Best Made Plans


So COVID came along and as a proportion of our work is in residential care a lot stopped. But we didn’t and slowly things are returning to a new normal and despite an uncertain future new opportunities are already presenting themselves.



Take 5 at 40


OWL Architects is 40 and OWLA 5 this year.  Five projects for the year will include a community building (10 years in inception), a clutch of interesting residential projects, a church reordering (8 years in the making) and the design stage of a new care scheme in Hastings. And of course, MEH (pictured) should complete.





OWLA’s directors took a much anticipated trip to Japan in September 2019. Whilst Tokyo and Osaka do not fail to deliver the full-on metropolitan experience, Kyoto delivers a more traditional one with the notable exception of Hiroshi Hara’s train station.





This is a big hole; perhaps the largest we have dug?  The underlying geology is chalk meaning it is inherently stable though a good deal of temporary works were necessary to safely create and consolidate it. We now plan to fill it in.



Awards Night



OWLA received a design commendation for their work on the new CHALLS building in Hadleigh. The award was presented by RIBA Suffolk and the presentation involved a short film including aerial views of the completed building.


Click here to view in high resolution (on Vimeo website). 



All Soaned Out

OWLA are delighted to be involved with one of the few classical buildings attributable to Sir John Soane in Suffolk. The Music Room (originally) an Orangery within the grounds of Earsham Hall has been undergoing conservation for some years and the final phase in conjunction with conversion of nearby workshops is now moving forward.




In October 2017 OWLA’s presence was finally felt north of the Arctic circle given the practice’s sponsorship of a charity expedition to a volcano located in the northern polar regions.



Block Buster


OWLA’s second building for Challs International was opened in August 2017 with a launch party involving several hundred guests, television cameras and the presence of the Hadleigh Mayor and MP James Cartlidge. The building is a new headquarters and production facility for the company following the dramatic fire in 2015 that destroyed its administrative base. The opening accompanied the news that they are now the UK’s no.1 supplier of domestic cleaning products.





OWLA moved to new freehold premises in Bungay in spring 2017. The Business Centre in Staithe Road has a large studio space arranged over open plan meeting and administrative accommodation at ground level. The move means the practice is better placed between Norwich, Ipswich and the Heritage Coast and both follows the transition from partnership to company status in 2015 and reflects a new company direction.



A 1st


Further to a recommendation for refusal, OWLA were able to gain unanimous consent at committee for a new live / work unit in the countryside. Planning policy both regionally and nationally severely restricts development outside of settlements and whilst consents for similar proposals have been successful in urban areas but no such precedent existed for areas of designated countryside. Until now!



Regency Regeneration


After nearly 18 months inception, proposals to transform Mount Ephraim House were recently submitted for planning consent.  A prominent site overlooking the common in Royal Tunbridge Wells the scheme seeks to renovate the original 1840’s house and replace later outbuildings with a contemporary care facility to accommodate some 60 residents.



Delicate Treatment


Works to renovate and improve a substantial Grade II listed house in Norfolk received Listed Building Consent towards the end of 2015.  The Old House dates to 1727 and has an interesting redbrick facade with a series of butterfly pitched roofs set behind a tall parapet accommodating some 40 rooms in all.  The proposals include both sympathetic additions and removal of some later extensions in order to achieve a comfortable family home.




Like a Phoenix 


from the ashes.  Sadly, Challs International’s main office and warehouse in Hadleigh was largely destroyed by fire in late 2014.  Having recently undertaken design work on another site for them OWLA and others were invited to prepare proposals for a much grander building in its place.  This was consented in mid 2015 and should commence on site towards the end of the year.




Accidents Can Happen



All clients should now be aware that CDM applies to them even if they are a domestic client.  Whilst the role of CDM coordinator is gone the responsibility for Health and Safety Management is now shared between Client, Principal Designer and Contractor.  The new Regulations also impose a requirement to maintain a Health and Safety File throughout the life of a project.



All Change!


Many changes for OWLA in 2015.  Stuart Offord RIBA retires as a partner but continues to act as a consultant, primarily on historic work.  Daniel Paris joins us as a Revit proficient architectural technician and the practice becomes a Limited Company.  Phew.





Our first building regulations submission in the Highlands and Islands!  Having been advised ‘they do things a little differently up there’ we are happy to report they were helpful if at times a little difficult to understand.

 Orkney project by OWL Architects, Suffolk




OWL Architects continue to host regular CPD events in our Lowestoft office. Members of Waveney District Council and other local consultants often attend with a view to broadening their knowledge of current methods and products whilst enjoying a free lunch.

