classical style. He founded his own practice seven years ago, having worked for his eminent architect father, Quinlan Terry, for 20 years. He is a talented artist, using his watercolours to bring ideas to life, and also a writer, whose musings on architecture can be found on his website and in his books.
01206 580528; www.ftanda.co.uk
Giles Quarme Architects
Giles Quarme and Natasha Brown run a historic building practice known for its sensitive alterations, extensions and traditionally designed new houses. They are passionate about the restoration of historic buildings and Mr Quarme is chair of Historic Buildings & Places (formerly known as the AMS). Both are accredited in conservation and the practice is full of talented conservation architects.
Current projects include The Wiston Estate, which dates to about 1590, and Pitshill in West Sussex, Glynde Place, East Sussex, and Aston Hall, Shropshire. Other projects include the renovation of Paisley Museum, Glasgow, and country houses nationwide. The firm has received numerous awards, most recently for Frogmore House, Watford.
020–7582 0748; www.quarme.com
Specialists in the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings in Scotland and Ireland for more than 40 years, this Edinburgh-based practice, formerly known as Groves-Raines Architects Studios, is now run by the son of the founders, Gunnar Groves-Raines, and is developing a reputation for progressive new-builds.
Recent projects include Kyle House and Lundies House on the Wildland estates in the Scottish Highlands and an architectural gem, Lamb’s House in Leith.
0131–467 7777; www.gras.co
Hoare, Ridge & Morris
Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge now run the creative practice they founded with Charles Morris, designing alterations and additions to country houses, as well as new buildings with traditional character and high-energy performance. The pair’s understanding of the relationship between house and garden and the flow of rooms means that their work typically extends to detailed interior and landscape design.
01728 688747; www.hrma.co.uk
Ian Adam-Smith Architects
English country-house specialist Ian Adam-Smith and his team work primarily on private houses and estates in West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. He has recently been joined by his son Mungo, who continues the tradition. The practice has worked on important houses by Lutyens and current projects include houses by Voysey, Shaw and Lorimer. Mr Adam-Smith is also working on a number of projects in Barbados.
01428 644644; www.ianadam-smith.co.uk
John Simpson Architects
A leading proponent of New Classicism, John Simpson is known for both residential and institutional designs, including a new building in Kensington for the Royal College of Music and the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in Nottinghamshire (Country Life, January 2, 2019), among many other projects.
020–7405 1285; www.johnsimpsonarchitects.com
Johnston Cave Associates
The practice is known for the sensitive design of substantial buildings in established settings and the integration of new designs and modern services into old country houses. The firm’s current projects include the restoration of a Grade II*-listed house in Chelsea, the transformation of a large country estate in Oxfordshire and new-build houses in Surrey and London.
01865 865165; www.johnstoncave.com
Marc Deaves Architect
An imaginative country-house expert who handles a small number of projects each year, Marc Deaves has recently completed work on a Wiltshire rectory with 13th-century origins. He is currently tackling a historic country-house refurbishment in the Cotswolds, balancing the use of traditional craft skills with the need for modern technologies appropriate to a zero-carbon age, as well as projects for London’s Cadogan and Grosvenor estates.
07970 458025; www.marcdeaves.com
Mother and daughter Fiona McLean and Kate Quinlan run this award-winning family practice alongside Kate’s husband, Alastair Bowden. With studios in Winchester and London, they are known for designing contemporary new-build houses with a pared-back beauty.
The practice recently completed a three-bedroom, low-energy house in south-west London, with very high levels of insulation and discreetly integrated solar panels.
020–8870 8600; www.mcleanquinlan.com
Peregrine Bryant Architects
Renowned for scholarly restorations of historic buildings, Peregrine Bryant founded his practice 29 years ago. Winner of the Georgian Group 2021 Award for Restoration of a Country House for Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire (Country Life, March 9, 2022), the firm — with other projects — continues to work at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3, on the adaptation of Sir John Soane’s Stable Building to new uses.
020–7384 2111; www.peregrine-bryant.co.uk
Philip Hughes Associates
Established in 1982 by chartered building surveyor Philip Hughes, the firm offers both surveying and architectural services, counting the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust among its clients. Recent projects include breathing new life into the Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles House, Dorset, and work to the Russell-Cotes Museum in Bournemouth.
01963 824240; www.pha-building-conservation.co.uk
Ptolemy Dean Architects
Historic-building conservationist, author and television presenter Ptolemy Dean is the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, a post once held by Sir Christopher Wren. His current projects include the reinstatement of the abbey’s long-destroyed Great Sacristy, according to its 13th-century footprint, and the creation of a new access ramp at the west front. He is also completing, with garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, the remaking of Aldourie Castle and estate in Scotland.
020–7378 7714; www.ptolemydean.co.uk
This internationally renowned architectural and heritage-consultancy practice has 11 studios across the UK, plus others in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. Its forte is bringing contemporary design solutions to historic environments, such as the revitalisation of a derelict site in Cornwall to create a county archive, Kresen Kernow, and the transformation of the historic thatched barn into a visitor centre at Christ Church in Oxford. The practice has also recently completed a strategic masterplan for Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
020–7397 7171; www.purcelluk.com
Quinlan Terry Architects
An expert in designing new classical buildings that sit so comfortably in their surroundings that they look as if they have always been there, Quinlan Terry heads a practice known for private and public work. Current projects include rural residences in the Home Counties and South of England.
