Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

15 February 2024

It’s been a slow start to 2024 on the journal front! We’re thrilled that planning permission was granted for our project to convert an existing warehouse into four new flats in East Oxford. In a previous life, the building was used to manufacture balsa wood floats and other fishing tackle, but for more than a decade has stood empty. Converting, rather than rebuilding, will retain the distinctive roof shape – a landmark on the street – and celebrate a small piece of local industrial heritage.

Although planning wasn’t simple, we collaborated with the planners to develop a scheme that met their requirements and responded to input from the community. The design keeps sustainability at its heart: the embodied carbon in the original building fabric will be kept locked away, energy efficiency vastly improved, renewable technologies integrated, and the development will be car free. We’re currently working closely with our client through the technical design stage.

We encourage clients to consider the potential of reimagining existing spaces. As retrofit specialists, we’re here to provide help and guidance. Contact us to learn more about our architects’ services.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

23 November 2023

Sow Space has been featured in December’s issue of Build It magazine! Build It is a top source of inspiration, expert advice, and practical help for self builders and home renovators. After our net zero in operation extension and retrofit in East Oxford was shortlisted for an award, we appear in their ‘in focus awards shortlist’ section for “Best Architect or Designer for a Renovation or Conversion Project”. We’re in great company with lots of other high-quality projects and innovations.

Tomorrow (Friday 24th November), we’ll be heading to the Build It awards evening ceremony at the Hilton London Bankside to find out if we’ve won. We’ve invited our clients to the event too, which will involve a three-course dinner, a comedy set by comedian Scott Bennett, and some great networking opportunities. We’re proud to have been recognised for our ambitious project. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome – whatever happens though, we’ll make a fantastic night of it!

Talk to us if you have a project in mind, existing or new build, where you’d like to incorporate low energy and ecological design. We offer full architects’ services and will guide you every step of the way.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

16 November 2023

Say hello to Felicia! We’re thrilled to welcome Felicia Todericiu to Sow Space as a Project Architect. Her passion for design and construction and enthusiasm for life strengthens our team and again, expands our offering. Architecture is about people, and Felicia considers the home the best place to start to improve the quality of our lives. She believes an architect must oversee all work stages and all intricate details of a project to be able to successfully turn a concept into reality.

Felicia is doing exactly this, taking on contract admin duties to see a complex project through on site. She leads a number of projects with technical challenges that happen to have a recurring theme of rebuilding roofs. Felicia loves to travel and sees local cuisine as the best way to get to know a place. An ideal day would involve yoga, quality coffee, and a good book. You’ll also find Felicia taking marathon-length walks with her family along the river, into the countryside, and beyond.

As we grow our team, we’re able to take on more complex and ambitious projects, as well as reduce our lead time for new project starts. Talk to us if you have a low impact project that we can help with.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

04 October 2023

We’ve been shortlisted for an award! Built It 2023 “Best Architect or Designer for a Renovation or Conversion Project”.

A modestly extended, deeply retrofitted Edwardian mid-terrace in East Oxford. The owner had a vision from the outset to create an exemplar property to demonstrate how to reduce energy consumption by up to 80% and create a net zero home in operation. The new kitchen is constructed using natural and recycled materials with glue-free joints and finished with ultra-low-VOC paint. Sow Space supported their client with a list of services that exceeds the normal practice of an architect.

Architect – Sow Space

Structural Engineer – THB Consulting

Contractor – AMC Build

Kitchen – Kite Creative

Photography – Dan Paton

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

28 September 2023

As we welcome the cooler autumn weather and say goodbye to the heatwaves, our summer social seems a long time ago! Our team ventured off to explore the city of Oxford as if we were newcomers. We hopped on the iconic hop-on, hop-off bus, which allowed us to see Oxford’s historic streets in a whole new light. But this was no ordinary sightseeing tour; one of our team members mapped out the best pubs along the route, laying the groundwork for an unusual pub crawl!

What made this outing all the more remarkable was the transformation of our pub-hopping adventure into a mix of cultures and experiences. We ate Thai food in a traditional English pub, sampled local beers along the way,  and closed the day with steaming bowls of ramen, celebrating our shared passion for Asian cuisine. Our adventure took a playful turn with a number of engaging board games, varying from team-related to imaginative guesswork puzzles – we learnt a lot about each other! 

