London-based practice EBBA Architects is FX's latest One to Watch
Words by Sophie Tolhurst
EBBA Architects is a London-based architectural practice led by British/Spanish architect and educator Benni Allan. In the short period since its founding, the ambitious practice has delivered work spanning architecture, interiors, temporary installations and product design across arts, cultural, retail, education and residential sectors.
EBBA is currently working on a construction skills school in London’s Olympic Park, the interpretation plan for the renovation of St John’s Church in Hackney, a multi-unit housing scheme, several residential projects, and a community-led regeneration project to reimagine a disused viaduct.
Through its work, EBBA hopes to build ‘a narrative that reinforces the social, cultural and material aspects of a given place’.
The team’s processes are hands-on and investigative, establishing a careful understanding of a place and the needs of its users, as well as working closely with artists and fabricators to explore construction techniques, materials, proportions and form.
An early project is La Falda – the renovation of Allen’s former primary school in Alicante, Spain, done to a tight budget of £1,000 – which exemplifies EBBA’s ability to work creatively to produce impressive outcomes from limited resources.
Image Credit: A.Dipierro
A first floor extension to a preschool housed in an 1870s hospital gatehouse draws on EBBA’s ideas around reuse for education, using low-tech sustainable strategies and simple materials. Its design references the pitched roofs of local buildings, and appears tent-like for the kids to relate to. The banding of the exterior imitates the existing brick detailing, with an ambition ‘to express an understanding of modern buildings being made of layers,’ says Allan.
2. Beyond Fashion exhibition
Having previously created set design and scenography for fashion clients Erdem, Ports 1961 and Topman Design, EBBA was invited to design a show on contemporary fashion photography in Hong Kong. Steam-bent timber walls were treated with a thick ‘orange peel’ paint in a method used to create stucco plasterwork over centuries in Asia. The studio spent months working with local craftspeople developing the process.
3. Flat Time House
Taking inspiration from the works of Flat Time House’s founder John Latham, EBBA’s new artist studio and archive for this south London gallery was designed as ‘a series of abstracted and sympathetic revisions’ – interventions or ‘attachments’ that respond to the existing state of the gallery, but allow users to interact with the space in new ways, respecting its materiality and ‘building on the importance of the house as an artwork’.