Tom Holbrook — Director

Professor Tom Holbrook's design research has developed an approach to strategic thinking that explores the dynamic between architecture and the scale of infrastructure and landscape. The relationship between research and practice has encouraged design innovation and a fresh attitude towards conservation, environmental sustainability and complex regeneration projects.

Tom came to architecture tangentially from a background in film-making and theatre. He co-founded 5th Studio in 1997 as a spatial design agency, working across the fields of architecture, urban design, infrastructure and landscape.

Tom completed a PhD by practice at RMIT in 2014. His thesis - Expanding Disciplinarity in Architectural Practice: Designing From the Room to the City - was published by Routledge in 2016, and proposes a generalist approach to architectural practice.

In combination with practice, Tom is Professor of Architecture and Industry Fellow at RMIT University, based in Melbourne & Barcelona. He is Visiting Professor at the Politecnico Milano, Italy. Tom directs Urban Studies at the London School of Architecture. He taught for ten years at the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture and has been an external examiner at London Metropolitan University and the MARCH school, Moscow. Tom also contributes to teaching at the London School of Economics Cities Programme and at Central St Martins. Tom regularly contributes critical writing and opinion to a variety of media; he is a member of the Design Panel for High Speed Two, the Quality Panel for the Olympic Legacy Development Corporation and is a design advisor to the Greater London Authority.

Recent work at 5th Studio includes leading on the Lea River Park Design Framework (winner of the International Urban Landscape Award) and the Creative Exchange building in St Neots (RIBA Award, and finalist for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award). Tom is currently directing work on a number of Olympic Fringe projects in East London – from masterplanning through to building scale – and the design of spaces for education and innovation in Cambridge.

Oliver Smith — Director

Before founding 5th Studio Oliver had worked with James Stirling and then Sir Richard MacCormac on a number of international and national gallery, museum and higher education projects.

For a period of over 12 years Oliver combined practice with studio teaching at the University of Cambridge School of Architecture – focussing on attitudes to materiality and construction. Oliver has extended this research through the practice’s work in developing a critical approach to sustainable construction and in particular to adaptation of existing fabric.

Recent project work at 5th Studio includes the direction of the award-winning projects at St Catharine’s College Russell Street and the Wolfson Flats, Churchill College in Cambridge, which establish an innovative approach to low-carbon building. Current projects in Oxford, London and Cambridge are developing this approach over a wide range of new build and refurbishment projects – at scales from minor works to campus masterplanning and including the highly-sustainable refurbishment of a Grade I listed building.

Oliver has also directed the recently completed community and sports projects in London and Cambridge, extending the practice’s reputation for skilful community engagement and successful management of local authority procurement.

Oliver is a founder trustee of Shape East – the architecture centre for the East of England – and, since 2009, a key member of the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel, advising on the sustainable growth within the city-region.

John Cain — Associate

John studied at the University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After experience working for Haworth Tompkins Architects, John joined 5th Studio in 2004 and became a registered Architect in 2006.

As an Associate of the practice John has had a key role in a broad range of projects, including the Wolfson Building refurbishment and the ‘hanging seminar room’ additions for Trinity College, the comprehensive re-modelling of a 40 unit graduate-student housing block for Churchill College, Cambridge, and low carbon housing in Bow, London.

John has played a major role in producing strategic planning and brief development of studies for clients including Cambridgeshire Horizons (Cambridge urban extensions and public realm strategy) and Design for London (East London Green Grid – Lea Valley). John brings an impeccable sense of detail and consideration to projects at all scales, and is a key member of the London studio.

John has been a supervisor in construction studies for Clare College, Fitzwilliam College and King’s College Cambridge. His other teaching experience includes a position as an undergraduate design studio tutor 2003-04 at MIT and a guest critic at Cambridge University Department of Architecture.

Liz King — Associate

Liz King is an experienced, qualified Architect and a key member of the 5th Studio team. Her experience spans arts, residential, commercial and educational building sectors, both in terms of planning and delivery stages. Along with overseeing projects on site, she also enjoys the early stages of projects, working closely with clients to guide them through the complexities of research, brief formulation and project definition.

Liz was the Project Architect for the St. Catharine’s College Russell Street development, completed on-time and on-budget in 2009. This project won the RIBA East award for best residential project in 2010. Since then Liz has worked on a variety of building and infrastructure projects within the Lea River Park landscape masterplan, and the Future Business Centre: a new headquarters building for the Cambridge-based national charity Allia.

