Architects and Sustainable Architecture

Where to get advice on finding an the UK.
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Architects and architectural design

Some thoughts on finding an architect -firstly not just anyone can call themslelves an architect -under UK law to use the title you must be registered by ARB (Architects Registration Board) -all registered UK architects can be found by searching on the ARB database on their website. The second important point is that registered architects are required to carry Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII). You should insist on seeing details of your architects registration, and his or her Professional Indemnity insurance Certificate. Don't be afraid to ask.
However, firstly you need to find your architect. You could use yellow pages, but we wouldn't recommend it. By far the best method is personal recommendation. This way you get to hear a client opinion as well as see the sort of work the architect does. If you do not know anyone who can recommend an architect, then your next point of contact should be the ROyal Institute of British Architects Client advisory service. They also publish a useful guide on appointing an architect. If you are engaging a practice, you can find RIBA registered practices at RIBAfind.
Compatibility is very important -ask to see other examples of recent work, and for client references. If necessary interview more than one architect, and definitely agree fees before work commences. If you have an historic building, you may wish to look at the database of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation.

Contracts and Builders
When undertaking a building project, you would be wise to protect yourself by entering a proper contract with your builder. This will set out the parameters, such as description of the work, standards of workmanship, how long it will take, when payment is released and other key terms of engagement.
One such contract is the JCT (Joint Contracts Tribnal) Homeowners Contract. This is produced by the same people responsible for standard contracts on major building projects, only this one is produced with the homeowner in mind, and written in fairly plain English. It also includes an agreement with your architect, so you can use one agreement for both Architect and Builder. The contract is available to purchase online at It comes in PDF format and once the form is completed, you can print two final copies for the contract.

Further Information:


  • Arb -Architects Registration Board -the organisation responsible for administering the registration of architects in the UK -includes a searchable database of architects.
  • Architects Accredited in Building Conservation -the RIBA listing of architects experienced in the conservation of historic buildings.
  • ArchitectureRoom -architecture resource with books on house design, plus competitions, jobs and publications.
  • Architecture Centre Bristol -exhibitions, events and bookshop.
  • Associated Self Build Architects -News, views and ideas from Britain's largest network of practising architects who specialise in the design of individual homes, refurbishments and extensions.
  • Barbour Compendium -the online version of the famous architects directory of construction materials and components suppliers.
  • Design for Homes -a resource for everyone with an interest in the design of homes and housing, including news, events, project focus, forum, jobs and CPD.
  • Find an Engineer -site operated by the Institution of Structural Engineers allows you to search for an engineer by specialism, and has a useful guide to appointing a Structural Engineer.
  • National House-Building Council -the independent regulator and standards setter for the new homes industry. Register of builders and useful advice on buying or building a new home.
  • ProHelp -national network of over one thousand professional firms who give time and expertise for free to local community groups and voluntary organisations.
  • Sponge -an independant network for property and construction professionals interested in sustainable development of the built environment.

Architects specialising in sustainability

  • Archipeleco -the Practice of ecological architect, Lucy Pedlar.
  • Architype -practice led by Bob Hayes and Jonathon Hines working mainly in the social sector with 20+ years of producing sustainable buildings. Offices in London and Hereford.
  • Askew -Bristol based architects carrying out environmental and urban renewal projects from studio offices in Stokes Crodt, Bristol.
  • BBM Architects-architects and energy consultants specialising in sustainable design, based in Lewes and London.
  • Constructive Individuals -founded in 1985 by Phil Bixby to offer design and training services to self-builders. Phil continues to offer these services from a practice based in York, while the London office is run by directors, Peter Smithdale and John Rees.
  • Eco Arc -award winning architects and environmental design consultants based in North Yorkshire..
  • Forever Green -run by Rob Hillier, Forever Green is dedicated to designing buildings that use natural materials and processes to work with nature.
  • Gale and Snowden -ecological and energy efficient architects based in Bideford, North Devon.
  • Hawkes -architect for the Crossway Passivhaus near Staplehurst in Kent, featured on Grand Designs
  • Mole Architects -beautiful and contemporary eco houses.
  • Sustainable Earth Architecture -
  • ZedFactory -Bill Dunster's practice, designers of BedZed (Beddington Zero Energy Development), and more other low carbon developments.

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Featured books:

Natural Flair (Eco Architecture)
Taschen Publishing Paperback
Oct 2008
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Strategies for Sustainable Architecture
Paola Sassi
15 Dec 2005
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Sue Roaf
Jul 2007
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The Complete Guide to Designing Your Own Home
Scott T. Ballard
Betterway Books
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