Studio

Ström Architects is a contemporary architecture practice based in the New Forest. We specialise in unique modern homes, but also have experience in larger-scale residential schemes, and the arts sector.

The practice was founded in 2010, and since then the practice has grown in size and in reputation: we have been recognised through various awards - both nationally and internationally. Our work is mainly UK-based, but has also expanded to include projects in Europe and America.

We are a small office, but with a lot of passion for what we do. Being small means that we can offer a personal service to our clients, and we take pride in the positive, lasting relationships that we create.

At Ström Architects we operate an efficient team of staff. We offer a range of skills and experience in different areas, and we work to ensure the most appropriate mix of resourcing is assigned to each project.

We strive to achieve both efficiency and consistency in how we staff projects; this gives our clients confidence in a stable team structure, and fosters a successful professional partnership.

Our non-hierarchical open-plan studio used to be home to the Lymington Times Printers, and the white painted brick interior has a relaxed Scandinavian vibe about it. We take pride in our office and how it creates a comfortable work environment.

Once a week we all sit down to eat lunch together, taking turns to cook a meal and enjoy a more informal lunchtime chat. We also regularly host “Friday Fika”, building on the Swedish tradition of making time to share a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, with colleagues. At these Fika sessions we have a brief presentation by one of our team or external guests – very much like a ‘show and tell’ – about something that inspires us. This approach is not only healthy for office morale, but to our design skills. By sharing ideas and our interests, we ensure that we remain educated, engaged and invigoured – and we believe that this is reflected in our work.

The studio is located in the coastal town of Lymington, near Southampton and Bournemouth. We love where we work with both the New Forest and the Solent on our door step. The connection to nature is important in our work, and we practice what we preach.

We are 30 mins from Southampton Airport and our location allows us to work all over the UK, as well as internationally with current projects in Sweden, Spain and the US.

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1. We get to know our clients

Each of our clients have their own dreams and drivers behind their project. To develop the brief, we don’t just have to listen to our clients, we have to understand them. This understanding forms the foundations for a successful project.

2. We tell our clients’ story through design

Our understanding allows us to be in tune with our clients’ dreams. Design is the narrative that tells their story, and reflects their personality.

3. We take away worry and risk

Embarking on a bespoke one-off house invariably has elements of worry and risk. Through experience we know the typical risks, and identify project specific ones early on in our involvement.

We have an excellent planning record and we work collaboratively with the local Planning Authority, encouraging them to take ownership of the project with a design that becomes a local exemplar.

We produce extremely thorough Technical Design documents; this process ensures that all decisions are made up front, rather than forcing hasty decisions on site. Through careful planning we guide you through the project to ensure that the decision-making process doesn’t become overwhelming. We remain closely involved during the construction stage, with inspections to ensure the quality is in line with the Contract Documents and the best outcome is achieved.

We will always be straight with you regarding cost. We have a good understanding of the costs involved in building a bespoke house, and we work with an experienced cost consultant with whom we have done numerous projects. We keep an eye on cost throughout the whole process. Detailed cost information at an early stage ensures that you - as well as the project team - understand the cost constraints to ensure the viability of the project. We believe that it is irresponsible to promise you the world, with a budget and design that are out of sync.

4. We offer intangible qualities in our buildings such as reprieve in a stressful world

We bring value to you that goes beyond simply owning a high quality contemporary house. We create places where memories are made, that nurture relationships and that bring joy. Our designs connect with nature and offer intangible qualities – such as reprieve from a busy world, or a feeling of being ‘home’.

5. We love what we do, we’re good at it, and we deliver it

As architecture goes, the one-off house is the most rewarding building we can work on. We love the direct relationship between our clients and the houses we design. What we love even more, is how we are able to transform the way clients live, and the difference we can make to the quality of their lives.

The relationship between architect and client is extremely important, and we place great significance on rapport and engaging on a personal level.

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Let’s add something here about cost at the end of the text – “Whilst we would love to be able to work project of all sizes and budgets, our size and operating costs unfortunately dictate that we cannot realistically undertake projects with a construction cost under £500,000. It is important that we are open and honest with clients from the outset, and we hope that you understand our constraints.

It is hard to give generic advice on what a new build one-off contemporary house will cost to build as there are many variables affecting this. We would typically advise that one of our house designs starts at around £3,500/ m2, but can quickly go north, depending on the site, location, design, specification, and what one actually includes in this cost. We would also advise that you may want to consider an allowance for fit-out (built-in furniture, curtains and blinds, loose furniture etc.) and landscaping.

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Our fees vary depending on the size of project, complexity, and our offered scope of work. Typical fees range from 8-15% of build cost.

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We get to know our clients to understand and develop briefs We tell our clients’ stories through design We take away worry and risk We offer intangible qualities in our architecture such as reprieve in a stressful world We love what we do, we’re good at it, and we deliver it.

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Our work is mostly based in the UK, but we have several international projects with work in Sweden, Spain and the US. We love to work in all different environments, and do not see location as a restriction on where we work.
It depends! We have delivered projects from first client contact to handover in less than two years, which is quick for a highly bespoke one-off house. We can normally deliver a design up to and including planning consent in 6-9 months. To complete Technical Design and tender the building/ choose contractors typically takes 6 months. The construction period is around 12-14 months. We always produce a programme at the start of the project and continually update this throughout the process.

We provide full architectural services from inception to completion. Our services are offered at three different levels; Good, Better and Best. All levels provide the same design quality and scope of work up to an including Planning Consent. For Technical Design our service structure offers flexibility for our clients. ‘Good’ offers Full Technical Design, Procurement and on-site services ‘Better’ is the same as above, but we do detailed drawings and specification of kitchen and bathrooms etc. ‘Best’ offer all of the above, plus interior design, bespoke joinery design, selection of furniture, a physical model as well as photo-realistic computer generated images.

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Most clients come to us when they already have a site. The majority of our projects are on sites where we are demolishing an existing house. In many ways, this makes life easier, as the principle of development is already established. There are also websites such as www.plotfinder.net , and there are land agents and individuals who specialise in sourcing land and property suitable for development.
It may sound obvious, but choose an architect whose work you admire. Don’t just assume that a local architect will do a better job because they have local contacts. Secondly, go and visit your architects’ office and meet with them to discuss your project and your aspirations, and listen to how they propose to guide you through the process and deliver your home from start to finish. Finally, choose an architect/ team that you like and have good rapport with! You will work closely with your architect over a long period of time and it is important that you share the same aspirations for the project and get on as human beings!

Sustainability

We don’t claim to be ‘eco-architects’, as we don’t believe that such a thing should exist. All designers have a responsibility to consider the environmental impact that their designs have – whether that be during construction, during the building’s lifetime or at the end of its lifespan. Sustainability is inherently part of our design process. We integrate it without fuss – rather than allow it to be a primary driver of the design.

We start with passive ways in which our designs can be more environmentally conscious, before looking to renewables. These technologies have their place, but it is essential to get the basics right first.

We use an energy hierarchy as an effective way of reducing building carbon emissions:

  • Be mean: reduce the demand for materials, energy, water and other resources 

  • Be lean: ensure that materials and systems are used responsibly and efficiently 

  • Be green: supply any remaining energy requirements from renewable sources

These considerations are second-nature to us, allowing the first principles of sustainability to be immediately integrated into the basic design. We can then look at introducing technologies to boost a building’s credentials.

The desire for a certain level of sustainability can be assessed early-on during the briefing stage, so that the client’s aims can be integrated in the most appropriate way.

To assist us, we often work with Sustainability Consultants to evaluate options and help develop proposals to suit each project.

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