ARCH-angels Compact Challenge

Feature in Portfolio Magazine October 2016 ARCH-angels Portfolio article

ARCH-angels: Compact Challenge

The challenge: The internal and external renovation of a compact three- bedroom, three-storey, mid-terrace period property in Margaret Street, Brighton. ARCH-Angels architects take us through the project

The Brief:

ARCH-angels compact challenge saw an internal and external renovation of a compact three-bedroom, three storey, mid- terrace period property, including new services, windows, patio sliding doors, internal and external redecoration. The brief was to bring light down into the basement kitchen/dining area, which was a dark, compact space. The client also required the provision of a mini-utility room at the rear of the kitchen with a WC.

The interior scheme had to create open light spaces whilst simultaneously providing a lot of bespoke storage. We needed to open up the ground floor as one through-space and improve the connection to the rear patio area through full-height sliding windows. In order for this compact space to work as a home, we had to provide contemporary-style storage to the bedrooms and bathrooms, along with a coat cupboard near the front entrance door that also contains shoes and a mirror. This was achieved through designing the storage to be read as part of the walls with no visible hardware.

The detail:

The coat cupboard, for example, floats above the ground. It is painted out to match the surrounding walls, with a large mirrored panel door to both expand views of the internal room and bounce reflected light around. In this way the cupboard virtually disappears into the wall behind it.

“The overall finish was only achieved by some creative thinking regarding how to maximise every millimetre in the house”

The single bedroom upstairs had to provide a single bed, a wardrobe and a display area. This was achieved by designing the wardrobe to double up as a headboard for the bed, provide a niche for displaying objects and housing a reading lamp whilst also creating an area of hidden storage behind the bed.

Bringing the feeling of light and space was achieved by designing the stair to the basement in a way that borrows light from the ground floor living area through a glass panel in the stair wall. An existing light well was reclaimed, bringing a sense of space and light to a basement kitchen. A small utility area and WC were created next to this area, using pocket doors and cleverly thought-out storage. The rear of the property was opened out to an existing rear terrace by the incorporation of new sliding, glazed doors. Such features allow the house to be flooded with natural light, while the use of neutral decor allows the internal living space to feel fresh and spacious. By using LED lighting and finishing walls with Farrow & Ball paint, a perfect living area for both entertaining and relaxing was created.

Not only was the house compact, but access to the house was limited. Set in an urban environment, within a conservation area, with limited parking and no front gardens, the builders had a challenge on their hands! Getting materials delivered was, at times, problematic and getting the materials into the house could be a struggle.

The overall finish was only achieved by some creative thinking regarding how to maximise every millimetre in the house. Unused fireplaces and chimney breasts were removed internally, but the stack had to be kept external as the house is within a conservation area. Beams were spliced and hidden within the floor zones and were designed to be as small a possible whilst still complying with regulations, both in terms of strength/loading and health and safety (handling).

Compact sanitary ware was used throughout to ensure space was not wasted without compromising on comfort and usability. Existing drainage connections were upgraded and gulley repositioned. Existing sash windows were overhauled and some were replaced entirely to ensure no draughts or leaks. A new, integrated fire alarm system was installed to ensure the safety of the occupiers within the 4-storey house, which has a stair open to the living space and entrance level at ground floor.

Site management was exemplary, given the challenges faced: limited space, no parking, no skip licences, coupled with a deadline set by the client. Working relationships were good, as was communication with the whole team. The clients were very much hands-on and responsive when asked about changes or confirmation of materials, finishes and the like. The project did overrun a little, but this was acknowledged in advance when it became apparent that the challenge of the site limitations had begun to slow progress. Given the quality of the finish and space created, this was soon forgotten about as the clients began to enjoy and realise the full potential of their dream home.

Client Testimonial

“What to do with the ordinary – turn it into the extraordinary. If you’re thinking of refurbishing a property and want to maximise its potential, then using a good team of architects, as we did, makes all the difference. They were able to guide us through the unknown in a calm and positive manner.

Richard Zinzan, Co-owner/Director of ARCH-angels Architects took our brief and shared our vision to transform an airless basement kitchen and other dark spaces into a light, spacious home for our family.
One dated bathroom of average size was transformed into two 21st century shower rooms, complete with bespoke fitted storage.

