Tell us a little about Square Feet Architects.

I set up Square Feet nearly 20 years ago now - how time has flown! We started out with a focus purely on architectural projects, renovating older and designing new buildings. In recent years, however, we have expanded into development with our SQFT: DEVELOPS branch of the business.

Our projects span a broad range of clients and sectors - including exterior and interior design for private homes, architecture for educational buildings, commercial sites, and mixed-use developments.

What was your vision for the practice?

There are so many influences on our built landscape - from architectural trends to climate considerations, from population growth to the shifting demographics of our modern towns and cities. That being said, these broader considerations make up just half the story when it comes to architecture. Buildings should be designed for the people who use them - the individuals, the families, the communities. When I founded Square Feet, I wanted to create bespoke, beautiful spaces shaped for the people who would live or work there.

Nearly two decades later, we have kept this focus at the centre of our work. While we've branched out to projects across a range of sectors - education, faith, commercial, private housing, to name a few - Square Feet continues to approach each design with the diverse needs of individual clients in mind, meaning that every project is different. We describe ourselves as "Attentive, Creative, and Constructive", and I think this sums up our approach: attentive to the needs of clients, creative in how we meet those desires, and - of course - constructive in getting the job done.

Can you tell us about a project that you particularly enjoyed working on?

We've worked with quite a lot of educational establishments, which is always a great challenge. A few years ago, we designed a space for Sacks Morasha, a Jewish Primary School in Finchley. Having first opened in 2008, the school community was growing each year and eventually, it became clear that extra space was needed for the increasing student body. Square Feet was engaged to find an appropriate location for the school, and to redevelop the site to meet the needs of teachers and pupils.

We found a Victorian church hall building on Stanhope Road - a beautiful space in a perfect location. The challenge then was to convert this site into a space that provided for the educational needs of the pupils without undermining the historic fabric of the building.

Blending old and new, we were able to retain many of the original elements of the building, such as the timber beams and the arched windows. At the same time, we added modern elements to the building to ensure it was both comfortable and conducive to learning. Staying sympathetic to the site's historic beauty, we were able to create a space where function met beauty and students could learn in a comfortable, character-filled environment.

How do you see architecture impacting communities?

The importance of our built environment to our lives should not be underestimated. We all want to feel safe, we all want to feel comfortable, and we all need places that allow us to pursue our passions. Opportunities arise from spaces. Having a gym hall at a school allows children to take part in sports and games; providing sufficient library space in a college means that every student, no matter their home situation, has a place that they can go to study; establishing a community centre can help to bring residents together in a divided neighbourhood.

In 2019, we worked on one such community centre in Camden Town. An older area in the bustling centre of London, Camden has traditionally given rise to close-knit communities where neighbours know neighbours. In recent times however, with the population growing and many of Camden's long-standing residents moving away, the area was in need of a glue to help the community bind together. An existing community centre was already in place when we began working in Camden in 2019, which included a nursery school, a football pitch, a horticultural hub, and a hall. While all of the foundations for a strong community space were there, each individual element of the site felt disconnected from the rest. Our "Bringing Together" masterplan aims to create a space with community at the core, where each element feeds into an overall atmosphere of unity and support.

Designing spaces for community in mind not only makes it physically easier for neighbourhoods to come together, but also helps to show people the value of getting together and looking out for one another.

What's next for Square Feet?

We want to carry on doing great quality work in a variety of areas, and with our SQFT: HOME and SQFT: DEVELOPS arms we always have our hands full with lots of exciting projects. We'll be looking to grow our portfolio further and making a real difference to the built environment around us. 

For more information visit Square Feet