There can’t be many more prolific practices than Lipton Plant Architects. Ed Lipton discusses stand out projects, combining the past and present, and evolving in Angel

We are on ‘set’ at the latest project being undertaken in the Angel area by Lipton Plant Architects. Ed Lipton, Creative Director and one of the founders of the architectural practice based on Moreland Street, points out that the Georgian home on one of Islington’s finest terraces, behind Angel, will be a wonderful addition to their portfolio. ‘This will eventually be a restored and uniquely transformed property including a substantial basement dig,’ he offers us a little sneak preview. ‘We’d like to think the original builder of the house in the early 19th century would really appreciate its transformation. It will raise the bar in Islington.’


That last statement is certainly saying something. Established for over 13 years now, Lipton Plant Architects have, it’s fair to say, been busy in the area in which they have been based since day one. ‘We are very proud of the extent of work that we have completed in the borough,’ Ed says of projects in Islington. ‘With over 400 schemes completed, the number is rising at pace. We have put over 300 proposals through the planning department, which puts us at the forefront of Architects in the borough and has allowed us to build a strong relationship with the planning department.’

Don’t presume, however, that this is simply a constant churn of standard projects; Lipton Plant Architects has quickly become the byword in quality in architectural circles, with a host of award nominations and wins increasingly part and parcel of the business. One such winner was a Victorian villa in Canonbury, a unique project that serves to highlight what they can achieve with Islington’s period properties. ‘We called the project “Brick and a half” due to the choice of brick for the extension and its unaltered restoration internally but contemporary rear addition,’ Ed smiles.

The Resident: A recent project in HighburyA recent project in Highbury

‘In short, the brief was to refurbish the property entirely, bring it up-to-date and extend to the rear. Our clients wanted to restore the main fabric and original elements and add an addition to the rear, and amend the form to improve access to the garden, and also landscape the rear. This project aimed to eschew the idea that adaptations to a historic building needed to be “in keeping” to be successful. Here, a modern extension opens up to the rear of the property, using contrasting blue slate brick work to separate the old from the new and enhance the existing structure. The bold ground floor extension is topped with glass, which forms both a study space and walk-on glass roof terrace accessed through a door, disguised to appear like a traditional sash window.’

Does Islington, and its abundance of historical properties, throw up particular challenges? ‘A lot of the challenges we face are London-wide, rather than just Islington specific,’ Ed considers. ‘But in Islington, in particular, the sites we work on can be very tight. The properties can be narrow and split over many levels – they tend to be quite high density with relatively small gardens. It’s a challenge to adapt them to the needs of the 21st century. The challenges are generally set by the planning authority and our 100 years of combined experience and skill will allow us to adapt to any challenge.’

The Resident: Swing House, adapted to meet 21st century needsSwing House, adapted to meet 21st century needs


Key, Ed points out, is their approach. ‘We work very closely with our clients in identifying and interpreting their needs. Dialogue is a key ingredient in Lipton Plant Architects’ approach to how we run our practice, it affects every aspect of our business, the creative process, and the relationships we evolve and invest in between colleagues, clients, through to councils, consultants and contractors. We make “dialogue architecture”, not “monologue architecture”.’

As attentions turn back to the Georgian townhouse scheme, we end our conversation by looking at why Lipton Plant Architects found a home in Angel. ‘Our studio was founded in Islington, we have remained here and have expanded and moved through an eclectic mix of office buildings, from a shared artist studio to the oldest building in Islington, to now a glass box on top of an old chapel,’ Ed recounts. ‘Although we undertake projects all over London and beyond, we find Angel to be an ideal base. It feels at the forefront of what’s great about London. It’s very today, right here, right now. Diverse, successful, entrepreneurial, cosmopolitan, a genuine mix, rich in centuries of evolving architecture, culture and history. There’s constant development and change – and it’s wonderful to be a significant part of that and to be helping shape the area’s latest chapter.’

The Resident: The happy Lipton Plant Architects’ teamThe happy Lipton Plant Architects’ team

Words: Mark Kebble

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