About

Cowper Griffith Architects is an award winning RIBA Chartered Practice, based in Whittlesford just south of Cambridge.

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The Practice

The practice was formed in 1980 by Chris Cowper, James Griffith joining in 1985 and Tim Powter-Robinson in 2000. James retired from the Partnership in 2012, with Simon Redman and Adrian Small becoming partners in the same year. Karen Lim joined as an Associate in 2005 and became a partner in 2018. She is an ‘Architect Accredited in Building Conservation’ specialising in the restoration of listed buildings. The practice varies in size from 15 to 20 staff, depending upon workload.

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Our Approach

All of our projects have a common approach to their design, reflecting a desire to achieve honesty in their composition and use of materials, as well as to add to the wider environment in an unselfconscious way. 

Our buildings are always meticulously realised, though this need not mean a visual complexity. We celebrate the innate qualities of materials and give great thought to the manner in which they are connected, and finished.

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Collaboration

CGA has developed a firm belief in the essential need for teamwork, and builds a strong relationship with both clients and other related practitioners.

The practice has a comprehensive list of leading consultants, academics, contractors and craftsmen, who can be relied upon to work collaboratively, to achieve enduring and imaginative design solutions and workmanship of the highest quality.

 
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Context

We relish the opportunity to work within historic settings, either by restoring existing buildings or introducing new structures. Every project is different, but we always seek to tap into what is special about a place or a space, and to add to a pre-existing narrative rather than jarring difference for its’ own sake.

This sometimes means extensive historical and archaeological analysis and recording, often working with specialists in the field. We often draw on historic, vernacular forms and materials, but combine them with contemporary space and placemaking.

We believe in enduring buildings with a long design life, capable of making a positive contribution to their setting for many generations.

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Placemaking

‘The spaces between’ are crucial to the success or failure of a scheme. We give great thought to the hard and soft landscaping, and how planting changes through the seasons and indeed how this planting combines with and compliments our forms, textures and materials.

We rely on highly talented Landscape Architects to bind our buildings together and enjoy collaborating with them to ensure continuity and coordination.

Where an opportunity exists we create positive enhancements to the public realm, promoting dwell time by careful consideration of view, scale, orientation, finishes, seating, lighting and planting. Good, thoughtful design creates vibrant and vital places.

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Environment

We encourage a holistic approach both to social and technical sustainability in all of our projects.

Schemes should be conceived and designed to respond to existing settlements and infrastructure, and to their site’s fundamental characteristics. A proper response to considered ‘site analysis’ usually results in a robust underlying concept. Buildings’ construction and usage post completion should aspire to carbon neutrality.

We work with leading environmental engineers to design low energy systems and we take great care in the specification and sourcing of materials and component parts, trying wherever possible to limit the embodied energy in a structure.