 CPD Events at OWL Architects, Suffolk


Work Experience


OWL Architects recently provided a placement for a Year 9 student from a local school. A series of tasks were arranged designed to give him an insight into what an Architect does and what it is like to work in a real office environment. Having developed a scheme of his own he was shown how to use 3-d software to create a photo-realistic model of his design.

Work Experience student at OWL Architects, Suffolk 


Borovere House


Our scheme to expand a residential home in Hampshire met with strong resistance from neighbours and the planning department alike. Over the course of two years we lost every battle but, finally in February 2014, we won the war with a smaller if arguably better scheme.

Extension Approval - OWL Architects, Suffolk 


The Conservator


Stuart Offord achieved a new RIBA accreditation in May reflecting many years working with historic buildings locally.  The title, Conservation Registrant, signifies an expertise in the repair, alteration and refurbishment of locally important historic buildings such as the restoration of St John the Baptist church in Shadingfield, opposite.

St John the Baptist church in Shadingfield

RIBA Design Awards


OWL Architects won the RIBA Suffolk Design Awards 2013 for their work on the Alpha Centre, a special needs contact centre in Gorleston, Norfolk.  The prize was awarded by Pippa Jacob and John Norman at this years SJCC dinner at Trinity Park in Ipswich.

RIBA Design Award - OWL Architects Ipswich 



RIBA Suffolk’s Design Review Panel is now well established and is running a series of panels over the coming months.  As a requirement of the NPPF local authorities have an obligation to use design review as a constructive means of improving design quality.  OWL Partner, Simon Smeaton is a panel member and contributed to the June panel’s appraisal of a listed building and community project.

RIBA Suffolk’s Design Review Panel Logo - SDRP 

A Shining Example


The first phase of the Alpha Centre for disabled charity SHINE is due to complete in December this year and should be fully complete by spring 2013.  As the existing building must remain operational throughout the works there has been plenty of opportunity to share time with some of Shine’s staff and visitors.  Here Stuart explains what all the fuss is about.

 ALPHA Centre due to complete soon
  Architecture Week


This summer saw the return of national Architecture Week, an event sponsored by the RIBA with events up and down the country and even a sand castle competition in Bury. OWL undertook a workshop at Southwold Primary School on the theme of sustainability. The pupils were invited to make a model street with houses that incorporated energy saving measures. Each house was accompanied by an EPC Certificate indicating how efficient it would actually be. This was a full on afternoon!

Architecture Week 

St Michaels Rising From the Ashes


Following an unfortunate fire at St Michael’s Church in Upper Orwell Street Ipswich in 2011 OWL has been involved with proposals to create a new community facility on the site.  JIMAS, a charitable Islamic organisation seeks to create a multi-cultural facility for the benefit of the whole community on what is a prominent site.

St Michael rising from the Ashes 

OWL Architects celebrates its 150th birthday


OWL Architects will soon be marking its 150th birthday with a series of celebratory events.

The practice can trace its presence in Suffolk back to the 1860s and over the years has assumed many different guises and formations; most recently that of Tayler and Green – the current practice accepting a Housing Design Award in 2011 in recognition of its work.

It is hoped that friends, clients and colleagues will come together to make merry in honour of this occasion.

 OWL Architects, Ipswich, Suffolk, celebrating its 150th birthday

Bungay New Community Centre Planning Permission approved


Planning consent was recently granted for a Ł2 million Community Enterprise Building in Bungay. Following a detailed design and business viability study undertaken in conjunction with Coin Street Community Builders, proposals were submitted to Waveney District Council in August 2011. The new centre will replace the town’s existing community hall which is in very poor condition.


Read more about this article in the Beccles and Bungay Journal 28.10.2011 or visit the Community Project pages.


Owl Architects - News Article - Bungay Community Centre 

SCDC Quality of Place Awards


Simon Smeaton of OWL Architects was asked to be a judge for the QP Awards for a second year running and presented a prize under the design category to Hoo House in Woodbridge. Last year the Dovecote at Snape Maltings was awarded a similar accolade.




The Company Yacht


The company yacht enjoyed another season's successful sailing. High points included a tense but exhilarating outing with Mike Foley of the Energy Practice in winds gusting to Force 7, sufficient to rip out recently installed reefing points!




Lavenham School


OWL recently commenced work on their third education project for Suffolk County Council under its Property Consultancy Framework in conjunction with JSH and J P Chick consulting engineers. The project is for a new nursery block addition to a Victorian school that retains much of its original character.