Summer Newsletter

Just before everyone heads off on a well-earned summer break, we thought we’d share our first newsletter in which we will talk a little about what we’re working on, thinking about, reading and listening to, and things that inspire us at Translation Architecture. The second part of the newsletter will be a slightly more in depth look at a topical issue - this time heat, and what we are doing about it on our current projects.

We can’t promise that these newsletters will be very frequent (we're aiming for seasonal), but we can promise that they will be topical, informative and engaging. We hope you find them interesting and please do get in touch to let us know your thoughts.


If you enjoy this and want to subscribe for further updates, you can see the original published newsletter and sign up here.

Nick & Sze Wei


What we’re discovering

We’re constantly undertaking research into new materials which assist in improving thermal and acoustic performance in retrofit projects and recent exciting discoveries are phase change insulating panels and an incredibly thin internal lining which generates heat while absorbing sound.

What we’re reading

Carolyn Steel’s Sitopia – how food can save the world; a fascinating study of the relationship between food and cities, how we got to where we are now, and how we might remake this relationship for the better.

What we’re listening to

Metropolis Magazine’s Deep Green podcast covers a vast range of subjects including buildings as trees, examining their ability to not just limit carbon emissions, but to actively absorb them from the atmosphere. Another recent instalment explored the potential of water for energy storage and heat recovery from waste.

What we’re thinking about

Food, supply chains and logistics: while you'll usually find us designing places where you can go to have a great meal, we’re also fascinated by how food is produced, how it gets to retailers, kitchens and restaurants and ultimately to the people who consume it. We're interested in the whole journey - more on this soon!

Translation Architecture Loves

An 18th Century hôtel particulier in Paris, refurbished by Valerio Olgiati for Nicholas Ghesquière, partially inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This sounds like a work of fiction but it exists and is published in the September issue of the World of Interiors. There is precious little about it available online, so you'll have to get the magazine to see more - perfect vacation reading.


A Warm(ing) Welcome

The idea of a slow news day seems like a slightly distant concept right now, but something that has focussed minds in the last couple of weeks is how our buildings are able to perform in the changing climate. Having been subjected to temperatures of over forty degrees centigrade, most in the UK have been found wanting. We now have a much more visceral and immediate idea of the kinds of challenges we face in adapting to a warming planet and the importance of targeting net zero by 2050 or earlier.

Hotels are perhaps more demanding than many other building types given the complex mix of uses and round-the-clock operation. This is reason enough for every new build or refurbishment project to be designed to be as energy efficient as possible.  It’s a commonly held notion that eighty percent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built, and that's one of the reason why, here at Translation Architecture, we are focussed on retrofit and refurbishment. Project by project, our goal is to extend the lifespan of as many buildings as we can through creative, low energy adaptive re-use. 

There are two primary aspects to this: one is to reduce energy demand and the other is to improve efficiency. This is approached differently in historic and more modern buildings, and we are fortunate to have been able to take on both types of projects in our first two years.  Making a building better able to regulate its internal environment by reducing solar gain in the warmer months and limiting heat loss in the colder months reduces energy demand at source and, in our view, makes for a more comfortable, liveable space. This is done primarily through improved insulation and higher performing building elements such as windows and doors, eliminating thermal bridges where possible and careful detailing at the various interfaces.

In historic buildings the goal is to improve the thermal performance of the building envelope while maintaining its inherent characteristics of mass and breathability so as not to damage its heritage value. Careful detailing is critical here to avoid the common problems of condensation and moisture build-up. We feel quite strongly that there is a great deal to learn from buildings that have survived – sometimes for centuries – about living in equilibrium with your environment, something that as a country, and ultimately as a planet, we must get right.

The second part to this is more efficient services infrastructure. Existing buildings are often saddled with poor or failing services, and there is often no alternative to replacing it entirely. Thankfully technology and more importantly, sources of renewable energy, are constantly improving and becoming more affordable, so it is possible to make a real difference here. This is ultimately not just about adjusting to changing climate, but also to limit the exposure of homes and businesses to energy price spikes, which will lower costs and improve viability in the medium to long term.

Summer Newsletter

31 Jul 2022

Nicholas de Klerk

Out of Office

... this blend of tourism and the idea of a hotel as a kind of community asset or a social condenser, answers the both the demand for authenticity from guests and the relevance or utility for its local community. As our work, life and leisure patterns continue to shift, this is a version of the hotel whose time has come, and it is great to be finally creating the spaces that we have been talking about for so long.

Routes and connections: The civic character of The Relais, Henley-on-Thames

A significant design intervention in the refurbishment of The Relais Henley (formerly The Red Lion Hotel) was the opening up of the corridor between the reception and what is now The Clipper Restaurant.

Out of Office

A significant design intervention in the refurbishment of The Relais Henley (formerly The Red Lion Hotel) was the opening up of the corridor between the reception and what is now The Clipper Restaurant.