One to Watch is Matter Architecture, founded by Architects Roland Karthaus and Jonathan McDowell in 2016 to bring together their individual wealth of experiences in and knowledge of the built environment
Directors Roland Karthaus and Jonathan McDowell are both qualified architects, with Karthaus holding a master’s degree in regeneration.
Setting up Matter Architecture in 2016 they say: ‘Although we’re a new architecture practice, we have a great wealth of experience across a range of different projects within the built environment. We design buildings and places for the long term, which we hope are uplifting and relevant to their areas and the people that use them.’
Housing for the elderly, Ealing: Having been given the opportunity to redevelop an existing estate for an almshouse charity, the practice designed 140 new high-quality homes for older people, with the majority at affordable rents, thanks to GLA funding. ‘Our design cultivates social interactions in, on and throughout the buildings,’ say Karthaus and McDowell.
Both previously ran practices and completed many award-winning projects, including buildings, competition work and research projects. The practice is currently working on a housing scheme for the elderly in west London, which is shortlisted in the London Construction Awards and has been awarded GLA funding.
In 2016, Matter architecture was awarded a RIBA Research Trust grant to develop research into prisons as places for wellbeing and rehabilitation.
250 Tottenham Court road, London: This saw the conversion of a retail building into office space, now fully let to tech and media companies. Karthaus and McDowell explain: ‘We created a bespoke steel and timber structure... wrapping around a double-height space to form a continuous and dramatic artwork for the building’s entrance.’
Karthaus and McDowell has worked together in different capacities for many years. Until recently, Karthaus was working as a commissioning client, as well as teaching and researching at the University of East London, while McDowell ran architecture practice McDowell+Benedetti.
‘Sharing a belief in what makes good architecture and the processes needed to create it, we decided to form Matter Architecture to bring together our diverse range of experiences and use them to deliver great buildings and studies,’ they say. The practice’s first commission came from Lambeth Council to design a nursery building on Clapham Common, to provide SeN services to children and their families, as well as engaging them with the wildlife of the Common.
Princes Quay Bridge, Hull: ‘Working with Arup we have designed a new pedestrian bridge and large public space in city centre. It is scheduled to start construction once the 2017 City of Culture celebrations are over.’ It will be the second bridge for Hull, with McDowell previously responsible for the award-winning Scale Lane Bridge.
‘The site is in Metropolitan Open Land, which has the strongest possible planning protection and, therefore, presented a significant challenge,’ say Karthaus and McDowell. ‘We designed a cross-laminated timber structure that will open up views of the park for the occupants and make the most of the filtered sunlight through the trees, creating a stimulating environment in which to play and learn.’ Having been given planning permission, the project is scheduled for completion in 2018.