Recommended Architects - one of the best ways to find an architect is undoubtedly 'on recommendation'. Here you can find out what our clients say about us.
Working with an architect is a close and unique relationship and it is important that you have mutual respect, trust and above all good chemistry with your architect. When employing any professional consultant, such as a lawyer, accountant or doctor the outcome will be much better if you have a good working relationship with an honest, open dialogue. An architect needs many tools in his or her kit to produce a successful outcome. It is much more than being a good designer; a diplomatic personality is required to negotiate the challenges of the planning system, an honest communicator to work well with builders and craftsmen.
Overall an architect needs to be really efficient to work quickly and meet the varied demands of everyone involved during the lifespan of a project.
James Wells is proud of the fact that many of his clients return to the practice with new projects. When we were based in London, handling more commercial work, our team undertook the design of 14 new restaurants for Giraffe and refurbished a further 12 sites for them. In addition James led the design work for seven new office refurbishments for The Office Group.
James has designed in excess of 130 new homes - fifty new build houses for developers and the other eighty being private homes, refurbishments and new builds. There's virtually nothing James has not addressed when it comes to kitchen and bathroom details; understanding drainage or how to ensure a beachside property can withstand its hostile location of salt, pounding rain and driving wind. James' safe pair of hands will guide you through the plethora of material choices, which paint finishes to choose and where to best locate fitted shelving.
If you have met James you will realise he is not particularly extrovert by nature, preferring a long country walk or reading the latest issue of The Architectural Review. He also dislikes self-congratulation and is certainly not keen on 'blowing his own trumpet'.
Most of our current work in Sussex is now residential. Being aware that many residential clients will only employ an architect once, we thought it would be helpful to offer an insight into some recent projects and the process. In this news piece we have asked previous clients what they think of our work and what it is like working with James.
Listed Farmhouse and Outbuildings
This client came to James Wells Architects after their first architect had achieved planning permission on two elements of this site's development. James took on the schemes and developed the design to produce construction drawings for the building company Nicholls Countryside Construction. The Pool House was subsequently commissioned during the progress of the conversion of the small barn into a studio and workshop.
"All three projects are in the curtilage of our Listed Farm House and planning permission obtained by JWA for the modern pool house was a considerable achievement. I would recommend James for his thoughtful design, the proportions of the rooms just work, my family and guests love being in the new spaces. This matched with his calm and competent attitude to the building process and his can-do attitude make James and his team a pleasure to work with.”
The refurbished historic buildings have been interlinked through the careful insertion of two new build garden buildings – one a historic reconstruction, the other a minimal modern pavilion all in the two acre curtilage of a listed farmhouse, interlinked with hard landscape features. Spectacular long distance views across the North and South Downs can be enjoyed from a multitude of viewpoints in this beautiful landscaped setting. The buildings include a small barn repurposed as a photographer's studio; a stable repurposed as a hobby workshop; a large barn built in salvaged local stone and oak recreated as a gym with home office and library space over; and a new swimming pool enclosure. The garden setting and planting scheme has been completely redesigned to suit the new use of the estate.
“One year later, I frequently stop and appreciate the many excellent ideas and improvements, small and large, which James brought to the design of our house.”
This existing fifth floor apartment was completely remodelled to offer private accommodation on the fifth floor with the addition of a new sixth floor; the new upper extension is a light filled sunroom for entertainment spaces that spill out onto a generous, planted roof terrace. The design has a cool, contemporary feel throughout. Great care and attention went into accommodating the complex structure and services.
This results in a clean and uncluttered finish – the ideal backdrop for the clients’ library and art collection. A number of features were specially commissioned for the apartment; including the crystal drop chandelier, the sweeping staircase with glass balustrade and the rosewood joinery wall which separates the entertaining spaces from the private quarters below.
“What I liked about working with JWA was that they aimed to help us build our home. Not the home they might have built for themselves. They succeeded.”
“When this project was finished, it was in fact, truly finished. We moved in and that was that. JWA’s attention to detail is exemplary.”
Grade II Listed Strawberry Hill Gothic Castle Refurbishment
JWA was commissioned to design a scheme for the refurbishment of the central section of the house which dates from 1805 with six bedrooms, the stair hall and the original principal reception rooms. The interior was in poor condition with the original entrance hall stone floor remaining badly damaged from the war years and evidence of decades of leaks, floods and rising damp. Listed building consent was sought, negotiated and granted for a round of internal structural alterations, mostly ‘unpicking’ poorly conceived twentieth century subdivisions in order to reveal the original majesty and proportions of the rooms.
“James Wells did a great job for me on a refurbishment project in 2018. The job involved new electrics, lighting, plumbing, heating, kitchen, bathrooms. He did the design, managed planning, sourced the builders, helped source fittings and made sure everything was on track each week through the year's work. It all went very well and I am delighted with the result.”
A new purpose made kitchen was installed in one of the restored principal reception rooms to deliver a spectacular result for this West Sussex country retreat.
This project won a Sussex Heritage Trust ‘Highly Commended’ Award in 2019.