One to Watch: McCloy + Muchemwa

Design and architecture studio McCloy + Muchemwa (McMu)

Words by Sophie Tolhurst


McCloy + Muchemwa (McMu) is the design and architecture studio of Steve McCloy and Bongani Muchemwa, a pair of Londonbased architects with roots in Africa. The pair are interested in inventive exploration into design thinking, and the studio was initially set up to deliver small installations and industrial design projects while working full time elsewhere – in architectural practice, academia and writing. McMu has since enjoyed success and creative freedom through competitions and exhibitions, and the pair are ‘keen collaborators’, looking ‘to tackle all manner of public projects… and preconceptions.’


McMu believes that each project should be as bespoke as it is innovative, and while undoubtedly playful and experimental, the studio’s work is underwritten by a commitment to affordability, accessibility of ideas and a prioritisation of the social value of architecture and design. Carrying the same intensity of vision from small projects to those within larger multidisciplinary teams, McMu, the studio explains, is ‘dreaming quite a lot bigger than their modest portfolio of built work seems to demonstrate.’


A Bench for Everyone

McMu’s first realised public project in London was installed for the London Festival of Architecture in 2018. The bright yellow undulating bench, providing perches for single people and groups alike, is over 5m long and was completed on a very tight budget. There were aspirations to expand the project, imagining it at an infrastructural scale: a furniture system ‘winding its way around the city centre’.

Police Box – Dynamic Duo

Police Box – Dynamic Duo. Image Credit: MCCLOY + MUCHEMWA
Police Box – Dynamic Duo. Image Credit: MCCLOY + MUCHEMWA

McMu’s entry for a City of London Police competition, which reached the final stage, features a ‘duo’ of structures inspired by police officers walking the beat in pairs, ‘the two supporting each other to create a more effective unit’. The design creates shelter and public space around it, providing a place for community engagement and events alongside interactive digital technology embedded in the structure, while low-maintenance elevated gardens sit atop the boxes. The design uses 100% post-tensioned natural stone and has a whole life-cycle sustainability strategy.

Bamboo Urban Mini Velo

Bamboo Urban Mini Velo. Image Credit: SOPHIE PERCIVAL
Bamboo Urban Mini Velo. Image Credit: SOPHIE PERCIVAL

This ‘opportunistic’ lockdown collaboration with Bamboo Bicycle Club uses bio-composite materials and engineering for a durable, lightweight bike, and also introduces unusual details such as a central cargo compartment, designed to fit an A3 portfolio, and ‘cheeky’ zoomorphic integrated lights on stalks. The bike can be ordered as a home-build kit or assembled at a Bamboo Bicycle Club workshop.

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