St Michaels and All Angels Church Restoration

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Last week JTA enjoyed a guided tour of St Michaels Church in Blackheath.

The church, constructed in the1830’s, is nearing the end of a £1,000,000 restoration project which was funded largely by donations from the local community. 

Our guided tour took us all the way to the roof where we could appreciate intricate restoration work completed to the external decoration by Fullers Builders and also enjoy stunning views over south east London! Work has been done internally to improve usability making the space more suitable for a variety of community events other than regular worship services.

To see more detailed images of the restoration head over to 

Many thanks to Carolyn Watkins for taking the time to guide us around. We are very much looking forward to visiting again upon completion. 


The Principles of Thermal Bridging

Added on by Jo Townshend.

In May JTA attended a Green Register CPD hosted by Pollard Thomas Edwards which looked to explore the principles of thermal bridging and help designers understand the best way to detail the building materials they specify.

Matthew Brooke-Peat, Course Director for Architectural Technology at Leeds University, kicked off the afternoon session by introducing the group to thermal modeling techniques of bespoke construction details.

After Matthew had run through the issues that can arise from poor detailing, Pollard Thomas Edwards’ Head of Sustainable Design, Tom Dollard, held a detail revision workshop where each delegate was given the opportunity to trace over some standard window, roof and floor details and, using the information we had picked up earlier, try to reduce the risk of thermal bridging in each detail.

With the revised details pinned up on the wall of the conference room the group was whisked back in time to the days of architecture school by carrying out an informal crit of each other’s ideas and discussing the decisions behind the amended drawings.

Tom was able to advise how best to improve the buildability of each detail by considering the constraints experienced by builders on site and the limitations of the products available on the market today.

This interactive CPD was a refreshing alternative to simply reading slides from a projector as it allowed us to practically apply the information we had been taught and reflect on the relationship between marks we make on a drawing and the performance of the final built fabric.

Many thanks to Matthew and Tom for sharing their expert knowledge.



Open City - Architecture in Schools Programme

Added on by Jo Townshend.

In early March, Jo Townshend Architects took part in Open City's Architecture in Schools Programme. A group of year 5 students from Eltham joined the JTA team along with Valeene Preddie from Bell Associates at The Conservatoire in Blackheath to learn about scale and architectural drawing conventions.

The students were taken around the Grade II listed Music and Art buildings before discussing the importance of structure, the joy of materiality and the range of emotions that different spaces can present. After finding various elements of the buildings to draw in plan, section and elevation, the students drew around each other and used scale rulers to recreate their lifesize drawings at scales of 1:10 and 1:100. 

The students produced some brilliant drawings and were rewarded for their hard work with delicious chocolate brownies, provided by Martin from the Brockley Deli.

We were very pleased to have been invited to take part in this event by Open City, understanding the importance of providing education through practical activities in real working environments.

The crossover between art, science and maths didn't seem to put off any of the students giving it their all and two went away with the decision made that they were going to be architects when they left school!

Many thanks to Sophie Draper from Open City for inviting us to take part in the event.




Maggie's Barts Architectural Visit

Added on by Jo Townshend.

This morning the JTA team visited the most recently completed Maggie’s Centre, which opened within the grounds of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London in December 2017.

Each Maggie’s Centre provides free support for people affected by cancer via specialists including benefits advisors, nutritionists, therapists and psychologists.

The tour, which was organised by the Friends of Blackheath Halls, began in the kitchen with a warm welcome from the head of the centre, Michael Harrison.

The contrasting raw concrete and bamboo ply interior finishes provide a very warm and secure sense of enclosure in a building which from the outside expresses complete permeability, being dressed almost entirely in glass.

Architect Steven Holl has done an excellent job of carrying this concept through the entirety of the purpose-built centre, which draws you in and up to a peaceful rooftop garden via gently curving stairs, past discreet break-out spaces and private meeting rooms.

