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Verity Lovelock

Verity Lovelock on purposeful architecture

By Verity Lovelock

Architect - BBD Architects

Designing from the inside out is the architectonic approach of Verity Lovelock, having initiated her love for architecture when studying interior design at the University of Portsmouth.

But Verity also designs with purpose: understanding the people living in and using the buildings and creating with aesthetical and sustainable longevity.

Her people-focused design is complemented by her partner Laurence who specialises in the technical construction details at their architecture business BBD – a practice that is passionate about residential design for both private clients and developers.

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How would you describe your style as an architectural practice?

We very purposefully don’t have a style. For us, the style is always different from project to project because it's never about us – it's about what's right for the client and what’s appropriate for the site and its surroundings. We’re very client-led.

What are some highlights from your portfolio of projects?

At the moment one of my favourites is a beautiful detached 1970s architect-design bungalow that we are refurbishing with a mid-century modern vibe: we’re bringing it back to its former glory with some contemporary twists.

I love working with existing buildings; I really enjoy extensive refurbs – there are more challenges, they're interesting, and often people have chosen that house because there's something they love so you're looking to continue that feeling. The way I view architecture is about how someone feels in a space.

We also worked on converting a commercial building with some historical significance in Portsmouth into townhouses – that was lovely to work on because it was creating quality living spaces from an existing building whilst keeping some of the historical detail.

We work a lot in the New Forest. We have worked on a small development in the National Park for two new build houses, which were made to look very much in keeping but the way they were built was incredibly sustainable, using more modern methods of construction.

We love that kind of challenge – something with a bit of interest; something that's very bespoke or complicated that needs a bit of problem solving.

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What’s your design process?

We provide a complete end-to-end service – from design and planning to technical drawing and support on site.

For our private clients, we start by providing a brief writing toolkit for them to input as much information as possible – it might include places they’ve stayed that they loved, places they’ve seen locally that they like, and outline pain points in the house such as dark areas.

At the first design meeting, we’ll have collated our ideas and have four or five different options based on the clients’ likes, dislikes, the space they have, and the budget they’ve got. The client will then feedback on the elements that they like, and we blend those – it’s a very collaborative process.

How do you think sustainability synergises with architectural design?

I think sustainability comes down to building responsibly because everything we build is going to outlive us. Every decision that you make has to be purposeful, and not a tick-box exercise.

We are part of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge – as architects, we’re encouraged to talk to our clients about sustainability and how they can retrofit to upgrade their homes and improve sustainability.

I think the key to good sustainability is in the planning and when we’re designing spaces, we have to know that they work for future occupiers. They need to be good quality living spaces, providing people with a happy place that they want to look after: and that secures the longevity of the home in another way.

"I think sustainability comes down to building responsibly because everything we build is going to outlive us."

How is the built environment evolving in terms of design and trends?

On an individual residential level, there are lots of different trends but on the mass-build residential level, nothing’s changed for a very long time and I don’t think there has been enough progression. It’s sad because the style isn’t purposeful, and it doesn’t reflect the technology and materials that we have available to us now.

Throughout time you can see distinct trends and they come from the vernacular of the local materials that were available at the time. But now that you can obtain any material from anywhere, we’ve lost a bit of that vernacular.
I love working with developers because I really think that we need more well-designed homes and future spaces that people are going to live in.

What has been your experience as a woman in the industry?

I feel like I have a unique perspective in the industry as a woman: equal representation is important when you’re designing a home.
I remember being told by a career advisor at school that I should do something else because they saw architecture as a man’s profession. I don’t think anyone would say that now, but I think there’s still a bias there and there are still very few women in architecture. We’ve still got a huge pay gap and positions of authority are still taken away from women – there’s still a very long way to go for the industry.

Lots of women drop out of the industry because the time that you qualify often coincides with the time in life that you’re thinking about having a family. There’s an unhealthy culture in architecture of working long hours and it’s certainly something that we keep in mind running a practice – everyone should be going home and doing the things they love and spending time with the people they love.

"I feel like I have a unique perspective in the industry as a woman: equal representation is important when you're designing a home."

Verity Lovelock - Architect, BBD Architects

How do you fuel your creativity?

Being an architect is a real vocational thing because it never stops. When Laurence and I go anywhere we’re always talking about the architecture: the creative brain never stops thinking.

I feel most creative when I spend time outside, like when I’m walking or kayaking. But often I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and make note of it; I’ll start a Pinterest board and go with it.

To drum up creativity we design a lot as a team – that’s fantastic because it keeps the creative dialogue going.

Which architecture and surroundings are you particularly appreciative of?

I love architecture that incorporates nature. When I was at university I specialised in architecture and landscape. I love making sure that you’ve got enough green space and connection to outside.

Verity Lovelock