Monthly Archives: November 2016

Homes & Property: dRMM Calls for More Flatpack Housing in London - 24-11-2016


The lessons of the past 20 years will shape British architecture going forward – and could even solve the housing crisis. Sadie Morgan of progressive, wood-loving architecture practice de Rijke Marsh Morgan — or dRMM — talks about flatpack housing, her passion for placemaking and pick’n’mix homes.

Sadie Morgan, a director of architects De Rijke Marsh Morgan — dRMM — has just been made a professor, awarded an honorary doctorate, and won Building Magazine’s personality of the year. At this year’s Stirling Awards, dRMM’s Trafalgar Place was shortlisted for the top prize.

Morgan believes in community and placemaking, and that the combination of sustainable materials and brilliant design enhances life, will help solve our housing problems — and save money, too.

“The thing we’ve done wrong in the past is lack any sense of community. I was brought up in a commune in Sevenoaks, so I’ve always understood the importance of supporting the people who live around you. I used to come home from school and look after my great-grandmother. That important connection between young and old has been displaced.


Naked House:dRMM’s first flatpack house was designed 10 years ago

It’s important to mix homes for the elderly, for single people, for couples, for young families, all together.

“Simple things create community, like putting just a few flats round a staircase and making that staircase wide and appealing. Then you get to know your neighbours, help with the shopping, and chat. We did a development called Art House in King’s Cross with fantastic outside space, play areas, and planting. Good lighting made it feel safe. One tower was social rent, the others were for sale, so there was a good mix.

“At Trafalgar Place, there’s a new playground at ground level. The first-floor gardens are residents only, with safe play areas and small allotments. Half the development is built in cross-laminated timber, a fully sustainable, fast-growing material.

“Lendlease, the developer, let us do that. Like more and more developers, they understand the benefit of sustainable materials and good design. Materials are so important. We [dRMM] take everyday materials, such as wood, which aren’t expensive, and use them in interesting ways. Good design can solve problems, add value and save money.


“My big plan for the next 20 years is to put people together from different creative disciplines to solve problems. Engineers, designers, architects, software designers. Like creating one big, creative brain.


Wood Blocks: dRMM is designing timber shell housing that you equip and furnish as and when you can afford it


“The UK has world-renowned architects and engineers, we export the most extraordinary talent, and we produce brilliant maverick designers — like Thomas Heatherwick.

“Education will help. Children are passionate about making. We should teach them about good design and space from an early age, take them round building sites, show them amazing engineering, like Crossrail, to make better designers and better consumers for the future.

“And there should be more flatpack. We built our first flatpack house, Naked House, 10 years ago. You could ship it in a container and erect it in 24 hours. All the furniture was cut out from the walls — a skylight became a table.

“This year, we’re designing Wood Blocks, a development of timber shell housing with a warehouse look, that you furnish as you go along. It’s 40 per cent cheaper than conventional housing, cut out off-site with CNC machines.


Developers are starting to build fabrication places in the UK.”


• A national programme of building fast, sustainable housing, but keeping regional identities. Mass production with character.

• Off-site prefabrication of shells that buyers individualise.

• Educate and design and a practical understanding.

• Train up the new skills we need for off-site construction and flatpack.

Written by Philippa Stockley for Homes & Property.


Sadie judge at World Architecture Festival Awards, Berlin - 23-11-2016


The World Architecture Festival is the
world’s largest festival and live awards
event dedicated to celebrating and sharing architectural excellence from across
the globe.

Sadie has been a judge for the WAF awards since 2014, this year she sat on the panel that determined the 2016 Housing category winner; the brilliant Aluminium Tip in Paris, France by Babin+Renaud.

Sadie lectures internationally on the importance of design, architecture and infrastructure, and sits on various competition juries and advisory panels including the RIBA National Awards Advisory panel.


As a media commentator sadie appears on TV and radio, and writes regular columns for publications such as Building Magazine and the Estates Gazette.

To read more about Sadie visit our People page.

sadie-morgan-drmm-waf-berlin-2016-4 sadie-morgan-drmm-waf-berlin-2016-1


Sadie receives Building Magazine Personality of the Year Award -


We proudly congratulate our Director Sadie Morgan, on being the first woman to be named Building Magazine Personality of the Year. Sadie is a huge inspiration to everyone at dRMM. 