Green space from outdoors was brought into the living area by adding glass sliding doors – an entirely different perspective on a tiny yard. When lit at night, the Sussex flint wall is transformed into a work of art infused with light and shade.

By taking the clutter of everyday living and designing bespoke storage around our needs, Rachael Pigg, architect and interior designer, enabled us to organise and bring order and calmness to all rooms.

Pete Sonntag, as project leader, was always there to answer queries and help us navigate through important decision-making processes. Sounds like magic but by sharing your vision with the ARCH-angel’s team your dream spaces are possible. They will challenge and extend your vision to its limits.

Although it was tough whilst the work was being done, do try to enjoy the journey as we did and know that it will all be forgotten once you are living in and enjoying your new spaces.”

Janet Bentley

Create your dream home: Contact ARCH-angels Architects Ltd
3 Dorset Place , Brighton BN2 1ST
01273 267 184 | | Twitter: @ArchAngelsBton

RichardARCH-angels Compact Challenge

Progress on Ovingdean New Family Home

Discreet Family Home

Keeping your project on track through the Winter can be a difficult task. Our Ovingdean new dwelling project was certainly no exception. After some terrible wet weather, we are now making fantastic progress on the site of this discreet family home and sunken garden in Ovingdean.

After this initial delay the project is now back on track with a new completion date expected in October. A recent site visit showed the progress of this family home that sits in the existing read garden of our client and is being built for his son, daughter in Law and their growing family.

From road level all that will be seen is a modest entrance pod and vehicle access gates. The proposed living roof of locally relevant meadow grass will allow the property to blend into the site between retained hedges both sides of the plot.  To the rear of the property the large family room will open out to a new terrace with steps descending down to a sunken garden.


Ovingdean new house building on site
RichardProgress on Ovingdean New Family Home

Artists Open Houses Installation

Don’t Stand Behind the Line

We have now reached the end of our fourth weekend of opening Richard’s Eco renovated house for the Artists Open Houses festival and it’s time to reflect before we start on the final weekend.

When we signed up to be the Headline Sponsor for Artists Open Houses we were excited to be part of such a prominent and growing festival in Brighton. We wanted to extend our involvement past that of just a sponsor so we decided to open up Richard’s house to display the art work from the Architects in our studio called ‘Architects Art. Being a creative bunch we didn’t want to stop there and felt the festival needed a bit of interaction too.

Originally conceived to add a new and exciting element to the festival we decided to do the tape installation because architects and interior designers by their very nature create a physical space for people to occupy and experience on many levels. Despite this, we have become spectators of architecture and design by observing it in a 2D format in magazines or on television. We wanted to invite visitors to our Open House to become involved in the transformation of space in a physical way. Step over the “Stand Behind the Line” tape and explore and engage with the design of a space. We imagined the space to be a 3d interior decoration but what we have discovered has been so much more.

We have seen the space develop into an individual expression of personality with some intricate pieces that required great skill and concentration in their creation. We saw this theme starting to develop during the Artists Open Houses Launch party and the old Market in April. People were focusing on bespoke pieces and enjoying the interaction between the art and the space. We knew from that night that the concept had developed and that what we would see would be far more exciting than what we had initially conceived.

Black not White

During Weekend one of the festival we used Black tape on a white painted and boxed out room. This created a bold and striking foundation for the weeks to come. The first visitor drew a window and this was followed by a table with some flowers, we thought we may see the creation of interiors after all! Baby Cat –  Richards 20-Year-old cat –  then seemed to inspire our visitors and Fliss and Rudy were born, these were the first two cats to what has now become quite a Clowder! We were also impressed with the detail behind the portrait of Taka, The Seagull and a Leicester group who created a fox and were wishing for The Foxes to win the Premiership league – The installation room clearly brings good luck!

The second week we added Yellow to the installation and were impressed with the interaction the visitors had with the black tape. Most worked with what was already on the canvas, adding colourful wings to a black butterfly, making the lobster yellow and adding wine to the wine glass! We also saw a beautiful sunshine rise over the Black seagull, a wonderful pineapple and yellow paint spill from the black paint can.

