One to Watch is Envelope Architects, with husband-and-wife team Graham and Suzie Brown describing themselves as ‘innovators; visionary, envelopment consultants’ and offering striking and unique structures
Words by Emily MartinWho
Envelope Architects was founded in 2014 by husband-and-wife team Graham and Suzie Brown. Architect Graham Brown has more than 30 years of experience having worked (and helping to win awards) for various practices including Bisset Adams, ArchitecturePLB and Dyer. He describes himself as being the ‘key concept shaper for Envelope’s architectural outlay’ with an ability to ‘approach a brief that can deliver previously unimagined outcomes for all stakeholders’.
Graham and Suzie Brown
Fellow director Suzie Brown has experience in textile design illustration, fashion and theatre production, and was the mastermind behind the Urban Bird brand and pop-up design shops, which saw the work of up to 30 design-makers and design brands, appear on the high street. ‘Suzie’s talents lie in her nose for trends and her research abilities,’ says Brown. ‘[This] enables discussion…for the practices, blog posts, and social media accounts. Suzie also participates in decision-making on design details.’
Bloom: The practice helped produce a terraced housing scheme to celebrate ‘sculptural living’. Designed for a Nottingham development by Igloo the scheme gives a nod to Paul Smith’s tailoring (he was born there) and the lace industry. ‘We added sculptural plates to the front...to celebrate individualism and get closer to the aim of producing lower cost mass-produced buildings with infinite customisation potential,’ says Brown
He describes their partnership as being forward-thinking and one that employs colour, material science and new technology into the practice’s design work, while approaching challenging contexts with inventive results. ‘We design for the future. We are innovators; visionary, envelopment consultants,’ he says.
Resilient Hybrid Buildings: Comprising The Pod, The Perch (above) and The Pad, these compact lodges make up a range of ‘goanywhere and weather-resilient building stock’, Brown says. ‘We took delight in redefining the norm and set our sights on overhauling the most popular choice of living – the dreary detached three-bed rabbit hutch churned out by volume house builders’
The practice started out with an intention to build a series of strikingly different villas throughout Devon and Cornwall for the shortlet holiday sector. ‘We purchased a steep site sloping down to the River Camel, which posed significant technical challenges,’ says Brown.
Land Cruises & Hyper-living: This explores the idea of utilising shipping containers as serviced apartments in Dubai. Customised sea containers would travel through the desert while oases, placed at three-hour intervals along the route, are also produced. ‘These microflats could unclip off the travel system and be placed on floating platforms, or stacked for a longer term stay,’ says Brown
‘[I] felt that there was a niche for producing stunning architecture on sites with challenging topography.’ An idea emerged for a small hospitality-pod design that would ‘give the log cabin a run for its money’ and to fabricate a building that would go on tour to various shows, including the London Design Festival.
The concept for ‘The Pod’ has gained commercial interest, with the majority of the materials needed to build it already being gifted. ‘It is likely that we will crowd-fund the remaining money required to realise the project,’ says Brown. After The Pod came The Perch and The Pad, other future-focused lodge concepts designed for locations including extreme trekking terrains and even a floating town. ‘Envelope Architects is aiming to generate a rereading of the classics of the past, all in parametric and futuristic language,’ says Brown. ‘We would love to get involved with government think-tanks and help shape the future in how emerging technologies can produce stunning results.’