Welcome to DGA’s New Home

Monday, October 26, 2015

Finally! After months of planning and weathering every anxiety of a big move, DGA has found a new home in Wandsworth’s beautiful Riverside Quarter – which we managed with just one day of down time.

My first couple of weeks in the new practice have been filled with a mix of optimism and trepidation reminiscent of when I first bought my own house after years of student renting.

I had always dreamed of owning my own practice but imagined it would be a renovation, perhaps an old boathouse along the Thames. Instead, I decided on a huge, blank, two storey canvas of concrete and steel. Still beside the Thames, but with entirely different opportunities and challenges.

This fresh start allows me to display the DGA ethos to our clients not just in our portfolio but in the design of the practice itself.

Light, space and interplay between the two are central to our work. Instead of splitting the 7m high space into separate floors, the upper level is an open mezzanine, creating a vast entrance hall flanked by floor to ceiling glass walls that flood every corner with light.

Glass has been used wherever possible – from walls to doors and balustrades – keeping sight lines clear and exposing the scale of the entire structure no matter where you stand.

As striking as our new practice may be, work space needs to more than just pleasing on the eye. Le Corbusier called the home a “machine for living”, where the first priority is uncompromising functionality made to look as beautiful as possible.

I wanted to create a “machine for working”.

The same way a surgeon needs every member of their team to have quick and easy access to all their tools, an architectural practice needs everyone to be able to immediately mobilise to meet the unpredictable demands of our clients and their projects.

This meant stacks upon stacks of seamlessly integrated yet easy to organise storage so that every drawing, document and data sheet across years of projects could be found in seconds.

Smooth operation also depends on rapid communication. The glass walls and open plan spaces allows everyone to know exactly who is and is not available at a glance. When every single minute counts, the last thing anyone wants is to search room after room wondering, “Where on earth are they?”

Being able to design from scratch meant every member of DGA could contribute to the design process, ensuring each team’s space was optimised for their needs and comfort.

Interior design, in particular, benefits from having their own new materials library, letting clients get hands on with the visual and textural subtleties that can make all the difference in perfecting the look and feel of a home.

Meanwhile, my own office is suspended above the entrance hall, wrapped in a glass wall creating the illusion that it’s floating in the air. From here I’m able to oversee the entire practice, as well as enjoy an inspiring view out onto the Thames.

With the surrounding water and high vantage point it’s hard not to feel like the captain of a ship, which I can’t say was unintentional. It’s important to be able to see my team but also for them to be able to see me, hard at work when they arrive in the morning and when they leave.

I’m already sketching out my future plans for the space. With everything up and running, the next step is a bit of decoration. Clean, white surfaces and ample glass give the practice a gallery like aesthetic that’s perfect for displaying art that evokes the spirit of DGA.

Of course, none of this would matter if our clients didn’t enjoy being in the practice. Luckily, the response has been infectiously positive, and now that we have our dedicated materials library and three separate meeting rooms we’re able to involve you in the process more than ever.

So why not pay us a visit? You can find us at Studio 2, Three Eastfields Avenue, Riverside Quarter, SW18 1GN. We even have a jetty for the Thames River Bus just outside, which is a fantastic way to make the journey that little bit more special.

I can’t wait to show you around,

John Dyer-Grimes