So, not only are we specialists in low energy and ecological building design, we are now experts in where to eat and drink in Oxford! After our summer break, we are refreshed and ready for your new projects.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

24 August 2023

In the heart of an urban landscape, a verdant marvel emerges! Our bike shelter living roof is looking lush and green on this sunny summer’s day. It grows a rich and robust tapestry of buttercups, Roman chamomile, alpine strawberries, thyme, marjoram, and lavender. Not only does it look fantastic, it’s an oasis for pollinators and insects, provides a sweet snack (when the strawberries grow), and the evergreen herbs are available all year round for cooking with.

In the context of buildings, living roofs and walls can help green our built environment, which comes with huge benefits. It can help to regulate temperature, reducing energy consumption in buildings, and having a cooling effect on the surrounding environment. Plants and their substrate absorb rainwater, mitigating stormwater runoff and supporting water management systems. They can also improve air quality by filtering pollutants and through photosynthesis.

As architects that specialise in low energy and ecological design, we strive to incorporate living roofs and walls in our designs where possible. Talk to us if you have a building project in mind.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

27 July 2023

It’s project completion season…or at least, project completion photography season! Oxford-based architectural photographer Dan Paton spent a gorgeous summer’s day shooting our showcase extension and deep retrofit in East Oxford. He spent the whole day from dawn ‘til dusk (and that’s a long time at the height of summer) making sure that every view and detail we discussed was captured, as the sunlight washed over every surface at varying angles of intensity.

On this shot of the rear elevation, the shadows cast by the bright summer sun really set off the clean crisp lines of the external wall insulation, white silicone render, and new triple glazed windows and doors. Meanwhile, the herringbone brick patio made up of all the old bricks from the demolition of the previously existing walls and chimney breasts, reinstates the warmth and character of the original Edwardian house. Together, they strike a wonderful balance between old and new.

Dan has done an amazing job and the results are truly superb. We hope to show off the final photos very soon. Talk to us if you’d like a specialist retrofit architect to help you achieve a similar project.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

13 July 2023

Construction starts on site! Sow Space are providing architect contract admin services on this extension and retrofit project in South Oxford, which started earlier this year. This service is to ensure that what’s built reflects the contract drawings, involving regular site visits, progress meetings, and close liaison with client and contractor. Sometimes the service is described as ‘project management’, but it’s the main contractor who manages the day-to-day running of the project.

This photo shows progress of installation of the external wall plinth insulation (the green stuff). Often this is omitted to save costs. However, to minimise thermal bridging at the base of the building, it should be installed down to foundation level by digging a perimeter trench. As a material, XPS should be used to tolerate below ground conditions. We like to use the analogy that the plinth insulation is like having thick socks on to keep your feet toasty in the winter months.

When carrying out an extension and deep retrofit, it’s important to appoint a specialist architect who understands the process and what materials to specify. Talk to us if you have a project in mind.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

08 June 2023

Another project completion! This pre-1900 solid brick and stone house in Eynsham had no insulation. Our client endured fridge-like winter temperatures, so sought a specialist architect to help improve thermal comfort. Following a whole house appraisal, we proposed insulation to walls, skeilings, lofts, and some areas of floor. Due to reasons of cost, disruption, and practical application, some wall insulation was omitted, which was deemed acceptable as the wall is south facing.

We visited recently for a final defects inspection and to photograph the completed project. It happened to be a warm day with sun beaming down onto the south-facing roof. Our client reported that prior to the building work, the underside of the skeilings would be hot to the touch, effectively acting like giant radiators in the rooms. However, the now insulated skeilings remained very cool. This is a testament to the efficacy of wood fibre insulation installed in the right places.

The end result is a family home that is now both beautiful and comfortable to live in. As architects, we’re proud to deliver success stories like this. Talk to us if you have a similar project in mind.

Kitchen within extension and retrofit project by Sow Space

11 May 2023

Say hello to Irina! We are delighted to have Irina Madalina Luca join Sow Space as a Project Architect. She brings a wealth of experience in domestic and commercial residential projects of all scales. Her enthusiasm for design and client care expands our offering and allows the practice to take on larger and more ambitious projects. Irina is a believer in building relationships with honesty, trust, and compassion, helping her to truly make a difference to the lives of others.

Irina leads a number of exciting projects, including the conversion of a warehouse in East Oxford into new homes and an ambitious contemporary extension and retrofit of an unorthodox semi in Headington. She loves to spend time in nature, taking long countryside walks or growing vegetables at her allotment. Irina plays in a samba band, partakes in all sorts of dances, and is a keen traveller to obscure locations with a deep curiosity for different cultures and people.

If you hadn’t realised already, we’re so happy to have Irina on board and so are our clients. Talk to us if you have a low impact project that our team of specialist architects can help with.