ARCH-angels are Exhibiting at The Eco Technology Show 2014 for The Third Year Running!

Web banner for exhibitors

“The premier event for sustainable energy, build, transport, technology and resource efficiency”

ARCH-angels are back for the third year running and are delighted to be supporting this engaging show. We are keen to share our low energy building knowledge with visitors to our stand and will be offering a 20% discount to all those who register with us on the day.

Our top priority is fulfilling the specific design requirements of our clients, working closely with each of them to provide innovative designs; as we believe that making the green choice shouldn’t mean having to compromise between beauty, sustainability and affordability.

Our friendly team will be in attendance on both days, so drop by to discuss any of your potential projects. We will be exhibiting examples of our built projects and will be happy to discuss all the services we offer.

The Eco Technology Show runs from Thursday 26th 09.30 to 5.00pm and Friday 27th June 09.30 to 4.30pm at The Brighton Centre, Kings Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2GR

hemanthaARCH-angels are Exhibiting at The Eco Technology Show 2014 for The Third Year Running!

Building Upwards Rather Than Outwards

If you own a small detached house or bungalow and need a bigger home, but moving or extending outwards is not suitable for your needs, then building upwards could be an option for you. Perhaps you want to increase the size and number of rooms within your property, without impacting on your outside space. Maybe you wish to maximise the current value of your home and make a sound investment for the future. Or, when it comes to extending your property, you would rather make the most of the building’s footprint with more cost effective, sustainable
design solutions.

What are the benefits of an upwards extension?

Extending upwards enables you to create more floor space within a smaller building footprint.   Unlike an outwards extension, it means that you can expand your indoor living area, whilst retaining your outside garden space. In addition to maintaining and maximising the floor plan of your house, making use of the existing structure and services can be more cost effective and time efficient than building a new property.

An upwards extension could also help you increase the existing value of your home; making it a potential investment for you. Transforming a small house or bungalow into a much larger property could make it more saleable and boost its prospective sale price. As well as improving its capacity to meet the changing needs of a growing family, it could give you more flexibility to downsize or relocate in the future.

Points to consider when building upwards:

  • Do your research on the building and surrounding area. Note: upwards extensions are most suitable for small detached houses and bungalows but context is key. i.e. neighbouring properties will have influence on the likelihood of extending upwards – see examples.
  • Take account of your budget and whether or not an extension will add value to your property.
  • Check with your Local Authority as planning permission is required for upwards extensions.
  • Seek advice from builders, architects and structural engineers before work begins as well as throughout the design and build process to ensure your specific requirements are met.
  • Choose materials and a design that will enhance/improve and update the existing building.
  • Incorporate sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly design as well as building practices.

The Wignall House
A dramatic upwards extension; transforming a bungalow into a modern ‘upside-down’ 3-storey house to optimise views and increase desirability in the local area. Incorporating sustainable features including highly insulated timber construction, high performance double glazing and under floor heating to help save energy and reduce
carbon emissions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Tivoli Front After Website   Tivoli Back After Website
The Art Deco House
Transformation of a pitched hip roofed bungalow into a stylish 3-storey Art Deco building with flat roof terraces to maximise the ‘seaside’ nature of the property as well as make the most of its stunning sea views.

Art Deco House beforeWebsite   Art Deco House - afterWebsite

hemanthaBuilding Upwards Rather Than Outwards

Constructing Excellence in London and the South East Awards 2014 Finalists

ARCH-angels are delighted to announce that they have been shortlisted in the Constructing Excellence Award SME of the Year category. The practice is very excited to be considered for this prestigious award and will be attending a judging panel interview on Thursday 8th May 2014 in London.

This award specifically recognises the challenges and outstanding achievements of ‘Small to Medium Enterprises’, particularly those who have made strides in improving their company through implementing best practice. Judges will be looking for companies that intentionally focus on people development, customer satisfaction, industry best practice, performance management, and/or new ways of collaborative working. Entrants and nominees will be required to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and health and safety; describing the steps that have been taken to improve performance through the 4 Cs of co-operation, communication, competence and commitment.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 3rd July 2014 at a Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London hosted by the BBC journalist and broadcaster Juliet Morris.

