Forge Ahead

What’s in a name? Christopher Moore from We Design Homes introduces us to Forgeworks, an architecture practice with an eye, and an ear, for the poetic.

forgeworks we design homes

A House for Sunday lunches. A house for writing. A house for floristry. A house for retirement. These are the names of some of the recently completed projects by Forgeworks, practice based in London and the South West who specialise in residential architecture. It’s a naming convention that speaks to both a lyrical approach to their work, and a singular understanding of their client’s motivations. Even their own practice name – Forgeworks – is imbued with the spirit of both art and craft.

Chris Hawkins is one of the two principals who set-up the practice after entering an eco-house competition and, on the strength of their entry, winning a number of new commissions and referrals. He says the names of their projects are not blithe decisions. ‘We want the names of the houses to stand out from the crowd, not just be ‘Smith Street House’ or ‘Jones House’,’ he explains. ‘But more importantly we want them to reflect the clients’ ambitions for each project. There are hundreds of considerations on any new project, but we try to distil the essence of the project down to the thing that is most important to the client.’

Forgeworks House for Sunday Lunch

House for Sunday Lunch by Forgeworks.
Photographs by French + Tye.

Take a House for Sunday lunches, as an example. It’s a beautifully crafted refurbishment and extension to a north London Victorian terrace home. A limited palette of materials and colours exudes a calm modernity within the context of a residential conservation area – what Chris calls ‘similarity through texture and quality rather than visual similarity’. It’s a home for a couple who sought ‘intimate and practical spaces’ for their lives five-days-a-week but needed to facilitate a boisterous gaggle of family and friends on weekends. The ‘Sunday lunches’ are a regular event and highlight of the familial calendar. Provision for gatherings is made via a flexible timber banquette seat, room for a large table, an increased cooking capacity in the kitchen and increased storage options. Interestingly, the rear extension challenges the convention that full-width glazing is required to connect indoor and outdoor spaces. A nook and window seat at the rear elevation can serve as a quiet reading space on a Tuesday, or the head of the table that regularly sits 16-20 people on a Sunday.

forgeworks twilight

When Chris talks about the practice’s work, he refers to ‘crafted identity’ as a hallmark. Forgeworks is a practice that likes to celebrate the use of natural materials and traditional construction techniques. There’s a lovely example of this approach in their ‘House for writing’, where a latticed plywood ceiling caps the shoulder of the kitchen/diner along the perimeter wall. The ceiling is both structural and an expressive visual element that draws light into the room and delineates the function of the space. It’s a beautifully detailed bit of work.

Chris describes Forgeworks’ approach to client service as one of ‘reassurance and hand-holding’ where their collaboration has the best opportunity to flourish. ‘The relationship is so important to a great outcome,’ he notes. ‘Trust is at the centre of that relationship.’ It’s clear from their growing body of work that they are trusted to design and deliver beautifully crafted homes from a group of discerning clients. And it comes with the added bonus that each project will be poetically named.

House for a Writer by Forgeworks.
Photographs by French + Tye.

Chris Hawkins Forgeworks

Chris Hawkins (pictured) of Forgeworks has an eye, and ear, for poetic architecture. Thank you for sharing your work with us. We look forward to the next projects.

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