During weekend three we introduced Red tape. We had further interaction with the existing art and also an array of wonderful additions. A perfect spiders web with resident spider, another lobster and a powerful statement from Reverend McTernan “Acceptance”

Don’t be Blue its not over yet!

Moving into the Blue weekend we were running out of space and excited to see how our visitors used the blue tape, we were certainly not disappointed. An underwater scene with a distressed fish, a philosophical Snoopy, the beautiful Pavilion, a blue giraffe, The Eiffel Tower and another poignant statement “Do what you love” We also saw visitors create and get tangled in a web constructed across the room that was then dismantled by another visitor, allowing access to be regained!

During the final 3-day weekend we will be using Green Tape to finish off the interactive installation “Don’t Stand Behind the Line”. We have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback and number of visitors. Not only have they been amazing in taking part in our installation they have also viewed and loved our Architects Art and enjoyed the Tea and cakes for the worthwhile Sussex Night stop charity.

750 visitors have already passed through our doors over the four weekends and we are excited to see how many more want to attend on the last weekend to see, eat and stick! The whole 5 weekends will be shown as a time-lapse video and photos will be available to view on our website so watch this space!

Please view last weekends time-lapse below and look through the creations!

artists Open Houses blue weekend
RichardArtists Open Houses Installation

Artists Open Houses

We are now three weekends into our ARCH-angels Art House opening for Artists Open Houses festival throughout May.

We are displaying art work by five of our Architects all in an Eco-renovated house done by ARCH-angels Architects. We also have cake sales for Sussex Night Stop charity and the interactive art installation. Its a house catering for all ages and interests and with over 600 visitors walking out with a smile on their faces we are confident it is being enjoyed by all!

Opening up a house for the Artists Open Houses festival is a wonderful experience. It gives you a unique opportunity to meet so many interesting people you would not normally cross paths with. We have had such great feedback about the art work, the Eco-renovation house and the installation room, it really makes it all worthwhile. The installation was initially thought up to create a 3d interior in a room but we have seen it develop into more of a personal expression and we are really enjoying the direction it has taken. We still have two more weekends so please do come down and add to the developing live art work of “Don’t stand behind the line” installation.

We are No12 on the Kemptown Trail and next weekend we will be using Blue tape to add to this ever-growing installation. Please follow us on Twitter @ARCHangelsBTON and remember to #installation #Architectsart and #kidscompetition


RichardArtists Open Houses

Outstanding Eco Home


Design for the ‘country house of the future’ labelled ‘outstanding’ and granted planning permission under Paragraph 55.

A scheme 6 years in the making and conceived of by ARCH-angels Architects as a blueprint for the ‘country house of the future’, has been granted planning permission at appeal by the Planning Inspectorate. Judging the design for the cutting edge eco home as ‘Architecturally outstanding’, Inspector L Gibbons has granted permission in accordance with Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.


The country house of the future

We had sought permission for the scheme, sited in the rural landscape of East Hampshire, under paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This policy allows building in open countryside when a design is considered to be ‘architecturally truly outstanding or innovative.’ There have been on average only six approvals a year judged to fulfil the criteria of Paragraph 55 since its introduction to planning policy in 1997.

The policy is an adaption of what was once known as Gummer’s Law, traditionally associated with grand country houses and stately homes. ARCH-angels Architects wanted to turn this paradigm on its head and create a country house of the future which would be recognisable as outstanding in relation to contemporary architecture and the modern way of living.

The scheme proposes the potential of a new rural typology based upon organic forms and a holistic approach to sustainability. Traditional principles of opulent design, maximum impact and statements of wealth have been reversed: the architects wanted this building to have minimal impact, to be sensitive, respect and enhance the surrounding landscape.


Design Concept

Achieving an outstanding design required the collaboration of a skilled and committed team of 17 people, across 12 organisations, as well as the input of East Hampshire District Council Architect’s Panel and consultation with neighbours including the Parish Council: not only is the result outstanding but this thorough process was also exemplar.