Liz previously worked at Allies and Morrison, where among other projects she was a member of the team for the Stirling prize nominated Royal Festival Hall redevelopment project, and Ungless and Latimer Architects in Edinburgh, where she worked on buildings in the conservation areas of Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns.

Liz trained at the University of Cambridge and London South Bank University. She maintains a close link with the Architecture Faculty in Cambridge, as is currently a Director of Studies in Architecture for both Trinity Hall and Girton colleges.

Kieran Perkins — Associate

Kieran is an Associate at 5th Studio, a registered Architect and an experienced urban & landscape designer. Kieran works between the Cambridge and London studios and has been involved with the practice since 2001. Since joining the practice full-time in 2004 he has worked on projects at a range of scales and sectors and for diverse client groups.

Recent projects include large-scale landscape proposition and masterplanning work in the Lea Valley, the detailed design of innovative new public and residential buildings, and the development of highly crafted interventions in existing, often historic environments. Across all of these fields Kieran consistently brings skills of creative insight and the elegant resolution of complex, often contradictory, conditions.

Kieran’s approach includes an impressive strategic outlook, excellent visual and verbal communication skills and a very high level of care in relation to delivery and detail design. He is particularly experienced at intelligently combining high-level strategic thinking with a concern for, and enjoyment of, the physical, experiential and practical qualities of buildings and places.

Kieran has taught at the University of Cambridge and at Nottingham University and serves on the Shape East Design Review Panel (LINK) and the Cambridge Design and Conservation Panel (LINK).

February Phillips — Associate

February has wide-ranging experience working as a lead consultant, project architect, project manager and contract administrator on multi-award winning projects varying in contract value from £40K to £20 million. This includes experience on listed buildings, new buildings, landscaping and public realm design.

She combines extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of conservation with innovative and sustainable approaches to the reworking of historic and modernist buildings. February has also taken on major award-winning new build projects and is proficient at dealing with complex spatial and material designs on constrained and open sites. Projects she has led at 5th Studio include New Court, Trinity College, Wolfson Flats, Churchill College and Creative Exchange, St Neots.

February’s skills include leading large design teams and coordinating complex design packages - from inception to completion - working closely with cost consultants to ensure the best quality and value. She excels at working collaboratively through the design and construction stages to deliver highly successful projects.

February has experience with post occupancy evaluation, from analysing technical data and end user survey information to advising on adaptations to improve the comfort and productivity of end users, providing feedback for future projects.

Beth Lambert — Associate

Beth is an experienced qualified Architect with varied practical knowledge spanning the fields of urban design and architecture.

Since joining the practice in 2007 she has worked on a variety of building and infrastructure projects, including include large-scale landscape proposition and masterplanning work such as; a Design Framework for the Lea River Park, and developing streetscape proposals as part of the Mayor of London’s Road Task Force study.

Beth has experience in both planning and delivery stages, and was the project Architect for the renovation and environmental upgrade of 200 student rooms at Trinity College which involved the development of highly crafted interventions in a complex, existing historic environment.

Beth leads the practice’s Quality System Management.

Mike Taylor — Associate

Mike has top-class presentation and 3D drawing skills, and brings a detailed and instinctive design sensibility to all the projects he is involved with.

He has worked on a range of public realm projects during his time at 5th Studio, chiefly the Lea River Park; from the development of a planning framework, through consultation with clients and stakeholders, to detailed design of the Leaway, including the proposed visitor centres and public realm at East India Dock Basin. Other projects include the masterplanning of the proposals around the Olympic fringe, and the development of the material charecteristics of the first phase of the Leaway at Three Mills Green. More recently, Mike has taken a pivotal role in 5th Studio’s work on a new transport interchange in Vauxhall.

His skills have been brought to use on many of the practices self-initiated propositions, including proposals for a new garden city in Calvert, North Sea Dialogues, and Stour City proposal - which was exhibited at the Royal Academy as part of its ‘Four Visions for the Future of Housing’ exhibition.

Mike studied at the University of Cambridge where he was awarded the Anderson and Webb Scholarship for studio work. He has since studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen, and completed his Diploma thesis at London Metropolitan University. He is currently a Supervisor in Architecture at the University of Cambridge, and is a visiting critic at a number of architecture schools including Central St Martins and The University of Nottingham.

