Mcmullan Studio
towards true diversity
London, UK

Mcmullan Studio believes design is optimistic. Based in London, their team creates architecture of all types and scale with empathy at the heart of their approach. Founded in 2018 by Andrew Mcmullan, the studio constantly brings together eclectic ideas and thoughtful pragmatism to create beautiful, buildable projects for progressive clients.

 

Bringing global experience to a local scale

We're an emerging studio shaped by big office experience. My design approach evolved over 15 years in senior-level roles at Heatherwick Studio, HOK and Allies and Morrison. Working on major global projects convinced me that: (1) Design is optimistic; (2) Every challenge has a perfect solution, and (3) The best design revolves and evolves round people. Establishing my own studio was a natural evolution. I didn't simply want to imagine a better world. I wanted to create designs to make that vision a reality. Since we opened in 2018, we've won a number of competitions - including one run by the RIBA and another at Europan 15, the world's largest design biennial. Today, we're working on exciting projects that tap into our passion for designing resilient, inclusive and sustainable environments. 

 

Designing for a wellness capital

One of our most interesting experiences was the process of developing our masterplan concept for Innsbruck, Austria. As a joint winner of the project at Europan 15, we wanted to see how the locals lived, so we went native. We shunned tourist hotspots for supermarkets, neighbourhood cafes and even a bowling alley. It was a really useful way to understand how people really live in the city - even if our classroom German did raise a few augenbrauen (eyebrows).

 

Navigating lockdown

We were due to move into larger offices in central London when the UK went into lockdown. So for us, the new space is an adventure waiting to happen. Working from home reinforced our core values. We believe in a grassroots approach to design - working with local communities at every stage to create schemes that tell their stories. It's a people-first design. When everyone in the studio gets to see each other’s homes via Zoom, it's a great reminder that we're ordinary people too. We face the same everyday challenges - like juggling babies with work. I think architects sometimes forget that. The best design isn't a showcase for an architect's ego. It improves people's lives.  

 

Staying nimble

I'm very lucky that everything we're working on taps into the core passions I evolved working on major projects. Resilience. Inclusivity. Sustainability. Grassroots design. The only difference is scale. As an emerging practice, we're adapting our global experience to make it more flexible without losing the big vision and ambition. A good example is our work on a masterplan for the area around Skipton Railway Station. We're partnering with my former colleagues at Allies and Morrison to develop a concept that will bring positive opportunities for locals and visitors alike. It's a major project that would be too big for an emerging studio to handle alone. So our partnership with Allies and Morrison is the best of both worlds. It gives us the opportunity to think big while staying nimble.

 

Evolving an original approach

We believe design is optimistic. We also think modern architecture must benefit mankind. For us, it's as big and exciting as that. We're keen to work on projects with social impact - schemes that tackle the major challenges faced by modern urban environments, from an aging population to the climate emergency. For example, we'd love to evolve our own approach to radical ecology, design schools that inspire positive physical, emotional and academic outcomes, and develop new ways to promote intergenerational living. And we want to build them. We're not interested in paper projects.

 

Towards true diversity

Our first challenge is to continue growing a diverse team of talented people. We can't take diversity for granted. We need to make it happen - in the studio and across the whole profession. I'm doing everything I can to ensure architects don't all look like me - white, male, middle class.

14 07 2017 Andrew Portrait 7 0368 1

Flexstead 2 Andrew Mcmullan v2HappyValley 2 Andrew Mcmullan v2

HappyValley 3 Andrew Mcmullan

Hefted Housing 01 Andrew Mcmullan v2

Rural Workspace 2 Andrew Mcmullan v2

Photography Courtesy of Mcmullan Studio






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