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London architects list top 10: The best architects in London

We're on the list of the top London architects according to The Industry Post – check out which other firms are on there, and then hear about how we could help you

20 September 2021
4 minutes read
London architects discussing a residential project

You’ve come here looking for a list of the best architects in London. Here’s one from a couple of years ago from The Industry Post:

1. Urbanist Architecture

2. Russian for Fish

3. Studio 304

4. Jestico + Whiles

5. Undercover Architecture

6. vPPR Architecture

7. Glenn Howells Architects

8. Duck & Shed

9. David Collins Studio

10. Mohsin Cooper Limited

All of these are top architecture firms with very different strengths – for instance, we will happily admit that unlike one of these practices, we have never worked on interior design for an ocean liner! (Although we would love to, if anyone’s offering…)

Who we are

Some things you might want to know about Urbanist Architecture:

  • We’re a small London based architecture firm with a young, ambitious team. We know that because we have a hugely popular blog, some people imagine we have a team of hundreds. But those people you can see on our team page? That’s all of us.
  • Despite the fact that we are a small team, we have a wide range of skills. For most of our projects, we handle both architecture and planning. We also pride ourselves on our interior design and urban design work. 
  • We focus on residential projects, but are not exclusively dedicated to designing homes – we’ve also worked on warehouses, offices, shops, a climbing centre and more… 
  • Our strong suit is tricky sites – our combined architectural and planning strengths make us ideally suited to those situations when only a combination of design inspiration and relentless policy and precedent research will overcome the scepticism of the local council.

How we can make life easier for homeowners

Here’s a pledge: if we take on your project, it’s because we want to work on it. We love extensions and refurbishments - you won’t catch us sneering at your loft conversion because we’d rather be working on a shiny high-rise.

Building trust through transparent costs

If you’ve never worked with an architectural studio before, it’s logical to worry about what you are going to be paying for, especially when different firms you are talking to might be mentioning different things. (Have a read of this if you are confused about why you might need separate architectural drawings for planning and building regulations approval.)

We promise that we will always be clear about what you are getting - even if that might make us seem more expensive than some of the other people you will talk to. (And sometimes we will be pricier than them, while at other times it will turn out that once you factor in the hidden costs that might be lurking in other firms’ quotes,  we will be cheaper.)

While we’re talking about transparency, we should be transparent: often we do use estimated fees, because a lot of unforeseen things can happen in a construction-related project. But we will let you know well in advance if we think we are approaching the limit of that estimated fee and will always discuss the options with you. 

Achieving peace of mind every step of the way

If you’ve never had anything built before – or you have done, and it was a bit of a nightmare – you probably want a bit of guidance, and also have one firm do as much of the work as possible. One way to do that is to hire a design-and-build firm – but often that limits your chances of getting a design that is truly yours. Since you came here looking for an architecture practice, you were probably after something distinctive and bespoke.

With Urbanist Architecture, you get the advantages of working directly with an architect – but you’ll also be working with a firm that has an in-house planning and interior design teams.

Yes, there are other firms that offer all those services – but few of them are as small as us. We offer a big-practice range of services but we’ll all know your name and why you want what you want. 

If you want, we can guide you from the first vague idea of what you would like to the end of construction. 

Another plus of having a team that combines planners and architects is that we are always focused on designs that can actually be built. If one of our architects suggests something that is beautiful but probably won’t get approval from the council, our planning team will gently guide them back to something more likely to win permission.

Bringing your home back to life

Our task is to listen to what you want and figure out how to get that for you. RIBA wisely advises architects to concentrate on the outcome rather than thinking purely in terms of building something, and we are strongly guided by that. 

So if we think you could actually get the extra space you need by rethinking your ground floor without actually needing to build an extension, we will let you know.

Honestly, rather than talk about what we can do, it’s better to show you: 

To see more about this project, head this way
To see more about this project, head this way
To see more about this project, head this way

Helping keep you on budget

We can’t make construction cheap – please be very suspicious of anyone who tells you that they can. But we can use our experience to advise on what parts of the process and which materials and fittings it’s worth spending more on, and where you can trim costs without cutting corners. 