Iona Foster — Architect

Iona joined 5th Studio in 2016 and brings her experience of working on a variety of public building projects in the Arts and Education sectors.

Iona lives and works in Oxford where she enjoys the rich cultural and architectural heritage of the historic city and engages in the current debate on housing shortage and the need for a bigger plan for the city. Since joining 5th Studio Iona has worked with an Oxford college on the planned restoration of significant historic fabric for use as a major college facility and is currently working on improvements to the college's interface with the public realm.

Before joining 5th Studio Iona worked as an Associate with Allies and Morrison on the award winning new buildings for Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge and on the refurbishment of the grade 1 listed Royal Festival Hall in which Iona had particular responsibility for the public foyer areas and the development of the riverside retail area. Iona worked with Arup Associates and Allies and Morrison on the new underground stations at Kings Cross which were critical to the 2012 Olympic delivery of 'operation javelin' transport link to the Stratford site. Iona has also worked for private residential clients and was runner up in the Grand Designs Awards 2008. Her commitment to sustainable design has led to the successful completion of a zero energy 'off grid' house in rural Oxfordshire.

Iona studied at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. She has taught studio design at Cambridge, Westminster and Sheffield universities and lectured in Practice Management at Oxford Brookes. As a governor of an inner city Local Authority school in Oxford Iona has successfully worked with a multi ethnic community to commission building work in the public sector.

Emily Carmichael — Architect

Emily joined 5th Studio in 2016. She has since been on the design team for LB Lewisham’s New Cross Gate Area Framework and Station Opportunity Study, planning growth around the extension of the Bakerloo Line. She has worked on the technical design of Ive Farm sports pavilion for London Borough of Waltham Forest, and has collaborated with other practices on large housing schemes for London Boroughs.

Emily previously worked at Haworth Tompkins, and as a researcher for the Cambridge University Department of Architecture. Here she gained her MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design, with research based on design and funding strategies for social housing in Swansea. She is a registered Architect, and completed her professional practice training at the Architectural Association. She is currently a practice mentor with the Stephen Lawrence Trust.

Raluca Cirstoc — Architect

Raluca is an architect whose work inhabits the political and social spectrum of architecture and urban design.

Her experience at 5th Studio includes working closely with public authorities on strategic briefs, developing masterplans and dealing with the complexities of site construction. Most recently, Raluca has played an important role in overseeing the delivery of the Ive Farm Sports Ground in Leyton.

Before joining 5th Studio she was involved in a number of projects, most notably, the development of a masterplan for a heavily polluted industrial site in Beijing. Her previous work also includes projects in the commercial and education sector.

Raluca studied at Oxford Brookes University and at the Royal College of Art, where she was awarded a Distinction. She recently gained her Part 3 qualification from the Architectural Association.

Outside of the practice, Raluca co-runs Derailed Lab, a vehicle for interdisciplinary research into cities and the built environment.

Richard Thompson — Architect

Richard graduated from the University of Manchester School of Architecture in 1992. He worked in practices in Malaysia and London before joining Dixon Jones in 1996 to work on the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House.

Whilst at Dixon Jones, Richard gained a wide range of experience on projects including Saïd Business School in Oxford, Kings Place in London (a £100m arts venue and commercial office for the Guardian newspaper), and the Chelsea Barracks masterplan. He was made an Associate Director in 2005, taking on wider responsibilities for project running and management.

Richard joined 5th Studio in 2017 and brings a breadth of experience across education, residential and commercial sectors, and from interiors to large scale commercial projects. He also brings experience of all aspects of the design process, managing programme costs and delivery through a variety of contract types and procurement approaches, and through all phases of the design and construction process.

Richard enjoys working closely with clients and consultants to fully understand the functional and commercial drivers of projects, and believes that successful schemes stem from a truly collaborative approach to design and construction.

Kaiyil Gnanakumaran — Senior Assistant

Kaiyil is currently completing a Masters in Spatial Planning and Urban Design at The Cass, where she received Distinction in her Part II diploma for projects concerning industrial activity in the Middle Lea Valley and the sensitive development of a North London council estate. She read her undergraduate degree at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and has gained experience in New York, Beijing, and London ranging from small scale urban intervention to proposals for assisted living with joint community facilities. Since joining 5th Studio in August 2016, Kaiyil is involved in the design of an outdoor Sporting Hub at Ive Farm, Leyton.

