Sarah Griffiths and Martin Williams have witnessed the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events from the window of their woodland studio.

There is no denying the pandemic has been a strain, and although difficult at times for us and the practice, it has not been as harsh or as sad as it has for so many others.

Tim Soar’s In practice project is a welcome reminder that a world experience such as this, constantly collected, collated, statistically compressed and shared, is still a composition of real lives that have been directly affected and altered.

We are tremendously thankful to be living and working together in such beautiful rural surroundings where we have been gazing from our studio over a bio-diverse mixed woodland landscape for more than a decade. 

Our small Brick Lane studio provides support, but with changing ways of working our migration to a different landscape has taken on more permanence.

Tim chose this spot for our portrait, when in the midst of lockdown another ferocious storm ravaged much of North Norfolk. The trees that have grown in our small woodland for over one hundred years were heard snapping like twigs, and fell, fundamentally altering the landscape, leaving gaping holes and instantly creating chaos.

Like so many we have witnessed the increase in frequency and intensity of these weather events on a local level, just one consequence of a collective amnesia we all struggle to address.

As architects we build only a few buildings in a lifetime, and how we work together to design these has been re-written by the events of the pandemic. But what we do deliver should be crafted, honest, robust and endure for a lifetime or more. 

We are constantly inspired by our post-war modernist forbears. These buildings, often visually economic and honest, materially underpin how we personally consider aesthetically approaching the challenges of the future, because it is our responsibility to design both sustainably and beautifully.

Our own timber dwelling has endured for nearly a hundred years, But now it’s time to consider it as just one small part of an on-going evolution of the setting. We are preparing to build anew. The fallen trees have now all been milled into planks and set aside, and new trees introduced to re-populate the impacted areas. There is an opportunity here to heal the land by adding something to the land from the land.

Sarah Griffiths and Martin Williams
North Norfolk