The sensitive nature of the site, being surrounded by numerous heritage buildings, prolonged the planning process of the development; the end result, however, is a complete success. The unashamedly contemporary centre not only sits respectfully on the historic site, but also provides modern services for it. Maggie’s in-house Architect Diego Alejandro Teixeira Seisdedos explained that the St. Bartholomew’s Maggie’s Centre has been designed to include a fire stair, lift and additional toilets for the adjacent Grade-I listed Great Hall.

As with all Maggie’s Centres, this building offers a new take on providing a welcoming and comforting space for palliative care. Steven Holl has produced a well considered environment which avoids the clinical nature of most care centres yet doesn’t push the sense of homeliness into parody.

Many thanks to Friends of Blackheath Halls for arranging the site visit and to Michael and Diego for taking the time to show us around.

An Evening at Walmer Yard

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Last week JTA were lucky enough to be invited to an evening at Walmer Yard; four interlocking houses crafted around a small courtyard in Notting Hill, designed by architect Peter Salter and developed by Crispin Kelly. 

The event was to show thanks to those who contributed to Open City’s Architecture in Schools Programme in which Jo Townshend Architects took part, tutoring a group of year 5s from Eltham in the principles of scale and architectural drawing conventions.

We were blown away by the level of consideration that had been applied to produce a space which used interplay of materiality, light and colour so successfully. Every corner turned provided delight and wonder, something we should all strive to achieve in residential developments!

After Peter Salter gave a speech describing some of the design decisions behind the project, visitors were invited to take part in a treasure hunt around the four houses, with each hiding space providing a question for an architectural quiz!

This fun activity, fuelled by an excellent selection of drinks and nibbles, provided a great way for us to explore every nook and cranny (and secret staircase!) of each house as well as mingle with architects from other practices.

With the quiz answers and impromptu animal/plant based design schemes handed in, the Open City team announced the results. JTA came away with a very proud second place and a lovely goody bag to boot!

Hats off to architect Peter Salter and developer Crispin Kelly and many thanks to Sophie Draper and the rest of the Open City team for a great night.


JTA Enter The Modern House Directory

Added on by Jo Townshend.

We are very pleased to announce that JTA has been selected to feature in The Modern House directory of Architects and Designers in recognition of the numerous Eric Lyons Span housing projects that we have worked on in London.

Click on the image below to visit the Modern House website and scroll through our Span House portfolio.

Open House at The Conservatoire

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Open House London promotes the appreciation of architecture within the general public and its annual Open House weekend, which began in 1992, provides an opportunity for anybody to look around buildings that are usually out of bounds.

Usually at this time of year, JTA staff are flicking through the Open House brochure and planning their routes across the city. However, this year we decided to team up with The Conservatoire in Blackheath to show off the Grade II listed building that we work from, the oldest surviving purpose-built cultural complex in London.

The Silver Anniversary of the Open House weekend was a busy one with over 800 buildings opening their doors. In total, around one hundred building fans came through The Conservatoire buildings to take part in our architectural tours, family workshops and drop-in consultations.

The tour groups were walked through each floor of the Music and Arts buildings, discovering beautiful architectural design as well as stories of the colourful characters that occupied the various spaces in the past 120 years. These included Lady Superintendent Miss Mary Botting, young music student Kate Bush, art tutor James Woodford and the Royal Air Force to name but a few.

Overall the day was a great success as it allowed us to meet with building enthusiasts from near and far and show off JTA HQ! Further details of the building can be found on the Open House Highlights webpage.

Next year we hope to join forces with the Blackheath Musical Halls to provide a bigger Open House weekend event, so be sure to build it in to your 2018 route plan! 

Special thanks to Art Tutor Kirsten for her craft expertise in the family workshop and to Tuition Administrator Chris for his unbeatable knowledge on the history of The Conservatoire.

My Work Experience - Wiktoria Kaminska

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Throughout the whole week of my work experience I gained more knowledge on the basics of architecture and thus acquired a few new skills to do with the general design of buildings.

