Robert Rhodes Architecture + Interiors believe in the emotional power and cultural relevance of old buildings. London is a city under constant change, and extending your house is one of the easiest ways to create a home within the capital. This is often referred to in the press as ‘Don’t Move, Improve’. We care about the buildings we inhabit and believe that London can adapt and evolve to a new meaning whilst retaining integrity and history.
We are in a unique position to advise our clients how to design a building which respects the local area and adheres to the guidelines and restrictions of London planning departments, whether that is listed building status or within a conservation area.
We take a pragmatic approach to advising you, often making recommendations which preserve the integrity of the building but create a design that evolves the building for a future generation. Our work has been included in the Architects; Journal ‘Retrofit Awards’ and the New London Architecture’s ‘Don’t Move, Improve Awards’ for creating schemes which respect the existing building yet create an exceptional design for the homeowner.
About our practice
We love old buildings. We believe in their emotional power and cultural relevance.
We believe in conservation. We believe it is the essence of sustainability.
We believe in cities. We are committed to London as our home. We are excited by the possibilities that lie ahead and what we can do to make London better.
We believe in regeneration, and the value that comes from collective aspiration, effort and investment.
We believe in people. People regenerate cities.
We do it to make the world better, to make our lives better.
We do it for financial security, for a sound investment, for a legacy, and for fun. What better prize is there than a beautiful home, a beautiful office, a beautiful street, a great café, a great neighbourhood, a beautiful city.
We believe in the transformative power of our actions. We believe that if we do it right, it will benefit everyone, forever.
Through careful action we create sustainable assets that build cultural capital and financial reward. Making the city better, one building at a time.
Tips on renovations
If you’re considering a heritage or conservation project, we can help, whether it’s a renovation, extension or self-build. Most new London architecture projects require planning permission from the local council, and we’ve built a successful record securing planning permission for our clients thanks to the successful projects completed across London.
Taking on any kind of renovation project, regardless of the size, can be quite a daunting prospect due to the amount of time and money investment it takes. However, it can be extremely rewarding and in this article, we’ve put together some tips that will help you lead a successful renovation project.
1. Before you start, get a building report. Always commission a building report to get a general idea of how the property is doing.
2. Save money on surveys. Ask your lender whether there’s a surveyor that is on their panel for valuation reports to save money.
3. Prepare a letter to the owner of the house. Obtaining a property for renovation is competitive and a letter to the owner explaining why you’re a better choice can be a great help.
4. Create and stick to a schedule. A schedule will keep you organised so that there’s less chance of overlapping contractors.
5. Check for existing utilities. Radiators, electronics, water and gas are a huge concern and should be kept in mind when renovating because it could greatly impact the cost of the renovation.
6. Be aware of subsidence. Subsidence is the bane of many renovation projects, but it is possible to work with it as long as you check with the seller and their insurers.
7. Examine structural damage. Whether it’s cracks in the walls, damp or rotting timber, make sure you check for structural damage before doing anything.
8. Identify if the property is habitable. If the property isn’t habitable then you may have difficulties getting a mortgage.
9. Keep ground floor bathrooms. It’s far too expensive to replace a ground floor bathroom and it also means you give up a bedroom, so keep them in place and just refurbish them.
10. Examine the exterior. Check the roof, backyard and other exterior areas to see what needs replacing or fixing.
11. Ensure measurements are accurate. Utilise a measured survey to ensure your plans are accurate.
12. If you’re buying at auction, prepare to compete with others. Auctions are cutthroat and you need to be fully aware of the competition involved in renovation projects.
13. Plan somewhere to live. Make sure you have a place to stay during your renovation project.
14. Don’t overestimate your ability or patience. Renovations can take a long time and require a lot of patience so keep a cool head at all times and understand that things like delays and dust are inevitable.
15. Understand the financial implications of a renovation. There are many financial implications during a renovation project so keep things like VAT and insurance in mind.
16. Keep windows intact. Windows are too expensive to replace and should be repaired when possible.
17. Invest in a structural engineer. If your renovation involves many structural changes then a structural engineer is vital.
18. Consider a warranty. Warranties aren’t always essential but will cover the home against design flaws and poor build quality before you invest in it.
19. Keep an eye on hidden costs. Be it reconnecting utilities, cleaning a septic tank or valuation fees, make sure you keep hidden costs in mind.
20. Do you need planning permission? Make sure you check if your project actually needs planning permission or not.
Start your project
Originally from Pennsylvania, Robert studied architecture in Ohio, New York City and Florence, Italy. He moved to London in 2003, working with John Simpson & Partners, Liam O’Connor Architects and Planning Consultants, and Lees Associates Architecture and Design. He left Lees Associates in late 2009 to start what eventually became RRA+I.
Robert trained in the Bauhaus tradition, and as an urbanist in the lineage of Colin Rowe. He also trained in and practiced contemporary classicism, learning the leaders of that movement. He secretly holds onto more of their tenets than he’d care to admit, putting that knowledge, reverence and earnestness to good use – working primarily in sensitive contexts and with listed buildings.
Robert believes that ornament is not crime. He also believes that less is more. He is, at his core, a rationalist, a conservationist and a classicist. Robert is a leader within The American Institute of Architects, serving both in the UK and internationally.
Our curiosity was unbounded, we wanted to know everything about everything. How did anything we focused on become what it was? Process. We would think, talk, and draw for hours on end. We still do.
– Michael Rotondi, founding partner of Morphosis and RoTo Architects
…the unreasoned joy of the simple correspondence of appearance and reality… the evident rightness of things as they are, seen clearly.
– Michael Benedikt, author of For an Architecture of Reality.