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Five minutes with Graham West of West Architecture

19th August 2019

West Architecture, founded in 2006 by Graham West, is an award-winning practice based in London, working on residential, commercial and public buildings.

We talk to Graham about his influences, style and love of staircases…

Our first project, Phase 1 of Bavaria Road was a complete refurbishment of a former Methodist Church in North London. We designed a mezzanine level which perfectly utilised the double height ceiling of what would become a live/work studio. The plywood balustrade to the sleeping space and steel folded plate staircase were designed to retain the scale and simple beauty of the building.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan over the last twenty years and I think through a kind of osmosis I am influenced by Japanese architecture and design. Closer to home I really enjoy a lot of Swiss architecture.

I would say our work is quite paired back and rational. The studio believes in logical, rational design that uncovers beauty through elegant problem solving, striking a balance between artistry and technical ability.

My wife is an interior designer and has a much better knowledge of furniture than me. However, I do love our very battered Jacobson 3103 chairs!

Stairs always seem to provide a key role in our projects but hopefully they are never repetitive!

Inevitably everyone follows trends to some extent. However we try to design projects that are as timeless as possible.

It’s more about the type of work I admire. I tend to admire the earlier, smaller projects of architects, probably because I can relate to them more and they can be more exploratory in their approach.

We like working for clients who enjoy architecture and ideally are familiar with our other projects. It’s usually more about the client than the project.

It’s a cliché but I would say the Barbican is my favourite London landmark.

In terms of design inspiration my choice would be Tokyo and Milan for very different reasons!

We worked on the refurb of Collier Webb’s Pimlico Road Showroom in 2018, one of my favourite elements was the staircase which was rebuilt and completely transformed with a new balustrade. Formed from glass reinforced gypsum it creates a seamless, sweeping surface.

We’ve also worked with Collier Webb on a recent Islington project, this time on a subcontractor basis. Collier Webb created the Bronze patinated brass staircase balustrades. We worked with Matt from Collier Webb on the showroom and he was effectively our client, however on the staircase project the roles reversed which was quite interesting at times!

We’re currently on a number of domestic and hospitality projects including the adaption and extension of the upper levels of a twelve story tower in Brixton, which has just received planning permission. We’ll continue to work on projects that inspire us and enjoy the evolution that comes with a lot of our work. Our first ever project, the Dezeen Awards shortlisted Bavaria Road Phase I was continued with Phase II not that long ago, ten years after it first began, and yes there is another staircase!

To find out more about West Architecture you can visit their website here and follow them on Instagram.
You can also read more about the staircase at their Islington project via Architecture Today’s feature, Heavy Tread.