Community, Education, Projects

Tulse Hill APG-Outdoor Classroom

Variant Office were commissioned to develop an outdoor classroom for Tulse Hill APG to improve the offer within the APG for the users and as a potential lettable space to local schools.

Community, Education, Projects

Marcus Lipton Youth Centre Refurbishment

Variant Office developed a brief with Marcus Lipton Youth Centre in Loughborough Junction
to release space for rental opportunities and more productive use, so that MLYC could become
financially self-sufficient. VO identified objectives to reorganise the existing spaces with
minimal intervention, proposing a number of deep storage areas to free up space for other uses.

We developed a draft cost plan to enable MLYC to identify which works would prove the most valuable,
and worked as part of a group with Public Works, Loughborough Junction Action Group, and the neighbouring
Grove Adventure Playground, to develop an overall strategy for the two sites.

Community, Education, Projects

Calthorpe Under 5s space

Variant office was commissioned to develop a play strategy for Calthorpe Community Gardens under 5 space. Whilst the space available is reasonable it suffers from a lack of master planning resulting ad-hoc additions and under-used areas within the site.
We proposed a strategy that maximised the free space by developing a series of interventions around the perimeter of the site, enlarging the canopy to improve the play offer in inclement weather and moving the ramp to minimise space lost to circulation.
The project is currently being crowd funded via Spacehive

Community, Cultural, Projects

Sevenoaks Wetland Centre

ur proposal for a new Nature and Wellbeing Centre in Sevenoaks embraces a majestic oak tree,
which stands in a clearing signalling the gateway into the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
The surrounding landscape is ‘lifted up’ forming a large protective canopy over a number of
activity spaces below and a continued habitat for flora and fauna above.

This “Archipelago” of spaces references the masterplan connecting the existing collection
of islands in the West Lake with the proposed islands in the East Lake.

Community, Cultural, Masterplanning, Projects, Public Realm

Loughborough Junction Affordable workshops

The proposal for Loughborough Junction Affordable workshops aimed to create a mixed-use affordable workspace for local makers in the thriving centre of Loughborough Junction. The existing site though designated as a Key Industrial and Business area had remained derelict for many years. In the meantime, a local community group had brought the site back into productivity as an urban farm.
The workspaces were to be of a variety of scales, ranging from small desk based coworking spaces to two larger anchor units that housed a CNC Mill and a series of kitchens for use by local businesses. The challenge was to develop a strategy that integrated the existing Loughborough Farm within a thriving works space community.
To keep within the tight budget we proposed a series of low-cost modular units and furniture that could be manufactured on site within the CNC mill. We designed the modular system to be simple enough to be built by lay people and proposed a methodology whereby the units could be built by potential users in exchange for rent rebates over the course of their tenancy.
Variant Office in collaboration with Erect Architecture were placed 2nd in this competition.

Art, Community, Cultural, Projects

Lovers’ Telephone

Lovers’ Telephone was devised in collaboration with Brixton Community Base & Sixteen Feet Productions as part of Brixton Design Trail 2017.
The Lovers’ telephone is a multi-sensory installation occupying the stairway of Brixton Community Base. Visitors will be encouraged to engage by listening and sharing oral histories of Brixton. The tubular cloud was installed in the stairway creating opportunities to engage with the recordings in a spatial and collective way. Some will house looped audio recordings featuring accounts of Brixtonian’s from the Windrush Generation (part of the ‘Vintage Voices’ project by Sixteenfeet Productions), and others encouraged you to tell your own story of Brixton.

Community, Cultural, Education, Projects

Under the Canopy

“Under the Canopy” is our proposal for the Woodlands Trust Competition
“Under the Canopy” is rooted in the instinct of a farmer building a barn or a soldier making camp: to raise a roof and take cover underneath. It begins with a broad truss of interlocking timbers, raised on wooden columns. Under this roof, the main room is an open space that gives onto the landscape.
It is entirely flexible, surrounded by doors and shutters that be closed shut or thrown open depending on the weather and the many differing needs of the visitors. To the fourth side is a private, insulated block containing office, kitchen and toilets.
The end grains of the timbers in the truss can be painted in memoriam. When interlinked to create the joint, they act an evocation of the strong bonds forged during the war, as well as dappling the sunlight passing through in an echo of a forest canopy.
The straightforward panelised system lends itself to organic growth as needs require and funds allow, so that the building can expand and the rooms within be transformed or upgraded. Much as generations of farmers changed and repaired their buildings, these spaces will thrive with the forest.

