Practice expands fivefold in as many years, making it one to watch

Architectural Practice of the Year

Sponsored by Comar


“Outstanding” and “exciting” were how the judges chose to describe Astudio - a worthy winner of this competitive category. A relatively small practice of 22 staff, it reported exceptional financials. In five years the firm has grown from just four employees and has delivered a 15% increase in UK operating profit over the last three years and a 19.8% increase in total income, including from oversees work, over the same time period. Set up to be a sustainable practice, Astudio has a research and development team - in addition to its in-house environmental engineer - to work in conjunction with Greenwich University and the AVATAR Group to develop a range of living technology CO2 absorbing façade systems. Judges were impressed by this level of innovation. The firm has recently been invited to its first international paid competition in Paris after the success of a number of its most recent international projects. These have also seen the practice win the MIPIM Big Urban Project and the International Property Awards for Best Public Building. Judges said this was a firm with its finger on the pulse and one that was “generous” in giving advice to others. One to keep an eye on for colleagues and potential clients alike, then.

Runners up

David Morley Architects

This practice displayed rock solid financials for 2011. It posted a 24% turnover increase and 47% rise in operating profit over the last year. In the last three years the firm has seen a 64% rise in operating profit. It focused on its presence within healthcare, education and sport.

Hudson Architects

This is one of the most exciting architecture practices outside the capital, reporting a 53% increase in turnover over the last three years. It is focused on high-end domestic projects while also expanding into larger-scale residential, community and education projects.

PCKO Architects

Last year the firm celebrated its 30th anniversary as well as opening an office in Shanghai, representing an ambitious move into the Chinese market where it has already won new commissions for a 150 hectare masterplan in Chongqing.

Ryder Architecture

The projects Ryder has delivered over the past 12 months reflect an architecture practice at the top of its game, one example of which is the Renewable Energy Academy for Newcastle University. It has also joined forces with the University of Northumbria to provide BIM consultancy.

Stanton Williams

This practice has won more than 10 awards over the last 12 months - a real testament to the firm’s designs and delivery. Last year, the firm worked across education, research, culture, sports and leisure, residential and project realm projects for both private and public clients.