Click here for a full list of nominees

hemanthaConstructing Excellence in London and the South East Awards 2014 Finalists

Common Misconceptions About Listed Properties

There is a lot of confusion about listed properties; what you are and aren’t allowed to do. Not to mention the authorities, which some see as rather dark forces indeed. Especially if you believe the dramatized versions which you may see on “reality” TV programmes.

Alex Villas-15What’s inside counts too!

The most common misconception is that listed status only covers the front façade and that you can do what you like as long as it isn’t visible from the street. This isn’t the case! Common minor works requiring listed building consent might include the replacement of windows or doors and knocking down internal walls as well as the larger works such as extensions.

New additions

Another big misunderstanding is that listed status only applies to original walls and features. This is not true. We’ve had a number of clients wanting to take down interior walls dating from the 1960s thinking they were doing the property a favour in returning it back to its original layout without realising these additions are also protected.

In conservation areas you may need permission from the Council before making alterations such as inserting windows, installing satellite dishes, adding conservatories or other extensions. The guidelines are a little less restrictive than for a listed property.

Custodian of a treasure

Despite the bad press which the authorities sometimes get, they are there to help you and protect your property. There is a wealth of information available through your local Council for instance and also The English Heritage website You should always check before commencing any work, as failure to comply could be very costly or even result in
criminal proceedings.

Above all, it’s important to remember that you never really own a listed property, rather you are the custodian of
a treasure.


hemanthaCommon Misconceptions About Listed Properties

Building Your ‘Green’ Dream Home … What Does It Mean?

We often hear the terms ‘green architecture’, ‘green design’ or ‘green building’, but when it comes to creating your Dream Home, what do they mean?  When we say a building is ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’, how is that defined?

VP4_v03-low resGreen architecture, or green design is a building approach that aims to increase resource efficiency, (i.e. energy, water and materials), while reducing impact on human health and the environment.  All this may give us an idea of what ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ means, but what elements of green building do we need to be aware of and why?

What are the main elements of green building?

Green building is more than the end result – it is an ongoing process.  It starts with proper site selection as well as the design specifications of your dream home.  It incorporates the practices, technologies and materials used in its construction.  Furthermore, it is determined by how you operate, maintain and develop the building throughout its entire lifecycle.

Energy efficiency is perhaps the most important element of sustainable architecture.  Reducing the amount of energy used within a home is the ultimate goal.  As well as choosing the right heating and cooling system, it involves using the right building fabric, high spec insulation and effective window / door seals.  This helps reduce carbon emission and the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home.  While solar PV panels can generate energy, low energy lighting can maximise its efficiency and so minimise costs.

Reducing water consumption can be a challenge due to modern living habits, but with careful specification of household and garden products, it can be managed effectively.  Low flush toilets, low flow rate taps and showers as well as water butts and other water harvesting systems can all help.   0462_101_Dining

Use of responsible materials to reduce environmental impact is fundamental to effective green building.  More use of locally sourced, recyclable materials as well as natural elements such as eco-friendly timber and less use of UPVC all help to strike a balance between sustainability and cost effectiveness.    

Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation is a key consideration in green building.  Making provisions for effective waste disposal and re-cycling as well as use of eco-friendly products all contribute.  Surface water run-off is also considered; specifying permeable paving to reduce flood risk.

Occupant health and well-being is of paramount importance.  Maximising natural daylight and ventilation as well as good sound insulation are all key factors in eco-friendly design.  Making homes more adaptable throughout their lifecycle whilst minimising costs is considered good practice and design criteria is set by the Lifetime Homes standard to achieve this.
(For more information see

Attaining a balance between ecology and design, sustainability and cost effectiveness is definitely a challenge in the architects’ practice.  That’s why everyone is involved in the green build process – designers, planners, developers, builders and of course you, the home owner.  Safe to say, the main goal is to meet your individual requirements, while doing some good for the environment along the way.

hemanthaBuilding Your ‘Green’ Dream Home … What Does It Mean?

Building From The Foundations Up

Self build is becoming a fast growing market in the UK with over 20,000 people building their own homes each year.  So, what motivates the self builder?  What are the pros and cons of doing it yourself?  What key factors need to be considered and why?

