ARB Registered Architect

Elegant Design Solutions

Last update Thursday, September 05, 2019



The Roman architect Vitruvius in late 1st century BC defined the essential attributes of architecture as Firmness, Commodity and Delight.   These criteria  are no less valid today and should apply to any style of building from Egyptian to clinical contemporary.


Also spanning time, my working life developed from articled pupil to principal in general practice, which included several fascinating technical roles in both private and public sectors.


I am now semi-retired and seek to apply my experience primarily to that intimate but often diminished sector: the house, home, garden and external works. 


The simplified process of providing the building owner with drawings enabling him to procure the work with a builder is common place, but too often only achieves a dull, disappointing and unimaginative result...


The builder's function is to provide men and materials and not to struggle with inappropriate or badly thought out construction .  My standard of work has been consistently noted by building control and builders for many years and routinely results in further commissions. 


I provide crystal clear and specific information, including explanatory notes where they might be helpful, not only to obtain statutory consents but to enable the builder to proceed with his work with confidence. 



I'm Chris Cooper, a semi-retired architect.   

If you are looking for elegant domestic design, look no further...


With any enquiry we would need to establish the brief; this normally involves interaction through discussion.  This is free of charge.   I subsequently summarise the key points in writing.  Nothing further will be done until fees are agreed.   


Special services (such as those in the right hand column below) would be treated similarly but the subsequent process different.


A brief word on design.  Often misunderstood.  Bad design always represents bad value for money.  Good design is not an optional extravagance and apart from pleasure and function will have quite a significant impact on property value.


Of the fourteen examples below only three carried a premium, two for the materials required by the client.   The other is sited in a conservation area. 


The houses personally self built for our family occupation were both constructed of simple inexpensive easily available materials (top right passive solar house with pool) and top left and below (inverted house with gallery).


Juniper, Old Acre Lane



ST17 0TW


 Typical Topics and Techniques


 Here is a list of techniques and attributes which I feel are too often absent.  In no particular order: Features may be incorporated as appropriate.

  • Providing transitional space

  • Discrete internal surgery

  • Organisation of space

  • Articulation of circulation

  • Proportion and scale

  • Dynamic asymmetry

  • Retrieve the good

  • Eliminate the bad

  • Junctions of extensions

  • Passive design

Other work that  might be of interest:

  • Historic Investigations

  • Archive research

  • Desktop tools

  • Artistic photography

  • Record photography



Fees for architectural work will be chargeable on a fixed scale, based on historically accepted charges and subject to agreement prior to commencement.


In the case of other work a reasonable assessment will be made for agreement prior to commencement.  


Examples of Domestic Design


The 50m2 living room of the Brocton house, inverted, oriented to the cardinal points, natural ventilation system, striking design employing simple inexpensive materials.  Extensive use of porcelain ceramics inspired by villas in southern Europe. The Middleton (Tamworth) house, a classic passive solar design adopted by the Department of Energy in 1986 to precisely measure solar energy contribution. Central sunspace oriented due south flanked by 0.7m deep eaves which controlled summer sunlight and reflect ripples from the surface of the 11m x 1m long pool    

Brocton house showing first floor living space  and central gallery staircase which subdivides the space in to dining, kitchen and lounge segments.  The two steel beams project through the front wall and enable a suspended belvedere.  The floor and balcony floors are at the same level.  An example of transitional space which mediates between inside and outside.

