Far from comfortable.

Following the departure of my two fellow directors in 2017 and the shredding of 1 tonne of old files and drawings from previous years, I was left all alone rattling around in a large 1000 sq/ft office space in the leafy green, purpose built Span village of New Ash Green, Kent.

This type of 1970s building may have been innovative for its time but our offices, sitting over garages on the ground floor, were devoid of any decent insulation and heated by temperamental storage heaters with huge north facing single glazed windows running along its entire elevation. On average we had about 3 weeks every year where the temperatures inside the office were conducive to a pleasant working environment. The rest of the year was spent working in shorts surrounded by fans in the summer months or working in hats, scarves and gloves surrounded by heaters in winter.

The enforced departure.

Therefore, I couldn’t have been happier when I received a lease renewal letter from my landlords in August 2017 notifying me of a 75% increase in my annual rent. It was affordable, but on principal it was the crossroad I had been waiting for to force my hand into making a change. Having made the decision to move, I had less than 3 months before my imminent departure in which I needed to find alternative premises and move/dispose of a huge amount of office furniture, equipment, files and drawings etc.

I quickly ruled out the purpose built, one-person, soulless, office ‘hutches’ for similar annual rent having been previously spoilt with my 1000 sq/ft premises. Also, the workload at that time meant I only needed space for myself and didn’t forecast a huge upturn in growth over the next year. The most viable option was to regroup and go work from home. But with three children and a very busy family life, setting up office as a permanent solution inside the family home was quickly ruled out as a possibility. The only viable option was constructing a studio in our relatively small garden and joining the burgeoning ‘work from home’ contingent as a sole trading architect from my back yard.

One step forward, two steps back.

To realise this move in a very short period of time required a considerable amount of enabling works including the relocation of sheds, demolition of concrete slabs, removal of small trees and hedges and site clearance etc. All completed by my once fair hands in evenings and at weekends. During this time also, in order to keep costs to a minimum, I was clearing out the existing office of all its unwanted crap. Every night I was loading the car boot with all things worthy of retaining or all documents required for statutory purposes.

By the time I handed the keys back to the landlord the office was completely empty but my sheds, loft and dining room were full to bursting with furniture, files and books awaiting the completion of the garden studio.


It was an interesting three months but one which had a new start at its end.


All Architecture Great & Small  |  The Soleful Practitioner