Country Life has once again delved into its little black book and fully updated this list of the finest architects in Britain – an indispensable guide if you're considering serious work on your home.
The appetite for constructing a country house from scratch has never been greater. As family life in the 21st century turns ever more around large, open-plan spaces and the question of privacy and seclusion becomes more paramount, the solution is often to buy a greenfield site and build the dream.
It’s a process that demands careful thought. What makes a great English country house is the marriage between the building and the landscape. It’s this element, as well as a good, working relationship between the architect and the local planning officer, that can be the making or breaking of a new-build scheme.
Fortunately for anyone embarking on such a project — be it large-scale or modest in size — the pool of architectural talent in this country continues to grow. The output of our top-rated country-house architects varies in scale and style from classically inspired country mansions to distinctive new houses in a modern idiom, as well as traditional and contemporary barn conversions, family houses and domestic extensions to listed or sensitive buildings.
The Winchester- and London-based team of multi-award-winning architects and urban designers is one of the largest practices to specialise in new-build country houses. The company’s directors include leading lights in Classical architecture such as co-founder Robert Adam, George Saumarez Smith and Hugh Petter. Each stamps his own architectural personality on projects that range from Regency houses in Berkshire to a cottage orné extension in Yorkshire via a new Queen Anne country house in the Chilterns and a sustainable Cornish manor.
01962 843843; www.adamarchitecture.com
Founded in the 1980s by (architect) Lachlan and (textile designer) Annie Stewart, ANTA’s architecture is strongly informed by the Scottish vernacular. The practice embraces colours inspired by the Scottish landscape and is known for employing local materials and craftsmen. A favourite of The Prince of Wales, the practice has worked at Eilean Donan Castle and the Queen Mother’s memorial garden at Castle of Mey.
01862 832477; www.anta.co.uk
From striking houses to master-planning, Ben Pentreath and his team create thoughtful, distinctive designs that fly a flag for the possibilities of classically inspired architecture. Recent projects include designs for Tornagrain, a proposed new town near Inverness, and Sulis Down, 200 homes near Bath that draw on the Arts-and-Crafts vernacular.
020–7430 2424; www.benpentreath.com
Having studied architecture at the University of Natal, Craig moved to the UK in 1986 and established this practice in 1991. Based in Radnorshire, he undertakes projects throughout the UK and abroad and has a reputation for progressive Classical and traditional architecture. He also specialises in chapels, for which he has won Georgian Group awards two years running.
01982 553312; www.craighamiltonarchitects.com
Established in 1958, the firm’s focus is on the care, repair and adaption of historic buildings, as well as designing new buildings for sensitive sites. It takes particular pride in using locally sourced materials and incorporating energy-efficient technologies into new and old houses. The company is working alongside BDP on the restoration of the Palace of Westminster and, in October 2017, it was announced that the firm will handle the major overhaul of Grade I-listed Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
020–7245 9888 ; www.donaldinsallassociates.co.uk
This East Yorkshire-based practice is best known for designing new-build country houses – indeed, it was the first to complete a house under the requirements of PPG7 (known as ‘Gummer’s Law’). It also designs village houses, cottages and interiors; in 2017, the firm received a commendation by the Georgian Group for the restoration of the interiors of Euston Hall in Suffolk.
01262 674043; www.francisjohnson-architects.co.uk
Having moved on from his father’s practice (see Quinlan & Francis Terry LLP Architects, below) in 2016, Francis Terry and his team continue to create classically designed country houses. In June 2017, he was elected to lead RIBA’s traditionalist wing and the company is currently working on a new-build Palladian-style house in Norfolk.
01206 580528; http://ftanda.co.uk
Historic buildings are a practice speciality. The restoration work by the London-based team on Grade I-listed Glynde Place in the South Downs National Park was recognised with no fewer than five awards in 2017. Work on the Elizabethan mansion preserved its historic features while allowing it to become a comfortable, 21st-century family home.
020–7582 0748; www.quarme.com
Specialising in projects that require a contemporary response to sensitive settings – both in west London and the Cotswolds – Tom Smith and Robert Gluckman work on extensions to Victorian houses, barn conversions and new-build houses within historic landscapes. One recent example is Font House, in the grounds of Nevill Holt, Leicestershire, where the practice replaced a tired, 1960s bungalow set in a walled garden with a one-storey, two-bedroom house with façades constructed from local ironstone.
020–7998 1525; www.gluckmansmith.com
This Edinburgh-based, award-winning practice specialises in the conservation, restoration and reuse of existing historic buildings. Established in 1972, it has been involved in saving a number of A-Listed castles, churches and fortified houses from dereliction across Scotland and in Ireland. In 2017, founder Nicholas Groves-Raines was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
0131–467 7777; http://grovesraines.com
A relatively new practice, founded in 2012 by Mark Hoare (previously of ADAM Architecture), Ted Ridge and Charles Morris, it covers considerable ground, from master-planning village extensions to interior design, based from its office in Snape Maltings, Suffolk. Recent projects have included alterations and repairs to important listed buildings as well as the design of new houses and landscaping.
01728 688747; www.hrma.co.uk
Founded by Anthony Hudson in 1992, its projects range from a modern family house in Jersey to the transformation of a Tudor barn in Essex into a stylish modern home. The practice has two offices: one in Norwich and the other in Clerkenwell, London.
01603 766220; http://hudsonarchitects.co.uk
Housed in a group of barns on the Surrey/West Sussex border, this practice takes on major projects primarily in the surrounding counties, as well as London. Completed projects include the reconfiguration and extension of Pickhurst, near Chiddingfold, Surrey, which featured in Country Life last year.
