Every project starts with a question—What if?
What if the places in which we live and work could make us healthier and happier?—Improving lives through better design. What if we could create beautiful buildings that work for the environment as well as for us?—Cleaning the air we breathe and generating more energy than they use. What if we could make spaces that everyone could enjoy?—Creating diverse and inclusive environments. What if we designed our cities for people to cherish and develop the places in which they live?—Building a better future for generations to come.
What if we worked to achieve all of this?—We do.
We’re idealists. We came together as three young architects to set up IF_DO in 2014, and we saw no end to the possibilities. We chose our name because it said something about the power we have, as architects, to do things differently.
Since then, we’ve worked closely with clients and communities who share our aspirations. We’ve forged positive relationships across the industry, and we’ve been rewarded with responsibility and trust. And, with projects like the Dulwich Pavilion and St Teresa’s School, we’ve shown how imaginative architecture can begin to shape people’s lives.
It’s not just the three of us around the table now, and our stage is bigger. We have a team of carefully chosen and like-minded colleagues. We’ve built up an impressive track record. We’ve won competitions and awards to show we can compete amongst the best. And with our clients and collaborators, we’ve begun changing the world, project by project.
We’re quick to get down to detailed analysis and research. We question, test, explore and imagine. We sketch and make models. We’re happiest developing our ideas alongside ambitious clients, and we work collaboratively and openly. We listen to communities to make sure we understand what they need and what will work best for them. We make everyone a part of the process.
It’s a pragmatic and pro-active way of working which sits well with our idealism; we’re improving people’s lives through better design. We’ve lost none of the hope and determination we had at the start, and our conversations – with each other and with our clients – are as full of energy as they were on that first day. We know, more than ever, that buildings can do so much.
We call this ‘the ripple effect’, and it’s at the heart of our approach. Thomas’s TEDx talk back in 2017 put this into words we all stand behind: ‘Buildings have ripple effects. Buildings affect the communities around them, they affect the economy, and they impact the environment.’ In short, we take our responsibilities as architects seriously.
People often ask us about our name, and we enjoy telling the story of how it came about. Those two short words express our hopes for the future and our purpose. They’re a reminder of how we began and where we’re headed. What if? We do.
Al combines the perfect balance of imagination and pragmatism, and he’s fascinated by the path from one to the other, or – in more architectural terms – from initial sketch to finished building. For him, the craft and ‘buildability’ of architecture is crucial, and he led the delivery of the Dulwich Pavilion, the project that has perhaps done the most to show what we are capable of when we bring conceptual thought and technical ability together. But for Al the real success of the project lies in the impact it’s had on everyone who’s visited, and the positive contribution it’s made to the community.
Al is committed to increasing the socio-economic diversity of our profession. He is an RIBA mentor to architecture students and is involved with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the Social Mobility Foundation, helping create more opportunities for young people from all backgrounds.
Sarah is a firm believer in collaboration – amongst colleagues, with clients, with stakeholders, and with the people who will be enjoying our buildings for years to come. She’s brilliant at finding a way through competing interests to come up with a design that works for everyone, and this kind of determined diplomacy was one of the key ingredients in the transformation of a dilapidated structure near Waterloo Station into a vibrant community hub.
Sarah feels strongly about sharing our knowledge and experience beyond the practice, and she has taught at both the University of Brighton and the London School of Architecture. She is a chapter leader for Urbanistas, a women-led network devoted to supporting and encouraging women working in the built environment, and is passionate about the need to make architecture a more diverse and equal profession.
Thomas is a big-picture thinker and masterplanner by nature. He has a wide-angle view on every element of our work and sees connections that might not be immediately obvious. He’s also a great communicator – both in person and on the page – and his TEDx Talk on ‘Architecture’s Ripple Effect’ is the perfect introduction to how we think and work.
This interest in the wider repercussions of architecture goes hand in hand with an interest in sustainability and creating healthy environments. He’s drawn to working on projects where IF_DO can make a positive and far-reaching impact. He was the driving force in making our work at St Teresa’s School so rewarding, both for us and for the school, by involving the students in reshaping their school for the better, and inspiring them with what architecture can do.