01206 323186; www.qtarchitects.com
Richard Parr Associates
Founded by Richard Parr in 1994, this architectural practice is known for its ‘modern traditionalist’ approach to residential and hospitality projects around the UK, with a wealth of expertise in the Cotswolds and a strong reputation for reinventing historically sensitive sites. The firm has recently completed the refurbishment of a 17th-century manor house, complete with Arts-and-Crafts additions, in Gloucestershire, and thoughtfully transformed an original farm hamlet into 17 hotel-room suites with a restaurant, indoor pool and spa to become the Farmyard at The Newt in Somerset. The practice has also transformed a historic barn into an award-winning additional workspace at its Cotswold office, and launched a new studio in London.
01453 860200; www.richardparr.com
Russell Taylor Architects
A well-respected expert on Georgian and Regency architecture, Russell Taylor’s classical designs range from new houses, orangeries and garden pavilions to individual components, such as chimneypieces, fitted furniture and architectural details. The practice, from offices in London and Cornwall, has a track record in adapting historic and listed houses to modern living. Current projects include a number of townhouses and country houses in Somerset, Cornwall and the Home Counties.
020–7261 1984; 01503 273092; www.rtarchitects.co.uk
Well known for his passionate conservation of historic properties in Bath, where he is based, Simon Morray-Jones has almost 40 years of experience of restoration, conservation and new-builds to draw upon.
Most recently, the practice has completed the main house and spa for The Newt hotel in Somerset and is currently working on private country houses in Hampshire, Devon and the Cotswolds.
01225 787900; www.sm-j.com
Simpson & Brown Architects
Established in 1977, Simpson & Brown is an Edinburgh-based multi-disciplinary practice specialising in architecture, archaeology and heritage consultancy. It continues to be involved in a number of historic sites, including Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders, the former Royal High School in Edinburgh and Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Most recently, the practice led the transformation of the ruined Fairburn Tower in the Scottish Highlands into a holiday let for the Landmark Trust and completed the award-winning restoration of Asknish House in Argyll into an energy-efficient family home.
0131–555 4678; www.simpsonandbrown.co.uk
A strong player in the world of country houses, Smallwood is known for the remodelling of historic houses and the building of new ones, with an understanding of what it is that makes for successful and sustainable 21st-century country living. The practice recently received an award in the International Property Awards for its work to the Cashel Palace Hotel in Co Tipperary. The firm has offices in London and the West Country and works on medium-to-large project across the UK, Ireland and beyond.
020–7376 5744; www.smallwoodarchitects.co.uk
Stanhope Gate Architecture
Established in 2002, this practice enjoys an international reputation for its immaculately detailed classical architecture. The firm’s work encompasses new-builds, master planning and refurbishment of listed and historic buildings, as well as collegiate, hotel and resort projects in the UK and overseas.
Led by principal Alireza Sagharchi, who is a leading practitioner and exponent of contemporary classical architecture and traditional urban design, the practice’s private residential work extends from the reimagining of a country house on the Isle of Jura (Country Life, August 31, 2022) to a new-build home in Holland Park, a Caribbean retreat in Nassau with its own lighthouse and a 27,000sq ft new-build house in Berkshire. Other work includes a large equestrian facility in Spain and The King’s home, which is also a training centre and educational facility, in the UNESCO-protected village of Viscri, Transylvania.
Some of the projects can be enjoyed in Mr Sagharchi’s book, Classicism at Home (£65, Rizzoli), in which he reveals his vision for combining the wisdom of the past with the needs of contemporary living. The architect is also particularly well known for his contextual approach to architecture — an understanding that the building must work in harmony with the locality, whether it is a house in the desert or an eco-resort on the edge of the Danube.
020–7451 0955; www.stanhopegatearchitecture.com
Stuart Martin Architects
Based in Dorset, this practice specialises in one-off houses and conservation work across southern England, including London. Its recent projects include the design of a house to Passivhaus standards in Berkshire, a timber-frame cottage in Somerset entirely clad in oak and cedar and restoration works on a Grade I-listed house in Devon. On the drawing board is a design for a Victorian house on the coast of Exmoor and a tiny wooden cottage in Somerset.
01935 83543; www.stuartmartinarchitects.com
Thomas Croft Architects
Strong on contemporary interventions in historic buildings, including, in London, Albany on Piccadilly and an important 1790 Robert Adam townhouse on Fitzroy Square, Tom Croft also specialises in new buildings in traditional settings. They currently include the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion in Cowes, Isle of Wight, the reworking of a Gothic Revival farm by William Butterfield in Hertfordshire and a three-storey folly at the listed gardens at Doddington Place in Kent.
020–8962 0066; www.thomascroft.com
This Cotswold-based practice works almost exclusively on private residential projects, particularly new-build country houses, as well as pool houses and leisure buildings, currently including a contemporary complex with pool, gym, hammam, yoga studio and home cinema for a house in Berkshire. The company recently received the Giles Worsley Award for New Building in the Spirit of the Georgian Era in the Georgian Group Architectural Awards.
01285 888150; www.yiangou.com
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