Dan Miodrag — Senior Assistant

Dan is an experienced Part 2 Assistant, skilled in architectural and public realm design.

During his time at 5th Studio he has been involved in a number of projects, most notably playing a key role in the detailed development for the refurbishment of New Court at Trinity College in Cambridge. Dan’s work included extensive detail testing and design development through full-scale models, comprehensive drawing packages and experience on site in the context of a Grade 1-Listed building. Dan has also worked on the design and delivery of the Leaway landscape and public realm project and Vauxhall Transport Interchange.

In tandem with excellent design skills, Dan is a highly skilled craftsman, and has created a number of exquisite models for the practice.

Anastasia Orphanidou — Senior Assistant

Anastasia is a Part 2 Architectural Assistant who has gained experience across various scales of architecture and urbanism.

Anastasia received her MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Cambridge, where her thesis investigated the agro-sector of Almeria, Spain: a complex and challenging built environment and topography. The project proposed the reactivation of circulation spaces using ecosystem enhancement tools to create inclusive spaces for farmers, workers and nature, combined with small-scale infrastructure concentrated in clusters, as means to a more ethical agro-system. Her work received the Alexander Pike Award for best building technology dissertation. Part of her research degree involved an exchange programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

During her studies, Anastasia was involved in several internships and volunteering positions in the UK, Israel, Spain and Hong Kong, mostly related to the global food production system and its repercussions. She gained her Part 1 experience in London, working predominantly on high-end residential projects.

At 5th Studio, Anastasia is currently working on the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Corridor: Future Planning Options Project.

Tom Brownill — Assistant

Tom is an experienced Part 1 Architectural Assistant with a background in residential renovation and alteration. He graduated from Manchester School of Architecture in 2014 with a First for his thesis project ‘Writer’s block’. A skilled draughtsman, Tom’s thoughtful approach produces clear and precise work, which he delivers with rigorous professionalism.

During his time at 5th Studio Tom has worked on the redevelopment of thirteen residential towers at Thamesmead. His previous experience includes volunteer work on the development of social housing projects in Oxford, the construction of a community library in Cape Town, South Africa, and work on the redevelopment of the Corn Exchange in Manchester.

Helena Jordan — Assistant

Helena recently completed her BA Architecture at Central Saint Martins, for which she was awarded a First Class Honours. Her final major project 'Northdown Network' challenges what Margate's neighbourhood could become in a currently fragmented society, testing social regeneration through education and exchange. Through a mixed programme of residency and civic activities, the Hub provides the potential for interaction to occur, allowing a diverse community to unite and foster a new sense of belonging, identity, and trust. Helena was nominated for the Lowe NOVA Award 2016 and won the RIBA Drawing Prize. Northdown Network will be presented in the 'Brain Waves' exhibition at the Lethaby Gallery for London Design Festival.

Her previous experience has focused on collaborative design and build pavillions, using CNC technologies.

At 5th Studio, she has worked on a wide range of public realm projects, including Regent’s Place and Chingford Community Hub, and has contributed to the regeneration and conservation of Leyton Sports Ground.

Ben Thomas — Assistant

Ben studied 'Architecture & Planning' at UWE, and at ENSA Paris La Villette, where he completed his dissertation on “the nature of socio-political constructs within 'public' space”, and was nominated for the president medal. His fourth year final project titled ‘Bath Power Station’, speculated on the ontology of public space against the surface and material of an infrastructural masterplan.

Ben has developed experience as a Part 1 Assistant across education, residential, offices, retail and leisure sectors, working at Adam Khan Architects and Sheppard Robson. Over the past year, he has provided photography assistance to Helene Binet, travelling to photograph buildings by architects such as Herzog & De Meuron, Caruso St John and Rudolf Schwarz.

Julie Collins — Practice Manager

Julie is 5th Studio’s Practice Manager, overseeing the practice’s finances, invoicing, day-to-day management of the Cambridge studio, and acting as PA to the Directors.

Julie has a background in finance and customer service, and a meticulous attention to detail, which she applies to all her work at 5th Studio. Julie is also the leader in charge of her village Brownie unit, and helps members of Girlguiding with local, national and international adventures. She brings her imaginative approach to maintaining staff welfare at 5th Studio.

Both administrators liaise closely with each other to provide administrative support to architectural staff across both studios.


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