One of the first things I did which was unfamiliar to me was surveying. I learnt that it intially consisted of visually gathering information from a particular site and recording the drawing in a technical manner. This then lead to the further development of my understanding of how to accurately record the information and also, importantly, how to work my way to getting the right measurements of various aspects of the drawing I was producing. It did take me a while to sketch more technically rather than express and emphasise that I was drawing freely but in the end when I improved bit by bit I was okay with what I did.  Once that was completed I was faced with the task of using a new software to digitise the information using Computer Aided Design. It was very challenging for me since I never really have formed or even thought of presenting projects through the use of technology. Consequently though, I did successfully design an elevation and confidently manage to create a drawing.

Not only that, I had the pleasure of actually visiting a building site. I saw demolition work and observed the way the building was stripped back to its structure. Overall I greatly enjoyed my time and I am thankful for the opportunity I had.


Fantastic Bedroom Designs Workshop!

Added on by Jo Townshend.

After the success of our 'Architect Your Bedroom' workshop earlier this month JTA held another day of activity based learning, this time for a younger group of children. On 15th August we welcomed a group of 5 - 11 year olds along to the Blackheath Conservatoire to reimagine their bedrooms based on fantasy themes and adventure tales. We were taken aback by the outstanding level of creativity that each student summoned and decided to share with you some of the physical models that were produced by the end of the day. Many thanks to Maggie, Verity and Kay who assisted throughout the entire day!

2017-08-15 14.00.38.jpg

Architect Your Bedroom!

Added on by Jo Townshend.

On Friday 11th August JTA welcomed a group of 9 to 14 year olds along to the Blackheath Conservatoire to learn how to think and draw like an architect.

JTA's George Holland gave an overview of architectural drawing conventions before the budding designers were given the opportunity to redesign their own bedroom. By using the tools they picked up in the session, each young creative came away with a plan and a perspective drawing of their proposed scheme.

Many thanks to Kirsten, the art tutor on hand, who helped the students produce some brilliant drawings by using a range of interesting materials and techniques!


Blackheath goes to Bow

Added on by Jo Townshend.

We recently became Friends of Blackheath Halls and were delighted at what was on offer, particularly from the Architecture Group. We decided to join a tour of Bow School by James McCosh the project architect from Van Heyningan & Haward Architects.

After a clear introduction to the project, how it came about and points of interest about the design and the construction, we were given an in depth tour of the building (which even included getting stuck in a lift – an opportunity to  experience the capabilities of the school’s maintenance team? – I am not sure if they lay this on for all architecture tours).

The building incorporates two large atria providing the school with central focus points and organisational cores with visually engaging yellow clad concrete staircases.

The concrete structural wall system preferred by Bouygues, the main contractor, was left exposed, ostensibly for cost reasons, which along with the exposed electric and tele-communication cabling provided a robust aesthetic.   However the honesty and clarity of these moves felt totally appropriate for an education establishment.

James explained that this project benefited from an informed client, and that this, along with a design team and contractor, each bringing their individual expertise to the table,  were able to work towards a shared  vision.  This collaborative approach appears to have paid dividends with this highly successful building.

In summary, a great school, and a great place to learn to become a member of society and a great afternoon for us.  Huge thanks to the Friends of Blackheath Halls Architecture Group, James McCosh of Van Heyningan & Haward Architects and staff at Bow School.

Portland Place Rotunda

Added on by Jo Townshend.

As part of the on-going refurbishment works at 82 Portland Place, JTA have worked closely with specialist architectural metalworkers Acorn Restorations to return the Rotunda roof light to its former glory.

The roof light required urgent maintenance and suffered from previous poor restoration including mismatching glazing. The roof light would also be required to carry the weight of the new bespoke chandelier.

JTA approached Acorn Restoration and through a number of conversations were able to establish a strategy for the strengthening of the fitting to take the new pendant. Together JTA and Acorn Restoration were able to establish which panes were original allowing the roof light to be reinstated as was originally intended.

The roof light was finally reinstated following a break in the weather in the new year, and are nor ready to receive the new light fittings by Michael Anastassiades. 

