Translation Architecture is a design and research studio experienced in hospitality and retail design with a keen interest in heritage, retrofit and low energy strategies. Led by Nicholas de Klerk and Sze Wei Lee, the studio brings together extensive international and UK experience on a wide range of project types, scales, and budgets.


The name Translation Architecture marks the studio’s commitment to internationalism, openness, and collaboration in practice. In our projects we aim to expand the ambit of design to embrace a more holistic form of practice. The retail and hotel projects that we tend to work on generally have many stakeholders and collaborators and accommodate a high number of uses. This plurality is something we embrace as it enables us to explore the use and performance of our buildings designed as places for people.


We actively encourage the re-use and adaptation of existing buildings and materials where possible and see the design, construction and use of these spaces as a continuous process of translation. We engage with clients early in the development process, helping to identify and evaluate potential projects, undertaking feasibility studies to explore the potential of a space, building or site, often at pre-acquisition stage. This level of curiosity and interest is maintained throughout the design process, working from the urban scale right through to the detail design of furniture and joinery. Every project is an opportunity to develop relationships with the client, consultants, contractors, local community and other stakeholders. We value these relationships highly and see each project as a deep collaboration with all project stakeholders. This enables us to stay responsive throughout the design process and keep refining the project as we progress. 

Who we are

Nicholas de Klerk

Founding Director


Nicholas is a UK qualified and chartered architect with 20 years’ post graduate experience in the UK, the Middle East and South Africa. His experience includes a wide range of projects including hotels, retail, housing, offices, museums, and galleries. In the hospitality sector, his experience covers both urban and resort projects, new-build and conversion, with budgets ranging from under £4m up to £500m.


He has led both architecture and interior design projects and has a deep understanding of the interrelation and coordination of the two design disciplines which is critical in hospitality design. He is also experienced in the UK planning process with both new build and conversion projects, specifically in sensitive heritage contexts.


Nicholas is an RIBA Chartered Architect and registered with the Architects Registration Board (UK).  

Sze Wei Lee



Sze Wei has 17 years of international post-graduate professional experience in the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Australia. She has a flair for design, a keen eye for detail and a talent for resolving challenging logistical, strategic, material or visual problems. Her experience covers a wide variety of building typologies, scales and sectors from hospitality to residential, retail to commercial office both in new build, conversion and listed building contexts. Equally at home in a concept presentation and detailed technical discussions, Sze Wei will ensure the consistent implementation of a design project from concept to completion.


Sze Wei is an RIBA Associate Member. 

Hotels and Sustainability

Over the last fortnight, I have taken part in two panel discussions as part of the Festival of Hospitality, a month-long series of events in London put together by the team at Always Thinking.

The Relais Henley: Historical layers and the Charles I wall painting

The site of The Relais at The Red Lion (Henley) includes architectural elements that extend from the fifteenth century through to the present day. The construction of the Chantry House, situated between St Mary’s Church in Hart Street and the Thameside courtyard of The Relais, has been dated to 1461 by means of dendrochronology. Historical layering is also evident in a wall painting which dates to 1632, during the reign of Charles I, and is in fact the monarch’s coat of arms.

‘It all started with a conversation’: Developing a Visual Identity for Translation Architecture

We wanted our visual and typographic identity to foreground the connections that Translation Architecture makes between writing, design process, collaboration, dialogue and building. Conscious of how important writing is to translating abstract ideas into design concepts, we explore new projects and develop ideas through writing, which we see as a crucial aspect of dialogue and collaboration.