East is an award-winning architecture, landscape and urban design practice. We work on a wide range of projects, including housing, masterplans, community and workspace buildings and public spaces, all aimed at enabling places to be positively experienced, environmentally sustainable and accommodate diverse needs. Based in east London, we have an international reputation for designing in the specific context of places. We have worked extensively across the city, as well as throughout the UK and Europe since we started practicing in 1995. The directors of East are Julian Lewis, Judith Lösing and Dann Jessen.
We strongly believe that an architectural project is able to have impact beyond its own physical extent. Designing into existing neighbourhoods, making the most of what is already there across spatial, cultural and economic parameters, allows us to design buildings and landscapes for our clients that add value beyond the scale of the specific intervention in terms of placemaking and benefits for the wider community. This approach, designing housing, work and community buildings alongside landscape and public realm projects, often in close collaboration with local stakeholders and communities, creates long lasting neighbourhoods and is key to our success maximising values for our clients and winning planning permission for all projects that we have worked on.
We have taught, published and exhibited widely over many years, alongside our excellent track record of award-winning projects developed with both private and public clients. Recent clients include Stanhope PLC, Landsec, Notting Hill Genesis, British Land, Barratt London, L&Q, TfL, Camden Council and Hackney Council.
East also excel in collaborating with other architecture practices and disciplines, enhancing value for larger architectural, urban and masterplanning projects in terms of clear placemaking design narrative.
Background and approach
East actively prioritises work of public relevance, from landscapes to community and educational buildings to housing projects. One of our first projects, nearly 30 years ago, was to improve Borough High Street, for Southwark Council. The project enabled us to think from first principles about how to devise and prioritise a brief for improvements to a busy street that is flexible and resilient. The experience not only helped prepare us for designing public spaces, but was also instructive in helping us develop residential and public buildings in ways that were successfully engaged with their surrounds and local communities. Whether we design buildings or open spaces, the aim is the same; to work with our clients to shape the experienced city for the pleasure and convenience of all. Often this is played out across the ground plane, but it can also reveal itself in the glimpse into a passageway, the particular width and colour of the stripes of a shopfront’s awning that gives you shelter in the rain or a door handle that is pleasing to touch.
Collaboration and Social Value
East is led by three directors, Julian Lewis, Dann Jessen and Judith Lösing. Each director is responsible for a specific project, but all directors contribute to the design development of each project through regular design reviews and close critical working. This brings benefits to the client in terms of the quality of each project being enhanced through critical review.
Julian is one of the Mayor’s Design Advocates, Honorary Fellow at Nottingham University and a member of the Newham and Harrow Design Review Panels. Dann is a member of the Tower Hamlets Conservation and Design Advisory Panel. Judith is a supervisor at the Bartlett School of Planning, a member of the Harrow, Hounslow and Islington Design Review Panels, and is on Hackney Council’s Regeneration Design Advisory Group (RDAG).
Two senior associates, Richard Hall and Cécile Solnon, provide research and technical support to the office. Richard supports East’s academic research including contributions to Oase magazine, Drawing Matter and The Architecture Foundation. Cécile is East’s BIM coordinator. Senior architect Ed Farleigh leads on East’s sustainability research.
There are currently 15 further members of East, together providing a skilled cohort of architects, architectural assistants, landscape architects, and technical and administrative support. All projects are led professionally, with transparency and appropriate Quality Management procedures adhered to at all stages. Due to our diverse staff, we can curate project teams according to the needs of the client and the brief.
We are a diverse practice; our staff are from a wide range of backgrounds, with a 50/50 gender mix. We are clear about promoting equal opportunities for our staff. We are encouraging opportunities for younger people through our academic collaborations with London schools of architecture, providing work placements, mentoring and teaching. On a day-to-day basis we open up dialogue about architectural and urban design to all staff within our office, as well as our clients, students, and collaborators, as well as in community engagement and co-design processes.
We want to deliver social value that is meaningful and specific to each and every project we work on. We believe it is essential to engage people and proactively open up perspectives and opportunities while designing and implementing socially sustainable urban projects. For us, this means tailor-made processes and 1:1 participation by team and community members alike. We spend a lot of time on and around the places we work in and actively ensure that time is made for all voices, as well as space for views that are not always the most immediately obvious.
In taking a clear view on the value of communities, and the uses that drive our projects we design we have developed a distinctive attitude to sustainable design. This starts from a careful survey of what is found on a site and around it — what to keep, improve and what to reuse. We are interested in design that reuses what already exists in ways that can evolve and be reshaped over time. Our award-winning temporary park at Brent Cross is an excellent example of this.
We seek an economy of means when prioritising material choices; this includes minimising embodied carbon, as well as seeking ways to source, reuse and recycle materials. We apply Passivhouse and LETI principles in anticipation of a zero-carbon future.
We are experienced in designing projects aimed at managing water across some of London’s increasingly challenging flood plains and many of our residential buildings and landscapes are spatially influenced by water management requirements.
We also understand the urban role of non-residential uses in sustaining community vitality, including the social and economic value and resilience of production and making. Additionally, we are experienced in understanding how uses can be spatially managed to enhance the value of buildings and places.
There is a pressing need to mitigate the social and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which has limited social interaction and quietened high streets whilst also highlighting the lack of access to green and open spaces for many. As contributors to the Mayor of London’s Public London Charter, we recognise the value of expanding London’s Public Realm to ensure that projects can become integral to the wider city. We can help stimulate local economies through encouraging close dialogue about places and recovery, looking at how communities and spaces can be supported with good design, and how design can be nimbly defined and allocated to enhance the impact of limited budgets. Our experience includes working on projects at all scales and stages, from engaging with places and their communities, to detailing high quality implemented outcomes that require minimal maintenance while maximising resilience and flexibility.