Design & Conserve

Manifest are chartered architects, offering a full range of services from measured survey and concept development through planning permission, detailed design and administration of building contracts for site works.  We are also accredited in historic building conservation (AABC), and have worked on listed and traditional structures across the country.  Our emphasis lies always on hand-crafted, traditional materials and the principles of natural building, seeking beauty and meaning in sustainable design.

The Manifestation of Landscape

Buildings are called to belong in their local landscapes, their materials derived from nearby sources, their forms and shapes not hiding, but complementing their surroundings, offering a uniquely human and harmonious contribution to the world.  Many historic buildings effortlessly achieve this goal, and this is one reason why we engage both with the conservation of old structures and the design of new projects.

Combining the development of our own craft skills, and an intensive study of tradition, with a love of the natural world and a willingness to listen to the context of landscape and bio-diversity, we hope that our buildings can truly be a manifestation of their site and surroundings.


New Houses

We delight in the privilege of designing a new house, seeking as always to discover what is special about the site, the context, and the landscape in which it will sit and be part of.  Design is a process of intensive listening, and our clients’ ideas, desires and dreams are as vital to this process as the surrounding natural world.  In all our projects, we aim to use the best of natural building techniques, allowing unprocessed materials to speak for themselves in the craft of their making.

Domestic Extensions

We are equally happy to design new stand-alone dwellings, or to extend existing houses in a sympathetic manner, realising dreams within a defined context.  We are frequently asked to consider how to extend historic structures (whether listed or not), and can bring our range of conservation skills to bear in the careful design and specification of new natural and breathable materials which will not compromise the precious older fabric sitting by it cheek by jowl.  This sort of work is closely related to our conservation and retro-fit, below.

Conservation & Retro-Fit

Historic Conservation

Registered with the Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC), we are experienced in the care and repair of a great range of historic structures and materials. The knowledge we gain through their repair and re-use complements our natural building approach to new-build projects.  Hugh Conway Morris completed the prestigious SPAB Lethaby Scholarship in 2009, and is a committed member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.  We carry out casework on behalf of the SPAB, and Hugh works as a specialist lime-burner at their annual Working Parties.

We have carried out works to a great number of historic buildings and structures, including dwellings, barns and churches.  We are able to offer an impressive range of services, including quinquennial surveys and condition reports through to the design and specification of repairs and new works.  Everything is carried out with our trademark care and attention – with experience in the conservation of timber, stone, brick, lime mortars and renders, straw and earth-building.  Our interests are extended through our membership of the Carpenters’ Fellowship, the Building Limes Forum and Earth Building UK & Ireland.

Repair & Retro-Fit

Britain has an impressive building stock, but the task for repairing and retro-fitting dwellings for the 21st century challenge of climate change is vast and difficult.  This is even more so when considering the need to ensure that historic structures, built in breathable and flexible materials, are not compromised by inappropriate modern insulations and finishes which can lead to severe condensation, damp and decay.  Our work in these contexts is based firmly on our understanding of conservation and tradition, responding sympathetically to the existing building while ensuring their upgrade leads to comfortable and beautiful homes.


Quinquennial Inspections

Places of worship under the Care of Churches Measure are obliged to carry out a full fabric inspection every five years.  We carry out these quinquennial surveys on several churches, with a full and thorough examination and recommendations on all parts of the fabric of the building.  As an integral part of our conservation portfolio, we bring to bear our trademark care and attention to detail on all the sacred buildings in our care.

Church Repair & Embellishment

The repair and embellishment of churches, including design of furniture, is one of our passions.  As church-goers ourselves, we understand the need to balance the conservation of significant historic fabric with the requirements of a living church and congregation.  Properly done, the beautiful and meaningful fabric can itself become part of the ongoing mission of the Church, and it is in this spirit that we undertake our work to these very special places.  We also carry out regular casework on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.


Village Halls

Village halls are a vital link in many urban and rural communities, providing important resources and spaces to allow people to thrive.  As expressions of social context, such places reflect and embody a wider understanding of landscape and meaning, which we endeavour always to conserve and promote in their repair and new design.  Works include straightforward repair, extensions and alterations, together with adjustments for accessibility and energy-saving measures.


Manifest have been involved in several projects to provide educational settings for charitable foundations involved in sustainable energy production and local woodlands.  We delight in the small scale of these projects, allowing us fully to engage with our clients and their concerns to use local, natural materials as an embodiment of their values.  Such work with other bodies allows us to reflect more fully on our own education and research work too, completing the circle.

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Manifest Design Workshop Ltd is a company limited by shares, registered in England & Wales, no.10067883

Registered address 13 Ridley Road, Oxford OX4 2QJ