Christmas Celebrations and Self[ie] Reflection

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Crossing the meridian line from JTA's home in balmy Blackheath; we filled up on Cuban sandwiches blowtorched in the Greenwich Christmas market and, as has become the JTA tradition, connected with west London via the Thames Clipper quenching our thirst on the way with a drop of bubbly. We spotted a couple of JTA interventions at high street Kensington before checking out the new home of the Design Museum by John Pawson and OMA. The former Commonwealth Institute building's restored hyperbolic paraboloid roof bulges into the minimal atrium space like the belly of an architect in late December. Food, drink and some laughs at the Comedy club rounded up what has been a barmy year and so we look forward to a 2017 bringing bigger, better and barmier times.

Jo treasures Blackheath Village Day

Added on by Jo Townshend.

We architects are fascinated by community and how it is created and nurtured.  The failure of many of the social housing experiments of the last century, some providing all the necessary tick box elements to create decent places for people to live, work and play demonstrated that this is not necessarily enough to provide the necessary social cohesion and specialness of place that makes a real community and is ultimately so difficult to define and achieve.

We are so lucky here in Blackheath to have a beautiful, historic village centre, great local shops, wonderful green open spaces, good transport links, great housing and streets, art institutions to make it a great place to live and to help create a strong identity providing all the good foundations for a sense of place and community.   Events like Blackheath Village Day bring people together to celebrate all of this and like a reconstructive memory help to nurture and cement that sense of community.   Without such events it could be so easy for that special feeling to wither away.

On a more personal note, what a privilege to have an opportunity to work with talented artists, musicians, chefs, operations and marketing managers from The Blackheath Halls and The Conservatoire.  Working outside of our usual bubble of the construction industry in this way keeps us creative, light-footed and flexible, open to new ideas and ways of thinking and operating.   It gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our own sector and practice.

Staircase Design

Added on by Jo Townshend.

We'r looking forward to this replacement handrail and balustrade being installed over the next few weeks into one of our west London projects - Phil Ryan will be installing it - Good luck Phil!

Celebrating the Autumnal Change

Added on by Jo Townshend.

It was another classic JTA day out (we were finally allowed this year!) criss crossing London on foot and the Thames Clipper which was well accompanied with drinks and curry. The day crescendoed into an intensely fought battle of darts between Max and Aaron and a snooze on the tube.

We were celebrating Max's exciting new move toward becoming a freelance designer. We also celebrated Joe's new Associate role, Andy Hedger becoming a new member of the team and wishing Aaron the best of luck as he moves with his girlfriend to Dublin.

Programs and critical paths

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Here's a critical path diagram we've developed in Excel. It's not complicated but we like it, we use it to program in our work stages but this Youtube clip is showing how a contractor could use it on a small job in order for us to track their progress. Let us know if you want a copy of the file.

Grove Hall Court - Coming together

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Our interiors project in west London mansion block is coming together rapidly with some fantastic workmanship from Martin, the joiner, and Sed, the metalworker. We're very proud of it and can see the big unveiling rapidly heading towards us. And it is lovely to see the original marble restored too.

Sophia Awaritefe - Work Experience

Added on by Jo Townshend.

Sophia Awaritefe

Work experience with JTA

It’s been an informative and eventful week with the JTA team. An eye opening experience at what could potentially be my future. I feel as though I have gained a great amount of knowledge about architecture, but I still have a long way to go. I have learnt many useful things this week like, what plans and sections are and how to draw them, how to use CAD programs like ‘SketchUp’ to make a 3D model of your drawings and ideas and I’ve even discovered this new thing called Pintrest.

 I must admit there have been one or two experiences that made me think of reconsidering a career in architecture like lengthy meetings and spending long amounts of time on your feet. But work can’t always be fun, sometimes it’s about getting things done to the best of your ability, and the JTA Team have helped me learn that this week.

Anyway, I just want to say thank you and show my gratitude to the group of people who, over the past 5 days, have given me the knowledge I need to make important decisions in the future. Thank you to Jo, Joe, George, Max, Louise and Frankie, It’s been a pleasure working with you all. Unfortunately you have all failed in your mission to deter me from becoming an architect, sorry.