Community, Projects, Residential

New Homes for Neighbourhoods I

Architecture Design : Variant Office and Erect Architecture

Location : Natal Road, Brighton, UK
Client : Brighton + Hove City Council

Sector : Residential
Area :  100 sqm
Status: Competition

Brighton and Hove City Council organised a competition to regenerate small pockets of leftover space throughout the city. Variant Office, in collaboration with Erect Architecture, proposed this design for an unused piece of land on a steep slope between two existing houses.


To make this a place for a family home, we propose a design carefully moulded to its context. Starting with a minimal rectangular volume following the line of the garage next door, we push and pull the planes of the façade and roof to take account of the complex conditions.

At the ground floor, this sculpting creates a sheltered entrance porch; at the first floor it reveals a Juliet balcony that respects the neighbour’s views. To the rear, the first floor pop-out echoes the recess in the front, while above the half-landing the roof drops and brings light in from above.

The proposed house is brick clad, consistent with the material of its neighbours. Its materiality relates to the adjacent garages and ties the new house visually into the existing context. The recesses to the façade create a lively sculptural rhythm.

This is a generous family home with four-bedrooms, fully accessible to Lifetime standards. Entry is to the west, through a hallway which leads straight to a large living/ kitchen/ dining area, which opens directly to the garden. The stair sits visible at the side of this living space and leads to a more private second family room, which overlooks the double-height space below. The bedrooms upstairs are arranged with views both front and back.

See more of our residential work in our residential section

Community, Projects, Residential

New Homes for Neighbourhoods II

Architecture Design : Variant Office and Erect Architecture

Location : Brighton, UK
Client : Brighton + Hove City Council

Sector : Residential
Area :  375 sqm
Status: Competition

Brighton and Hove City Council organised a competition to regenerate small pockets of leftover space throughout the city. Variant Office, in collaboration with Erect Architecture, proposed this scheme for an unused site hidden behind a ring of semi-detached houses: it is an urban mews in a suburban neighbourhood.

A key feature of the Rotherfield Crescent site is that the project could not disrupt access to the lock-up garages on the edge of the leftover space. For this reason, the proposed scheme consists of four terraced houses pulled to the south of the site to minimise overshadowing the neighbours. This strategy leaves the entire perimeter free, and creates two outdoor places: one behind the houses, which is divided into terraced private gardens that soak in afternoon sunshine, and one in front of the houses, which becomes a shared courtyard for all of the neighbours.

There are three three-bedroom houses and one two-bedroom house, all fully designed to Lifetime Homes standard, and all either dual- or triple- aspect. Each house plan responds to its particular condition, but they all echo the same spatial ideas. In every case, a double-height space is provided overlooking a generous living/dining area.

To minimise visual impact the roofs are flat, but the angled ceiling above the stair echoes the pitched roofs of the neighbouring houses, and articulates the façade. The building fabric is brick, in keeping with the historical precedent of the area.

See more of our residential work in our residential section


Community, Projects

Misty Mountain Kindergarten

Location : Molewa, Ruichang, China
Client : Hua Yan Group
Area : N/A
Status: Competition

The Misty Mountain is a kindergarten in a city. The built area is large and the plot ratio high for a kindergarten: we must allow for 4000sqm plus parking. On an acutely-angled site with on-grade parking, this became particularly challenging. Thus, we determined our key design challenges to be threefold:
one, create a dense building which still retains a sense of low scale;
two, ensure engagement with the city while keeping the children private and secure;
three, allow for strong internal-external links, with each classroom having access to its own terrace,
four, provide a sunny playground of sufficient scale.