Tag Archives: paul Zara

Inspiration for architects: Jason Hawkes’ aerial photography

Paul Zara, head of Conran and Partners Brighton, just brought to our attention the wonderful photography of Jason Hawkes.

Jason Hawkes

© Jason Hawkes

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Friday Tip: Make your own kind of Munich

The Olympic flame will shortly be wending its way through Kent. To mark the occasion, UCA Canterbury is holding a very special exhibition of graphic design.

Munich 72 legacy 2

Will London’s legacy be this pretty?

This week’s tip comes from Paul Zara, head of our Brighton architects. Continue reading

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Bright Light city

Our latest architectural project, The Light in Brighton, has just been given the go-ahead.

The project will turn the former ice rink in Queen Square into The Light ApartHotel, featuring sumptuous guest rooms, serviced luxury apartments, a café and a restaurant. It will be a further boon to Brighton’s tourist industry. Continue reading

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Hoverhauling Brighton

Excuse the pun, please.

The head of our Brighton architecture office, Paul Zara, took to The Argus recently to talk about Brighton and Hove’s acute housing crisis, and his opinions on how to solve it.

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Architecture awards left and right

Left and right – or rather, east and west.

Hot on the heels of being shortlisted for a Housing Design Award Conran & Partners, our architecture team, are at it again.

They’re in the running for two categories of the Asia-Pacific Hotel & Property Design Awards, both for the stunning Hotel Icon.


A Conran team led by Richard Doone (Managing Director, Far East) and Tina Norden (Associate Director) developed two dining areas for Hotel Icon, a 262-room teaching and research hotel in Hong Kong owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The Market is an informal food court and restaurant, inspired by traditional Asian food markets. Above & Beyond is incorporates a fine dining Chinese restaurant, bar, lounge, and private dining rooms.

Hotel Icon is shortlisted in both the ‘Bar/Club/Lounge’ and ‘Restaurant within Hotel’ categories.


On the other side of the world, Conran and Partners’ new development on the site of the old Brighton Astoria cinema took the gong for Best Development at the 2012 ACUMEN Commercial Properties Awards.

Paul Zara, head of Conran’s Brighton team, headed the project, which will create Brighton’s greenest ever offices (the go-ahead was given by Brighton’s Green Party-led council). The plans include a rainwater harvesting system, natural air ventilation and solar shading.

As the judges put it,

“[The Astoria] will create much needed business space and jobs for the growing creative and culture sector in Brighton & Hove. The [architect’s] intention to supply employment space located on a sustainable corridor close to Brighton Station and the edge of the North Laine is spot-on.”


Well done all round.

EDIT: the Asia-Pacific Design Awards site now features an interview with Richard to accompany the nomination.

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Four years on: Our Brighton architects lead the way in housing design

Four they are jolly good fellows! 

This week sees the 4th birthday of the Conran and Partners Brighton studio.  Despite the recession kicking in soon after opening, after four years of trading the studio has doubled in size.  The team has had some very significant London successes, including winning the project to redevelop Green Man Lane in Ealing to create over 700 new homes for A2Dominion/Rydon, to helping L&Q on their plans for the former Walthamstow Stadium. Most recently they won the project to redevelop the listed Lillian Baylis School in Lambeth.

Green Man Lane

A vision of Walthamstow stadium...

Sketch for Lilian Baylis School

In Brighton the team is working on the redevelopment of the Granada Cinema site on Portland Road in Hove for Affinity Sutton, further refurbishment of Embassy Court, the modernist landmark on the seafront (top of page), an amazing house on the beach in Hove, proposals for an apart-hotel on the former ice rink site in Queen Square and the city’s greenest office building on Gloucester Place.

The latest on the Queen's Square development

Lee Davies and Paul Zara lead the 18-strong team and are confident about the future, despite the state of the world.  

“The demand for housing is so great that it must eventually kick-start growth.  We have an excellent track record locally and nationally and are well placed to assist our clients in moving their projects forward…

Paul Zara

Lee Davies

It’s been a very interesting four years, and I am very proud of the team we have built, they have strong skills and we are ready to take on any challenge that comes our way!”

Long may they continue..!

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Conran: Debating our housing crisis

Given the current housing crisis in the UK, it’s useful to look back to the great decade of housing around 50 years ago. 

In the book “A Decade of British Housing 1963-1973” the period is reviewed, lessons are learnt and the future of housing is debated. 

At that stage only 6% of housing stock was made up of the output of the new voluntary housing groups (now called housing associations or RSLs) and by the end of the period architects were starting to look at a numbers of issues including reducing car use, shared surfaces, the end of fossil fuels, prefabrication, off-site timber frame construction and lack of land – so in many ways very little has changed!

The big opportunity that we are currently exploring is really about putting right some of those mistakes made 50 years ago.  

When estates like Green Man Lane in Ealing were built they were the great hope for the future: optimistic 1960s living, with all the facilities you needed – shops, GP surgeries, nurseries, and a post office.

But a mixture of bad design, bad management and poor construction meant that many of these estates had a limited lifespan.  At the time they met a need – slums were cleared away and bright airy new flats in the sky were the solution!

They in turn now offer a new solution.  Estate regeneration allows us to take a fresh look at these places.  Sometimes they need total demolition, with a complex plan for “decanting” residents, buying out or doing deals with leaseholders. 

And sometimes all or part of the estate can be refurbished.  Good buildings should be restored and re-used, despite their problems. Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens in East London is iconic and should be cherished. Look at the wonderful Park Hill in Sheffield saved by Tom Bloxham’s Urban Splash.

The result, if it works, can be high quality high-density urban living with multi-tenure housing serving diverse communities. 

When working with residents on an estate I always tell them that my hope is that, when complete, their estate effectively disappears and is replaced instead by streets, squares and courtyards that are part of the city and part of the community.

I think we’re getting this right  but we need to sort the issues around densification – we need schools, surgeries, shops, workplaces within easy reach, or ideally within these developments.  

But the architecture has to be the best possible too – and that’s where “tenure-blind” architecture comes in to its own.  If you need to sell flats and houses then the whole development must be good.  No more affordable housing in the worst part of the site!

We are producing good affordable housing and we are providing some of the greenest housing in the UK, with better space standards than many private developers, though we still build some of the smallest flats in Europe.

We looked at this issue of density over two decades ago at Butlers Wharf. It’s now a new city quarter with houses, flats, shops, restaurants, offices, a nursery and a museum.  It set new standards for urban living.

And now we are doing it again at a similar scale in Ealing, Walthamstow and other sites around London. 

These developments, when they are large enough and have a critical mass, can change our city for the better, and we can show that we have learned from history and can make places that work!

 Paul Zara, Director, Conran & Partners

Read more about our work on regenerating London’s housing estates here: www.conranandpartners.com

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