Creating the home of your dreams can be an exciting yet daunting prospect.  It means that  you can build or renovate a house to meet your personal needs, circumstances and tastes.  It could give you more choice of developing a home in a location you desire (subject to planning permission and availability).  It can be a good financial investment and prove to be more cost effective than buying as well as offer tax advantages (that is for self-build, not renovation).  It can enable you to make the most of innovative products and sustainable methods and materials, so that you can create a home that is well designed, better equipped and more energy efficient than the market may offer.  Over and above that, seeing your own home project from start to finish can give you an immense sense of satisfaction.

Gareth Reast is in the process of converting and extending a 120 year old stone barn to create an attractive, adaptable and sustainable family home.  Along with the help of his father-in-law Gwynn, Gareth is determined to plan, design and build his own grand design amidst the beautiful surroundings of West Wales.

What have been the main considerations?

Gareth needed a home that adapted to the changing needs of his family and wanted to make sure that the conversion was as eco-friendly as possible.  Gareth was keen to use sustainable methods of construction, select materials with low environmental impact and has learned craft skills such as lead work, oak carpentry and stone masonry to enable him to work with the building first hand.

What are the main features and benefits?

Use of recycled and reclaimed building materials such as local roof slates, timber joists and floor boards is a more cost effective and environmentally friendly way of constructing the building.  Along with timber frame construction, the use of hemp and lime insulation provides a high thermal value, which will insulate Gareth’s home more effectively; making it more energy efficient and at the same time allowing the solid stone structure to
breathe naturally.

What are the challenges and limitations?

It is important to take planning considerations and building regulations into account and understand the build process.   You need to carefully consider costs and establish a budget as well as consult with various experts along the way; including building control officers, structural engineers and architects.  Along with the patience and ability to adapt to changes in plan, you can reap the rewards of building your own dream home.

barnConversion01 barnConversion06For more information on self build, please go to or

hemanthaBuilding From The Foundations Up

SUSSEX Small Business Awards Winner 2013

Thursday 5th December 2013 Sussex Business Awards at the Brighton Dome, Brighton, East Sussex, UKARCH-angels Architects were presented with the Small Business of the Year Award in front of 500 of the county’s leading business people gathered to celebrate twenty five years of business excellence, many of whom were previous award winners themselves.

Nicola Thomas, Partner – Architect said “We are delighted to win this award and make a significant contribution to people’s understanding of low energy building in a creative way. Richard and I have a strong, talented and dedicated team who have helped build the practice in what has been challenging times.”

Thursday 5th December 2013 Sussex Business Awards at the Brighton Dome, Brighton, East Sussex, UKIain McKenna, Heart FM Sussex – One of the Panel of Judges said, “It was fundamental, the detail and clarity they had in their answers to all the questions the entry form asked. When I read the entry, I immediately felt that they had put a lot of thought into the future of their business. If they didn’t have the expertise in house they seemed happy to bring experts in. The level of detail was consistent on each question, which demonstrated to me that they had a detailed business plan that they referred back to often.”

RichardSUSSEX Small Business Awards Winner 2013

Understanding Permitted Development

So, you’ve decided to extend your property? Before we let our creative minds roam free, we need to ensure we’re within our rights to realise our dreams. We may not have to go through the rigmarole and cost of seeking planning permission. Recent amendments to legislation for permitted development have ushered in major changes to planning law, which introduce a relaxation of what you can build without requiring planning permission.

What can I build under permitted development?

How you alter your property is subject to many of the same rules as before, so if you own a flat, maisonette or a property other that a house, permitted development is not the route for you.
If you live within an area of outstanding natural beauty, such as the South Downs National Park, then chances are, any proposed extension will have to go through planning.
The big changes – as of 30 May 2013 until 30 May 2016 – apply to extensions so the planning permission you thought you may need, you probably will not.

What do changes mean for householders?

Two amendments are key: the size of the extension and the new ‘neighbour consultation’ process.
For domestic houses, the rules apply to single-storey rear extensions only, while for grander designs, you must still seek planning permission.

  1. First, the great news is that homeowners can erect far larger extensions than before; doubling the limit from 4m to 8m for detached houses and from 3m to 6m for all others.
  2. Second, `neighbour consultation’ has caused a bit of a stir, so it’s important to clarify the facts.