From providing a build cost calculator onwards, we promise that we will be constantly aware of how much you will be paying, and we will work to make sure that doesn’t escalate and that you get value for money. 

And if we think your budget is unrealistic from the start, we will let you know that, too. 

How we can make life easier for developers

We work with both experienced and first-time property developers. It varies from project to project, of course, but we find that the people who come to us want to work with an architectural and planning team who are actively trying to solve problems rather than simply supplying a set of drawings or a planning statement. 

Over the last 10 years, we have developed a specialism in residential architecture, specifically for extensions, renovations and new-build developments with a construction value of between £200k - £20m. We have delivered more than 900 projects, for more than 3 million sq ft of development and investment, in excess of £1 billion throughout London and the UK.⁣ 

So what can we offer to make getting something built considerably less of a headache?

Checking that want you want to do is feasible

The most sensible thing to ask at the start of any project is: “Is this possible?” 

There can be planning answers and architectural answers to that question, and we can help with both. 

We give free initial thoughts, but often our clients want a deeper understanding of what’s possible, so we can provide you with a Feasibility Assessment and Planning Appraisal for extensive planning research, massing and layout studies and a preliminary development appraisal with construction cost and residual valuation calculation. In other words, give you early answers to questions like:

  • Can I get planning permission for what I want to do?
  • How many units can I fit on to my site?
  • Am I likely to make the kind of profit I’m aiming for?

Of course, there are many things that can happen along the way that will affect what you actually end up with, but we can provide you with a well-informed first opinion of the potential of your project.

Cutting down on the number of different companies that you have to hire 

A lot of people think there’s a stark choice between working with a big firm who can do everything you need, and a small one who will look after you better but can only often have a limited range of services. The whole idea of Urbanist Architecture is to put our clients in a position where they don’t have to make that trade-off at all.

Yes, when you compare us with other architecture firms, you may think we are more expensive than some of our competitors. But, you are paying for a successful transformational change through creative design and planning strategies tailored to your needs. When you compare us with other architects, you will start to realise that you would have to hire at least five different firms to do what we can do alone.

Just as we can provide you with a multidisciplinary appraisal of the capacity of your site, working from concept to the completion of construction can cut down on the number of firms you need to deal with. We can handle the architecture, planning, urban design and interior design. 

In addition, you can commission us as lead consultants to recommend, brief, get quotes from, liaise and manage the full range of specialists that might be needed. 

We have strong and long-established relationships with many excellent practitioners in fields like structural engineering, MEP engineering, civil engineering, transport and much more. But if you already know who you want to be involved with, we’ll always be ready to work with them. 

Unlocking the potential of difficult sites

Having rigorous and insightful town planners working closely with inspired architects is crucial if you are going to be able to get planning permission on sites where the council’s immediate instinct is to say no. 

What’s needed in those circumstances are radical design solutions to problems like the loss of light for neighbours that still create attractive buildings. That should be combined with thorough planning arguments that anticipate all possible objections from both the council and the public. 

Want some examples? Please have a read about this block of flats on a site with a history of failed planning attempts and this house in a back garden, where, again, we came into after a previous application had been refused. 

Taking the pain out of taking projects to site

Although we built our reputation on getting planning permission for our clients, much of the work we do these days is at RIBA Stages 4-6. You might think our blend of architectural and planning services is less relevant here, but anyone who has experienced the frustrations caused by pre-commencement planning conditions causing endless delays to the start of construction will know otherwise. 

Our architectural team is adept at producing clear and detailed building regulations drawings and tender specifications, but also always in problem-solving mode. We will prepare your project for handover to a builder by creating simple, feasible, and cost-effective designs that meet building regulations. 

This will involve working alongside structural engineers and other specialist consultants to develop detailed tender drawings and full specifications outlining all necessary materials, finishes, fixtures, and fittings for your project.

We’d love to work with you

So that’s who we are and what we can do. If you think we sound like the London architects you were looking for, please get in touch with us today – we’re waiting to hear from you.

Ufuk Bahar, Founder and Managing Director of Urbanist Architecture

Ufuk Bahar

Urbanist Architecture’s founder and managing director, Ufuk Bahar takes personal charge of some of our larger projects, focusing particularly on Green Belt developments, new-build flats and housing and high-end full refurbishments.

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