Month: September 2018

Navyard Regeneration Proposal

We have just completed our most successful year since our inception as a practice 21 years ago, and in celebration we would like to share with you some images from a unique project we are currently involved with in Harwich, Essex.

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At Navyard we are promoting the re-development of an existing 10 acre container port into a new mixed-use development that will help regenerate the beautiful, but disconnected Old Town. Our scheme takes the form of a new extension to the town, comprising 320 dwellings; a small selection of Cafes, and flexible new public open space that can cater for a mix of events including farmers markets and local theatre. We are publicising the development through a two-day exhibition in the town that commences on Friday this week, seeking local opinion on the proposals.

Green Street

Green Street

Gaunt Francis Project Architect, Miranda Dettwyler, expressed: “The proposal for this site is to create an addition to the town of Harwich, taking the grain and density of the existing place, but populating these new streets with a modern terrace architecture, focusing on high-quality public space and maximising views to the sea.

“This is a sympathetic use for the site that would create a series of new and important public places in Harwich, while also greatly improving current flood defences”.

Northern Promenade

Northern Promenade

Mann Lines, who currently operate from the site, will be re-locating their business locally should the proposals of the site be approved by the council.

Bill Binks, CEO of Mann Lines said: “Navyard has served us well for over 50 years but with the nature of the shipping business ever changing it’s time to re-locate locally to enable us to build a stronger business in the future. The regeneration of the Navyard site is both an exciting and important opportunity for Harwich. With our close association to the town over many decades the views of the community are important to us in helping to shape the future plans for Navyard.”

Click here to watch a short fly-through animation of the proposed regeneration.

GFA sponsors local football team!

We are delighted to be sponsoring St. Albans mini football team, which will fund the teams’ waterproof training tops for the next 2 years.


The team rocking their Gaunt Francis waterproof hoodies.

Toby Adam, Director at Gaunt Francis Architects expressed, “We are thrilled to be sponsoring the Under 11’s mini football team. My son, Noah, is on the team and has been a core member for the past 4 years, of which I am extremely proud”.

Nicknamed ‘The Buns’, the team play mini football, which is slightly different to league football. The WFA have set out rules and regulations, in which instead there are rolling subs, no referee, no offside, and the goals and pitches are smaller.


With the season running from September to May, the team train every Wednesday night in Tremorfa Park and Splott, and play 7-a-side against 3 other teams every Saturday –  a total of 3 matches of 20 minutes each. We wish the boys the best of luck for the season!


The team in action!




RIBA Client Adviser

Gaunt Francis Director, Toby Adam, is an accredited RIBA Client Adviser. With over 20 years of industry experience across a range of project sectors, Toby is able to offer strategic advice and guidance to clients to assist in maximising the value and quality of their projects.

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A RIBA Client Adviser, who is a highly trained and experienced Architect, will work with the client’s team helping to manage the design process from its earliest stages, and will help define and deliver the best long-term solution for their organisation, one that will fulfil all the aims and requirements of the project.

The UK Government recommends the early appointment of an independent client adviser (like a RIBA Client Adviser) to provide high level expert advice and to help protect the client’s interests.

RIBA Client Advisers are selected by the Royal Institute of British Architects from its membership for their all-round procurement expertise, design experience, business knowledge and track-record of delivering results in construction projects.

GFA staff take part in charity cycle ride!

On Saturday 15th September some of the staff at Gaunt Francis Architects took part in the Giro D’Capitale charity cycle ride in support of Wooden Spoon Wales – a charity event organised by Capital Law.


The GFA team! – (from left) Rachel, Sophie, Bianca, Katja, Alan, Ken, Phillip and Toby

Wooden Spoon is a fantastic charity that aims to positively change children’s lives with a disability or facing disadvantages across the UK and Ireland through the power of rugby. Their rugby heritage drives their core values of passion, integrity, teamwork, and fun. They fund around 70 projects every year including community programmes and medical treatment centres. They have been established for an amazing 35 years and have distributed over £26 million to more than 700 projects, helping more than 1 million children.


All ready for the ride!

There was a choice of two cycle routes around Cardiff and the Vale – a 30 mile route for intermediate cyclists and a 50 mile route for advanced cyclists. The cycle ride was followed by some well-deserved food and drinks back at the Capital law office.


Half way point!

Every year, Capital Law employees vote on a charity to support, and this year Wooden Spoon was chosen. All money from fundraising throughout the year  – such as cake bakes and sport events –  went towards the total funds raised for the charity. Each rider received a free top, water bottle, wrist band, water before and during the ride, as well as a curry and free bar after the ride.

A huge well done to everyone who took part in this cycle – it was for a great cause, and an incredible £2,978 was raised for Wooden Spoon. 

A few pictures of the team in action!

Gaunt Francis gets involved in ‘Shape my Street’ Project

Earlier this week, Ffynnon Taf Primary School in Taff’s Well, South Wales, came to our offices in Cardiff where we got involved in their brand new project.


GFA Director, Alan Francis, talks about life as an Architect

Following the enthusiasm and engagement from the Welsh School of Architecture’s ‘Shape my Street’ project, which they won last year, the staff at Fynnon Taf decided to turn it into a full curriculum project. Year 5 and 6 pupils have been asked to submit a proposal for a brand new development of homes on their school field site in Taff’s Well. The proposal includes designing an individual home and collaborating with others to create a new community incorporating their designs.

