One of the key names behind the Chelsea Barracks development, Squire & Partners, has more than three decades of experience in residential architecture
For London residents and even those further afield with an interest in architecture, the unfolding story of the Chelsea Barracks development has provided plenty of column inches of gossip-fuelled coverage. One of the main players, and hopefully one of the heroes of the saga, is Squire & Partners, part of the winning team that recently secured planning permission for the site.
Thankfully distanced from most of the controversy, Squire & Partners has been appointed to design the interior architecture of the scheme, which is thought to include 448 houses and flats (including 123 affordable homes), a sports centre and retail outlets.
The practice has been doing residential work for more than three decades now and this was the initial source of commissions for the founding partner, Michael Squire, when he started the practice in 1976. The practice team now numbers around 140 and there are five senior partners, including Michael and his son, Henry Squire.
Squire & Partners’ experience now extends beyond residential work and stretches much further afield than Westminster. Architects are divided into teams allocated to work on a variety of projects, ensuring they have experience of all kinds of design, with residential remaining a key aspect of its portfolio. In terms of residential, the work ranges from affordable housing to luxury property developments, including such high-profile projects as The Knightsbridge.
‘We have slowly built up our portfolio,’ says Henry Squire. ‘Projects such as Brook House on Park Lane [a £20m project completed in 1998], helped to really develop our understanding of high-end interiors and was one of the forerunners of the big, high-profile residential projects that are so prevalent in London today.’ Much of Squire & Partners’ residential work is commissioned by property investors and developers but the practice also takes on private clients. The partners are also currently considering opening a specialist interiors division within the practice. Squire & Partners has won awards for a wide range of projects, proving its reputation as a first-class architectural all-rounder.
‘As a practice we pride ourselves on being good listeners,’ explains Henry Squire. ‘We’re very open minded and we try to engage as fully as possible with our clients.’ Squire senior also describes their approach as ‘collaborative rather than autocratic’. He has remained determined to ‘maintain [our] early vitality and to create an environment in which the second generation can build on — and exceed — the achievements of the first’.
His son is also modest, much preferring to talk about his work rather than his qualities as an architect. ‘I don’t think of myself as a specialist and I feel we don’t have a stylistic philosophy,’ he says. ‘We always try to look at the local culture and give it a contemporary interpretation. Our design is all about space and location.’
This article was first published in idfx Magazine.