Garden design in Brocton to accommodate steeply sloping bank to the Chase beyond, a gazebo and stream, terraces and steps at intervals articulate what had previously been barren strips of lawn between retaining walls.  The planting was by others, I provided the hard landscape design..  
Brocton Hall basement, an 18thC  listed building here showing how the unsightly plethora of cables, pipes, beer lines and surface tube were concealed by a continuous system of suspended timber and plasterboard service trays to allow linear up lighters reflecting off the 18thC barrel vaults and downlighters at critical points such as steps and junctions. A 1960s bungalow in Brocton converted to a four bedroom house with study and garage added and kitchen day space and dining room extended. The construction required a carefully plotted arrangement of steel beams to support critical points.  
A very unusual house built on a very narrow site in Weston-on-Trent.  The interior is primarily open plan to accommodate circulation requirements, but the WC and staircase were arranged to articulate the space.   The double winder staircase is centrally located and is lit by a 4 x Velux unit roof light which is cleanable from inside.  An 18thC cart shed in Walton-on-the-Hill conservation area, converted to a three bedroom house.  The pillar and void arrangement of the original function is retained but the central spine wall was necessarily removed.  Internally a gallery landing provides a view of the interior. The original roof is retained and a new highly insulated roof piggy backed over it.  
New multi-purpose building at Woodseaves including  manager's flat carried on attic trusses; the detailing of hips, lead roll hips, and flat arch details all reference the nearby main 19thC main house.

 19thC House at Aston by Stone features Haddonstone to make more prominent the status of the entrance door.  Awkward width of historic opening resolved by unequal leaves with glazed panels emulating fielded panels and surmounted by a Georgian design fanlight

. .

Brocton House, a new house next to an 18thC listed building; main characteristics are the stepped roof lines, over-sailing roof to south facing garden room, curved oriel window, flat roof treatment to ensuite, and prominent chimney. Faint echoes of Edwin Lutyens are deliberately referenced.

House in Dorset originally comprising an existing 2 storey 19thC gatehouse disjointedly connected to separate single storey extensions around a small courtyard.  Now coherently combined and spaces functionally re-attributed with large day room (shown). 


Historic Non-Domestic Work



Data Handling Work

The Mail Box, Birmingham was previously the largest postal sorting office of its kind in Europe with a floor area of 95,000m2 and a perimeter footprint of 1km.. 

Built in pre-OPEC 1969 the internal environment proved unsatisfactory.  Dense machinery rendered ineffective heating and ventilation systems exacerbated by large areas of single glazing.

The solution was to replace 80% of the external walls with insulated curtain wall and ribbons of vision panels with control glass.  The 77 page analysis and  report on  corrective measures was co-written by Dr Alan Hildon and myself.

Work on site started in 1980 and finished two years later.

A major national house builder whose  Housing Division was located in Solihull,  required an energy performance assessment system to validate successive house portfolios each of around 100 house types. 


I transcribed the original SAP national domestic energy protocol (Standard Assessment Procedure) to Excel.  House data sets sourced from AutoCAD drawings were coupled through it to non-house specific data.

The system accurately identified the performance of each dwelling in the portfolio by generating league energy tables, and identified critical differences in performance.


Installing high performance glass vision panels to rear of PLSO parcels office

 Drawing showing age of different parts  of construction 15thC-19thC, office building in Sutton Coldfield


Unilever factory in Warrington with defective roof 35,000m2 in area requiring radical replacement design to roof and subsequent contract.  Change from membrane to insulated composite sheet involved a bespoke insulated GRP gutter to 35m wide bays. I used SuperCalc 5 in conjunction with CAD to calculate profile suitable for Code of Practice design conditions. 


Novel temporary mining net suspended protection system design for 12,000m2 high bay production building in Glasgow for Bowater, including researching solution and arranging and monitoring its testing  


Several hundred sets of loss-gain calculations for up-market manufacturers of highly glazed buildings, mainly conservatories, utilizing a modified target performance methodology in consultation with Building Research Establishment, Scotland.

A number of strategic maintenance studies for large Bowater factories at Stockport and Ellesmere Port.  The production halls alone were typically 12,000-15,000m2 in floor area.  


A five year strategic maintenance inspection of a margarine factory for Unilever on a 36 acre Wirral site comprising 86 buildings.


Various projects through Databuild of Birmingham for DTI/ETSU at Harwell, notably the US/UK Energy Performance Assessment programme involving long term measurement of actual solar gain in exemplar buildings, and the later House Design Studies concerning application to real market criteria.


Invited by Faber Maunsell of London, to contribute to the DTI research project in regard to briefing BRAC (Building Regulations Advisory Committee) on Part L in regard to optimal deployment of glazing.

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