What we do
Find out about the services we offer and how can help you with your project.
We are qualified and chartered architects and PassivHaus consultants, and architectural design lies at the heart of our practice. We are able to undertake the full range of architectural services, from feasibility studies and measured surveys, through planning applications and statements, full detailed design and tender to contract administration for works on site. In everything we do, an attention to detail, a fully professional service and a warm, personal manner are our hallmarks.
Our work in architecture covers a range of specialisms, with particular experience in domestic work, community projects and ecclesiastical design. Our approach seeks fully to understand the context – building, landscape and community – and make this manifest in designs which work subtly and effortlessly to enhance the place in which they find themselves: in this, our understanding of conservation and traditional construction is paramount, reflected in our specialisms in natural building methods and PassivHaus standards.
We are highly experienced in the conservation of historic buildings – and the knowledge we gain through their repair and re-use complements our natural building approach to new-build projects. Hugh Conway Morris is registered with Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC), and completed the prestigious SPAB Lethaby Scholarship in 2009, while Peter Preston holds an MSc in Timber Building Conservation from the Weald & Downland Museum and the University of York. Both Hugh and Peter are committed members 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 – through conservative repair and creative renovation. We are able to offer an impressive range of services, including quinquennial surveys, condition reports, fabric inspections and specialist timber-frame surveys. We undertake design and specification of repairs and new works with our trademark care and attention – with experience in the conservation of timber, stone, brick, lime mortars and renders, earth-building and ironwork. Our interests are extended through our membership of the Carpenters’ Fellowship, the Building Limes Forum and the National Heritage Ironwork Group.
Our experience in natural building methods and materials allows us to design effectively for sensitive extensions to historic buildings, with careful design and detailing to work with the anatomy of ancient structures, and avoid the risk of future harm, while producing new work which blends seamlessly with the old. As the case for retention and retro-fitting of existing housing and building stock becomes clearer, in terms of embodied energy and carbon emissions, we find our experience in historic conservation and PassivHaus technologies becomes ever more relevant to all manner of work on existing buildings.
Our ecclesiastical work is generally on historic church buildings: while this is an integral part of our conservation portfolio, ecclesiastical projects bring their own specific demands and requirements, including the preparation of Quinquennial Inspections as required by the relevant Diocese, together with works in conservation and extension of sensitive historic buildings.
As church-goers ourselves, we understand the need to balance the conservation of significant historic fabric with the needs 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. Hugh carries out regular casework on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, while Peter is a member of the Ecclesiastical Architects & Surveyors Association (EASA), and serves on the Baptist Union Listed Buildings Advisory Committee.
Oak Framing, Furniture & Woodcarving
It may be unusual to find architects who also make and build, as well as design, but this doubled activity lies at the heart of our philosophy. Hugh Conway Morris trained under carpenters and architects of the Kós Károly Association in Hungary and Transylvania (Romania), then returned to England to work for Peter McCurdy in the English scribed oak-framing tradition. He is a member of the Carpenters’ Fellowship, most recently working with their experts on the House of Wessex project at the Sylva Foundation.
Our work as builders and carpenters comprehensively informs our design work, in the practical understanding of material, and an appreciation of their true potential and their most appropriate uses and weathering patterns.
We specialise in particular in timber-framing, which we can carry out in oak, sweet chestnut or a range of softwoods. Our work with timber extends to the repair of historic frames and the construction of new – and we are of course also able to design and specify for these projects. We have carried out projects to install wood-fibre board and sheepswool insulation, together with roofing work, and we have experience in straw bale and cob (earth) construction. Where we do not have the requisite skills in-house, we are always eager to engage with specialist thatchers, plasterers, roofers and masons, to ensure a very high quality of material and finish, and our work embodies the principles of natural building wherever possible.
Our workshop also produces furniture pieces to our design – whether that be built-in library bookshelves, stand-alone tables or fine carved work. We hold a stock of local timbers, and we can use and process special individual trees of your choosing for your project, as part of our Local Materials Initiative (see below). We even design and build treehouses.
Local Materials Initiative
As the world wakes up to the dangers and realities of climate change, our focus is shifting to the reduction of carbon emissions and the efficient use of resources. We believe this is not merely a negative reaction to the disadvantages of an unpredictable climate, but more a positive opportunity to invest in local communities and networks. The ability to use and process local materials for building is one of our most exciting ventures – and embodies our philosophy of architecture which itself grows from its surrounding landscape.
We have extensive contacts with local woodlands supplying oak, sweet chestnut and a range of softwoods. Clients have also asked us for bespoke timbers, or to turn much-loved special trees which had to be felled into furniture, or even buildings. Manifest are now engaged in the Grey Chalk Project with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in which we have set up kilns to burn chalk, producing a feebly hydraulic lime suitable for use in historic contexts – and produced entirely from local materials. Click here for some of the projects we have completed under this initiative.
Any site will have access to a large range of materials – earth, stone, thatch, bales, timber. Let us do the research to let your building become truly local!