39 Lawrence Road -Residential Extension 2

Homeowners must now seek consent from any adjoining neighbours. OK, the days of nattering over the fence may be gone for many but being on good terms with your neighbours has no bearing on the law even though, under permitted development, you do need their consent and ‘prior approval’ from the local planning authority.

Once the applications are submitted, your neighbours have 21 days and the local authority 42 to raise any objections. If none are forthcoming within that window, regardless of whether both parties actually object, you can proceed. If an objection is made, however, you still have the right to appeal.

Always check the details first


It’s always best to err on the side of caution, so before diving into a building project, check for any restrictions on your properly. Seek advice from your local authority planning department and always consult an architect, planning consultants or builders for professional advice.

For more information on householder permitted development and the new neighbour consultation scheme visit

RichardUnderstanding Permitted Development

Guardian Article – Green Architects

             “Why lean and green does not have to be mean on design”

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Stunning barn-like architecture replacing an outdated 1950s bungalow

As environmental awareness has grown, architects have become increasingly focused on Capture One 38745resizedsustainability, energy efficiency and green building. But in the quest for green growth, many are conscious this should not compromise the scope of design. ARCH angels Architects in Brighton is one such practice committed to integrating sustainable, cost-effective construction with sophisticated, practical designs.

Co-directors Nicola Thomas and Richard Zinzan share more than 20 years of developing an environmental identity through private practice.
Founding ARCH-angels Architects in 2009, they saw the opportunity to take this further. “Our aim is to create green designs that do not forgo on form or function and deliver on the use and quality of space for our clients to enjoy,”
says Nicola.

VP2_v04-low res

New country house project with plans for an educational facility to serve local school children and public artworks using reclaimed materials

The practice strives to constantly push the boundaries of eco architecture; taking on large scale community projects as well as small domestic renovations. And now, the team have incorporated bespoke one-off new-build houses into their repertoire. Whatever the project and whatever the size, it seems ARCH-angels Architects are intent on exceeding current building regulations as well as client expectations. “We can often find solutions a client or builder might not have been able to envisage,” says Richard.

Many people shy away from green architecture, because of the misconception that sustainable building is more expensive. There is also the fear that architects will impose their own ideas and style onto a project. But that’s exactly where ARCH angels Architects come into their own. “Matching our ideals with those of our clients is at the heart of what we do. It is important to us that our clients are at the centre of their project and we work on a fixed fee basis so there are no hidden costs,” says Nicola.

ARCH-angels Architects understand that an integrated design process is fundamental to the success of a green building project — and that should actively involve all members of the team as well as the client. As a result, every building is unique in its architectural style. “As you will see from our projects, our practice does not have an ‘office’ style,” says Richard. “The look and feel of the property is dependent on the wishes of the client and the context of the development.”


“ARCH-angels’ expertise took our project from ordinary to exceptional. We are delighted with the results”

CF018780WEB A typical example of domestic-scale architecture carried out by the practice is Radinden Manor Road in Hove. The project came to them as an uninspiring modern house with no green credentials. ARCH angels Architects introduced much needed space and natural light by creating a versatile free-flow space between the ground floor living areas and the garden. Additional accommodation was added through a roof extension with locally sourced and coppiced sweet chestnut cladding, completely transforming the front of the building.

The practice has taken a radically different approach to a new country house project in East Hampshire. The building’s orientation turns the archetypal country house on its head. As well as maximising passive solar gain, the building addresses any potential planning issues due to its green field location. All the requirements of modern living are quietly dealt with underneath a timber gridshell roof, while earth sheltering keeps the visual impact minimal and increases biodiversity.

Adding bespoke one-off new build houses to their portfolio, ARCH-angels Architects have recently completed a stunning family home with barn-like architecture. Other projects in the pipeline include an impressive contemporary 5 bedroom 3 storey house in Brighton as well as an interesting two storey ‘upwards’ extension to a bungalow in the same town and two new eco-houses in Leatherhead. “We have a strong green vision,” says Nicola. “One which we can apply to different types of projects, from the most ordinary to the most extraordinary.”

The article appeared in The Guardian in October 2012


RichardGuardian Article – Green Architects