The Building Awards are the UK construction industry’s most prestigious recognition of excellence, with over 1200 leading industry figures attending each year.

Sadie is a Founding Director of dRMM and an industry leader. Her steadfast belief in the importance of design that connects back to people and place is a central influence in our practice.

Over her 20-year career Sadie has had an increasingly significant role in the advocacy of design and architecture through her professional practice and her advisory roles.

Read more about Sadie and her inspiring work on our People page.



Hastings Pier redevelopment brings national treasure back to life - 17-11-2016


A national treasure brought back to life; dRMM has reimagined the Victorian pleasure pier as a sustainable, flexible platform able to accommodate a range of uses for years to come.

Creative use of timber is at the heart of the transformed Pier design. The new visitor centre is a 100% cross-laminated timber structure, clad in the timber decking that survived the 2010 fire. This reclaimed timber was also used to make the furniture on the deck, designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Ltd as part of a local employment initiative.

The visitor centre has been designed as an adaptable space for indoor events, exhibitions and educational activities, with an elevated belvedere on top. A glass walled, open-air ‘room’ looks out to the vast views over the Pier and beyond toward Europe, then back to the town and coast.

Learn more about this iconic revitalisation project here.



Alex keynote speaker at Barcelona Timber Construction Congress -


dRMM Director, Professor Alex de Rijke gave a keynote presentation on the importance of timber in modern architecture at Fusta Constructiva, the Barcelona Timber Construction Congress and Festival.

Alongside other recognised leaders in timber architecture and design, he presented a tour through dRMM’s high profile projects since 2006 titled ’21 Reasons to Construct Timber Buildings’.

These projects included the CLT flatpack housing prototype, Naked House and the Kingsdale School Sports and Music building, with its sculptural roof geometry and inventive cladding details, through to Maggie’s Oldham the worlds first hardwood CLT building made from a new engineered timber co-invented by dRMM and Hastings Pier, with its inventive use of repurposed timber.

Fusta Constructiva believes constructive solutions in wood have the potential to bring about a revolution in the building industry through a high quality sustainable development, creating growth in the local economy and contributing to minimize climate change.

Click here to visit the Fusta Constructiva website.

Photos © Carla Mur.




dRMM wins Development of the Year at the British Home Awards -


dRMM’s Trafalgar Place has been awarded Development of the Year at the British Home Awards. The awards recognise the talent, effort and innovation of architects, designers, housebuilders, developers and affordable housing providers, and celebrate the quality of the homes and communities they create.

They showcase the best in design to industry and consumers, and are judged by an independent panel of designers, developers and industry experts.

Trafalgar Place is a flagship housing project in the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle. Made up of 235 high-quality homes, the project transforms the built environment whilst respecting the history of neighbouring buildings.


The transformation of the former Heygate Estate enriches the qualities of the area, creating a thriving, desirable place to live, work and visit. Separate buildings are integrated within an open green landscape characterised by mature trees and diverse new planting. A new public realm within the historic fabric of the neighbourhood is created.


The plot layout reconnects the dislocated adjacent neighbourhoods that were previously fractured by the elevated walkways and monolithic blocks of the Heygate Estate. The careful retention of 25 mature London Plane trees serves as a positive memory of the former estate and now frames character landscapes designed by Grant Associates. A new public street has been created through the scheme, along with an internal private landscaped courtyard – a community space for residents to cultivate food and neighbourliness.




The scheme was designed and developed in consultation with Southwark Council and local residents. The massing and height of the buildings provides the required density with a variety of scale and form; a mixture of mini-tower, apartment buildings and terraced houses. The forms are simple, prioritising interior space and spaces between buildings. Apartments are mainly dual aspect and designed to maximise natural daylight, ventilation and views.


Two of the buildings at Trafalgar Place are made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and demonstrate dRMM’s commitment to environmentally smart modern construction. This is the first completed residential development for Lendlease in the UK using this form of construction, a prototype for the masterplan. Windows and balconies are large and of high quality. The polychromatic brickwork employed throughout the scheme incorporates expressive detail, articulating windows, walls and corners.

For further information

Please go to the Trafalgar Place project page for more details and a full list of project team credits.