The sculptural design of the house is formed by the existing contours which naturally seemed to create two ‘orange segments’ which sit into the low area of the site allowing a ‘bridge’ between the two higher points in the form of living roofs. The journey along the new driveway brings you to the valley between the highest points of the site to where the proposed house will nestle. Vehicle access terminates at garaging to the side of the house however the journey continues through the building on foot to a tunnel lit with sun-pipes that leads to a subterranean look-out observatory, peaking out like a blinking eye.

The two segment form of the building splits the house into a predominantly north / north-east facing part and a predominantly south / south-west facing part. The internal arrangement responds to this orientation, positioning rooms with less need for natural light to the north, while the more open plan living areas, terrace and pool face south-west to take advantage of the sun light and solar gain.

Sustainable from initial concept

ARCH-angels Architects’ eco house design philosophy produced a design that was truly low energy: it has low environmental impact both visually and in its method of construction and materials used. True sustainability will be delivered through balancing the benefits of site conditions and orientation, embedded energy in construction, lifetime cycles of use, consumption and maintenance and interconnected smart technologies.

The earth-roofed home utilises Passive solar principles and locally available materials with low embodied energy including local Bargate stone, rammed earth, locally coppiced glulam timber beams. A holistic water strategy was conceived to both reduce water use and reduce the impact in terms of supply and waste. An energy hierarchy was introduced too: a “fabric-first approach” reduced the amount of energy required and introduction of some renewables, Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR), and biomass heating reduced the impact of the energy that would still be required. The building was conceived to be one that could be ‘reclaimed’ by the earth when it’s life is over, made from materials that can be found on the site or close by.


Ms L. Gibbons for the Planning Inspectorate said:

“The important point about this proposal would be the combination of features and opportunities offered on the site which would combine to form an integral part of its design. Overall, the design would embrace the site’s physical characteristics in terms of the contours of the land, its orientation and views towards the ponds. It would be of an exceptional quality…

“The quality of the design, incorporation of sustainability concepts from the start, coupled with ecological benefits and a sensitivity to the characteristics of the area are sufficient to justify the scheme when considered against the criteria set out in fourth bullet of paragraph 55 of the Framework.”

East Hampshire District Council Architects Panel Said:

“By integrating cutting-edge technology in a design that is of the highest standard, whilst fully engaging with its landscape setting and location, an outstanding design has been achieved.”

Nicola Thomas, Director of ARCH-angels Architects, said:

“Everyone involved with the scheme is thrilled with the result and delighted for the client. The planning permission is well deserved – it was won with all the work and passion the whole team invested over 6 years to ensure that the proposal was truly sustainable.”

Project Team:


RichardOutstanding Eco Home

Planning permission granted for a barn conversion

Great news, we have had planning permission granted for a beautiful barn conversion in the countryside. This will allow the client to have breathtaking views of the beautiful Sussex countryside and we cant wait to bring you updates on the build.

RichardPlanning permission granted for a barn conversion

ARCH angels Architects become Headline Sponsor of Artists Open Houses 2016

The Artist Open House festival in Brighton, Hove and beyond is the largest event of its kind in the UK, with approximately 200 houses and studio spaces opening their doors to the public during the May festival. A hugely diverse range of artworks are available to buy direct from over 1,000 artists and makers, from original paintings, prints, graffiti arts, ceramics and textiles to photography, sculpture, crafts, jewellery and many other media.

Judy Stevens, Festival Director for Artists Open Houses, says: “We are really delighted to welcome ARCH angel Architects as Artists Open Houses headline sponsors this year. They approach environment-conscious architectural projects with a balance between beauty, sustainability and affordability that makes them the perfect partner for the Artist Open Houses and we will very much look forward to developing ideas with them.”

Richard and Nicola the Directors at  ARCH angels Architects say: “We are proud to be the headline sponsors of the Artists Open Houses 2016 festival. All the team at Arch-angels are passionate about architecture, art and design. To support the Artists Open Houses is a great fit for us and we are excited to be part of the festival.”

The 2016 Artists Open Houses festival will take place over weekends between 30 April – 30 May.


RichardARCH angels Architects become Headline Sponsor of Artists Open Houses 2016