Meet The Maker: Studio 163

Meet The Maker: Studio 163

A: Who are you and what do you do? 

163: We are a small emerging architecture practice with bases in London and Norwich. Our company is made up of Lea, who hails from France and has lived in the UK for the last 9 years and Tom who was born and raised in Norwich.

We have experience of working in the UK, Italy, Spain and France with larger practices and are now settling in Norfolk. We’re an architecture studio first and foremost who take on anything from private houses, public realm projects, infill and refurbishment projects, urban design as well as 3D visualisations for other design studios sometimes. We are quite open to a wide range of potential clients and collaborators. We feel that being small allows us to be agile and shift between sectors accordingly allowing us to be involved in every project which comes through the door.

A: What kind of projects do you focus your practice on? 

163: Right now, we’re split maybe 50-50 between private family houses and public realm / community projects. It is difficult as a small practice sometimes to diversify the way in which larger practice can, especially in public sector projects as the tender process restricts SMEs quite heavily. We would definitely like to work across other sectors such as restaurants, cafes, yoga studios, shop design and start up workspaces in the area – we are currently working on a small co-working space near Norwich station where we are transforming a disused garage plot into new office spaces. We believe all projects, big or small, should be treated with the same merit and we do not want to limit ourselves to one type of project. Any new challenge will be an exciting one and we would love to keep expanding our knowledge and project base. One advantage we have as well is that our skills are quite complementary and while Tom prefers working at a larger, town / city scale, Lea loves to work with human connections and the intimate scale of a home.

A: What has been your favourite project so far? And why?

163: The Nook House was our first built commission as Studio 163 so that stands out in our minds. Having had experience in the past of finishing projects working for larger practices, there is nothing quite like the feeling of designing a space with passion, detail it and see it realised. We also really enjoy doing collaborations with architects or makers and we’ve recently been asked to plan a series of public spaces for a Covid-related scenario which has been really interesting to be involved in. We see this point in time as a massive opportunity to rethink how we design towns and cities, particularly in terms of car use and the resilience of our high streets.

A: Where do you draw your inspirations from?  

163: We do not like to approach our projects with a pre-existing bias or presumption about style. For example, if we feel it is more sensible and sustainable to retain a structure rather than demolish it, then we will. That said, we think our instinct tends to err towards taking into account the local vernacular and materiality and the way our clients live or what they aspire to. Art, landscape and history would also typically be something we would look into. We are also attracted to simple, clean design which doesn’t require fussy or unnecessary details and fixings. 

A: What is your favourite thing about the Norfolk community?

163: Tom having grown up in Norfolk, he has grown to appreciate what amazing natural beauty the region has and its real sense of being “local”. There is now evidence of growth in the creative scene in Norwich and Norfolk and the value associated with independent businesses. We love the creativity and energy that really comes through whether that be fashion, photography, food, as well as the warmth of people who seem genuinely willing to help others. For us it is the perfect mix between vibrant and laid-back and we love the idea that we, as architects, we could really collaborate with makers of all sorts for our projects and craft our designs with ceramicists, furniture makers, artists etc.

A: What can we expect for the future of Studio 163? 

163: We are already collaborating with some local practices, something we hope to do much more in the future. As a small practice we look forward to being more engaged with the community and hopefully work with independent local shops and restaurant design. We will still retain a base in London and hopefully open our doors to some international projects. One of the thing we are sure of is that we wish to remain a small and flexible studio.

If you’d like to see more of Studio 163’s projects view their website here & their Instagram here

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