01428 644644; www.ianadam-smith.co.uk
James Gorst says his practice, which has won several awards for its Modernist homes, is focused on creating domestic architecture that explores abstract form that ‘doesn’t hark back to traditional porches or pitched roofs’. Recent projects include Hannington Farm in Northamptonshire – an assembly of buildings with asymmetrical roofs – and a two-storey extension to a Georgian house in London.
020–7336 7140; www.jamesgorstararchitects.com
Has extensive experience of working on public and educational buildings – ongoing projects include a new building at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA, and the £25 million redevelopment of the Royal College of Music in Kensington. Based in Bloomsbury, residential projects range from mansions in New York and Paris to country houses across the UK.
020–7405 1285; www.johnsimpsonarchitects.com
Founded in 1999, following an amalgamation of two of the longest-practising firms in the South-West. Work ranges from larger country houses to conservation projects and domestic extensions.
01305 262636; www.jscp.co.uk
Julian Bicknell leads a large team of traditional architects who design buildings, landscapes and interiors across the UK and worldwide. One of his most celebrated houses, the neo-Classical Henbury Hall near Macclesfield, Cheshire, is widely recognised as one of the most important country houses built in England during the late 20th century.
020–8891 1001; www.julianbicknell.co.uk
Specialists in old and listed buildings, as well as new buildings in sensitive areas, this practice is family-run from offices in Saffron Walden, Essex. It has a strong focus on East Anglia and the Home Counties; work includes the remodelling of listed houses, basement extensions and pool houses as well as more esoteric projects, such as garages with bat lofts.
01799 599208; www.kpt.co.uk
Although Kit Rae-Scott is not a qualified architect, his passion for historic buildings – one fan believes he can describe and draw the floor plans of every great house in England – is well known throughout the West Country. Work includes Whithurst Park, a new Jacobean-style manor house in Sussex.
01297 22172; mailto:email@example.com
After starting out in retail and hotel design, Edinburgh-based Lindsay Buchan established his own practice in 1993. Working on the refurbishment, extension and design of town houses and country villas throughout the UK, there is a particular focus on Edinburgh and East Lothian, where he’s known to have good relationship with both local planners and Historic Scotland.
0131–554 9008; www.lindsaybuchan.com
Having started his career working on historic buildings for large London estates, this publicity-shy architect (he has no website) has worked on many important houses. One of his largest projects has been the comprehensive overhaul of Encombe House, near Corfe Castle in Dorset.
020–7498 9361; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
This practice was recently appointed by the new American owners of Crichel House in Dorset to reinstate missing elements to the house. Other projects include restoration and conservation of listed buildings all over the country. Last year, tragedy struck the firm when it lost newly appointed team member Gloria Trevisan in the Grenfell Tower fire. In memory of Gloria and her boyfriend, Marco, the company has established an annual award to help talented young Italian graduates interested in conservation architecture.
020–7384 2111; www.peregrine-bryant.co.uk
Architect, television presenter, the 19th Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey and Country Life contributor, Ptolemy Dean leads the field in historic preservation of buildings and designing new buildings in keeping with their surroundings. Projects include his own new-build farmhouse overlooking the Sussex Weald.
020–7378 7714; www.ptolemydean.co.uk
This award-winning practice has studios throughout the UK and is often involved with major projects on large country houses and historic buildings. In December 2017, it was appointed (jointly with Allies and Morrison) by the National Trust to ‘reimagine’ Clandon Park after it was damaged by fire in 2015.
020–7397 7171; www.purcelluk.com
Continuing the tradition of Classical architecture established by Raymond Erith in 1928, Quinlan Terry has designed many of the finest country houses built in the past three decades, including Ferne Park, Viscount Rothemere’s house on the Dorset/Wiltshire border.
01206 323186; www.qftarchitects.com
With a reputation for obtaining planning and listed-building consent in difficult and challenging areas, the practice specialises in Classical architecture, period designs and details. The main studio is in London, where a lot of work extending and remodelling houses takes place and the firm has a second office in Polperro, Cornwall.
020–7261 1984; http://rtarchitects.co.uk
An Edinburgh-based conservation firm that works on a range of projects, including an ogee-roofed pavilion at Wormiston House, Fife as well as the full restoration of the Landmark Trust’s Auchinleck House and the ongoing care of Lindisfarne castle.
0131–555 4678; www.simpsonandbrown.co.uk
This London-based firm (with a second office in Stamford, Lincolnshire) was founded by Christopher Smallwood in 1976. Its portfolio includes the refurbishment of a castle in Ireland, a new house in Connecticut, USA, a Palladian house in Hampshire and the conversion of a listed 18th-century stable block into an indoor pool and party barn.
020–7376 5744; www.smallwoodarchitects.co.uk
This Dorset-based practice designed the award-winning Chitcombe House in Woolland. Although initially focused on conservation work, the team is increasingly involved in new-build projects within the Classical and vernacular traditions, working all over the UK.
01935 83543; www.stuartmartinarchitects.com
This practice specialises in contemporary interventions in historic buildings as well as new buildings that relate strongly to historic settings. Many projects are in London, but the team has converted a Grade II-listed barn in Kent and a new house on the north Norfolk coast.
020–8962 0066; http://thomascroft.com
A firm of architects and surveyors based in Bath with a broad spectrum of experience of working on listed buildings and innovative new projects in sensitive conservation areas. Led by principal architect Mark Watson, it works on country and town houses of all sizes as well as estates, including Ilchester and Ozleworth.
01225 337273; www.wbf-bath.co.uk
With handsome offices in central Cirencester, this architectural practice has been responsible for the design of a number of classically inspired new-build country houses, including Rectory Farm at Church Enstone, Oxfordshire. It also specialises in highly contemporary pool houses and leisure complexes.
01285 888150; http://yiangou.com
List compiled by Arabella Youens
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