Jodie joined IF_DO in 2019 after graduating from the Mackintosh School ofArchitecture. Her thesis project titled ‘Strangely Familiar’ was nominated for the RIBA Silver Medal and was selected to be exhibited at the RSA New Contemporaries Exhibition, 2020. She is interested in the material and craft of the social city, particularly in the texture of the city, and how playful abstractions of familiar entities can create fresh perspectives.
Jodie is part of the team for a number of projects, including IF_DO’s interventions at London County Hall, and the practice’s transformation of the Observer Building, Hastings.
Jack believes collaboration and sharing ideas are key to the architectural process. He enjoys helping clients to visualise projects and has brought a range of projects to life through model making, testing light, tectonics and scale. Jack has worked on a number successful competitions at IF_DO and has played a key role in recent new build housing.
Jack joined IF_DO in June 2017 following graduating from Nottingham Trent University with First Class Honours where he was nominated for the RIBA Bronze Medal.
Sebastian is interested in how architecture can improve the everyday life of the individual and the community. He enjoys drawing and making things with his hands, and is a firm believer in the power of people and collaboration.
Sebastian joined IF_DO in February 2019. He received his BA (Hons) from Kingston School of Art in 2018, and has previously been involved in urbanism planning and development in Mexico, as well as working closely on projects in London and Switzerland.
Ellie is passionate about the potential that architecture and creative spaces have to generate new, life-affirming experiences for the people interacting with them. She joined IF_DO in 2018 to help the practice continue to grow and develop.
Ellie was previously Head of Communications at Dulwich Picture Gallery where she conceived of and managed the Dulwich Pavilion project for the Gallery. The success of the structure and the events it supported in welcoming new audiences solidified her belief in the power of good architecture to create joy.
Will believes in community driven design and is particularly interested in the life cycle and legacy of architecture. Will has run a range of projects at IF_DO from intricate residential commissions to larger public projects including works to a scheduled monument in Suffolk. He takes care to consider the practical use and evolving future life of each design to ensure that buildings work hard for the people within them long into their occupation.
Will joined IF_DO in 2017 after graduating from the CASS School of Architecture with a DipArch, having previously gained a BA (Hons) from Kingston University. He has gained a wide range of experience having worked in a diverse variety of practices both in London and New York.
Geethica is a highly skilled designer from inception through to technical detailing, and enjoys close collaboration with stakeholders and the wider design team through every project. She worked in both Berlin and Copenhagen during her training.
She has run a number of projects at IF_DO including the design of a new build house in Suffolk, and the exhibition design for the Klimt / Schiele exhibition at the Royal Academy (October 2018). Geethica joined the IF_DO team in 2017 having graduated from The Bartlett, University College of London with a BSc (Hons) in Architecture, and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture with a MA in Architecture.
Education Estates, School Project of the Year 2019, Shortlist (winner not yet announced)
Sunday Times British Homes Award 2019, Home Transformation of the Year, Shortlist (winner not yet announced)
AJ Small Projects Award 2019, Shortlist
Don't Move, Improve! 2019, Shortlist
American Institute of Architects UK, Young Architect Award 2018, Winner
The Architecture MasterPrize 2018, Educational Buildings, Winner
Civic Trust Pro-Tem Award 2018, Winner
FX International Design Awards 2018, Breakthrough Talent of the Year, Winner
AJ Architecture Awards 2018, School Project of the Year, Shortlist
Architizer A+ Awards 2018, Pavilions, Shortlist
Haringey Design Awards 2018, Best House, Shortlist
D&AD Awards 2018, Spatial Design/Installation Design, Wood Pencil
American Architecture Prize 2017, Small Architecture, Winner
American Architecture Prize 2017, Installations and Structures (Landscape Architecture), Winner
Blueprint Awards 2017, Best Small Project, Winner
Wallpaper* Architects Directory 2017: the world's top 20 emerging practices
AJ Architecture Awards 2017, Budget Project of the Year, Highly Commended
Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award 2017, Shortlist
Evening Standard, The Progress 1000: London’s most influential people 2017