Head teacher, Matthew Worth, expressed, “This is an exciting project for our fantastic pupils. We want them to experience all the positive and enjoyable elements of the design process, as well as to challenge them with ethics, environmental issues and conflict from the existing community of Taff’s Well.”


Alan explains the pupils’ project brief

The morning started with Gaunt Francis Director, Alan Francis, giving the pupils and teachers a brief tour of the office, to allow the children to see how real life architects work in a live practice. This was then followed by a chance for the pupils to ask Alan any questions they may have had.

Alan then introduced the project brief to them with a PowerPoint presentation, in which he gave plenty of guidance on how to approach the brief. For the first part of the project, the children have been asked to design a home and think about 6 key themes: Form, Function, Materials, Transparency, Adaptability, and Environment. The second part of the project is to design a new community and, again, have been asked to consider 6 key themes: Patterns, Density, Space, Movement, Community, and Ecology. As Alan continued to go through the project brief, the children were very enthusiastic and asked plenty of questions in order to help them prepare.


The pupils were keen to ask many questions

This project comes after a new curriculum guidance was introduced, and as such pupils are encouraged to undertake projects where all subject areas are mixed together in a holistic approach to learning . The pupils will have until the end of November to complete and present their designs. A group of architects, environmental experts and members of the local community will view the presentations before selecting a winning submission later this year.

We at Gaunt Francis can’t wait to see what these brights students come up with!

The Architecture of Paris

The city of Paris – a beautiful place filled with some of the most famous architectural masterpieces in the world such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, and the Louvre. Let’s face it, they’re the first place a tourist is going to go to capture that perfect picture for Instagram. But the people who really love architecture tend to travel in a slightly different way, which is exactly what Gaunt Francis architect Kim did.

Kim developed a passion for post-war architecture during her studies, having been tutored by architect and academic Professor Pete Salter. As a keen photographer, Kim is able to capture some stunning images, which she actively posts on her Instagram page – BetonBrut. Kim spent 3 days discovering some true hidden gems around the city, in areas which a typical tourist isn’t likely to explore as the most striking examples of Parisian Post War architecture are found beyond the ‘Périphérique’ in the zones that saw rapid expansion in the second half of the twentieth century.

Her first stop was the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles.

Centre Pompidou.jpg

Centre Georges Pompidou

The image, taken by Kim, is the Centre Georges Pompidou, commonly shortened to Centre Pompidou. It was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and British architect Richard Rogers. The project was awarded to the team thanks to an architectural design competition. It was the first time in France that international architects were allowed to participate.

It is named after George Pompidou – the President of France between 1969-1974 and officially opened in 1977. Located on 19 Rue Beaubourg, it is one of the most iconic building in Paris and houses the Mussée National d’Art Moderne which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. Its exposed skeleton of brightly coloured tubes for mechanical systems was the beginning of a new era of architecture and is a must visit.

Ivry-sur-Seine - 02


Kim’s next destination was Ivry-sur-Seine in the Parisian banlieues. It is an 8-buildings complex and is a 60,000 inhabitant municipality that sits on the South East periphery of the city, known as an ‘Banlieues Rouge’ due to the repeated election of a communist mayor. As such the municipality has significant emphasis on social and affordable housing, with the most radical elements designed by the Architect Jean Renaudie alongside his wife Renée Gailhoustet. . The three buildings ‘Danielle Casonova’, ‘Jeanne Hachette’, and ‘Jean-Baptiste Clément’ are named respectively after a Communist resistant to the Nazi occupation, a 16th century French heroin and a member of the 1971 French commune.

Ivry-sur-Seine - 08


France has a long tradition of state social housing intervention. In 1775 the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans was built to accommodate workers.

Renaudie’s Ivry-complex is made up of 40 social dwellings, offices and stores which are mixed on different levels composing a almost pyramid structure. Nearly forty years after its construction, the freshness of the proposal remains intact, even if people who live it often don’t know the futuristic aim of the project. The oblique angles and the green element shaped the strategy to lighten the presence of concrete, in order to mix nature and architectural structure.

Ivry-sur-Seine - 04


Kim’s last stop was to the suburb of Créteil to see the housing blocks known as Les Choux de Créteil (The Cauliflowers of Créteil) – a name given due to the unusual shape of their balconies. This unique structure is a group of ten cylindrical towers, where each building stands 15 storeys high and was designed by the Architect Gérard Grandval, and completed in 1974.

The project was recognised as a “Heritage of the 20th Century” from the French Ministry of Culture; at the time the work was regarded as a symbol of 1970’s French architecture. The buildings’ unique shape is intended to be functional; the apartments’ living spaces are closer to the windows, and the 2-meter-tall balconies provide outdoor access and privacy at the same time. The round balconies were intended to evoke gardens and seasons.

In 1998, the municipality opted to upgrade the area. The central sprout, largely dedicated to families of precarious means, was rebuilt. To encourage social intermixing, the leaders dedicated a fourth of the apartments to students.

What remains striking with regards to these two projects are their unique approach to special organisation, both constructed to be symbolic centrepieces.