Our practice is known for its high level of professionalism, impeccable client service and meticulous attention to detail. We have a passion for history, sustainability and people and are experts in working in heritage contexts and navigating the complex planning issues that ensue.
MWAI is a London based architecture and interiors practice. Our office is centrally located in Marylebone, providing access to all London districts.
Our designers have an extraordinary opportunity to create spaces that positively transform how people live and work now and in the future. Each project is individually crafted with a full understanding of the brief and the clients’ vision, a keen interest in the history and context of the site, and realistic, achievable outcomes. In our design process we concentrate on the elements that most affect human experience to produce profound, imaginative, and transformational responses to the brief.
We engage our staff in a culture of learning which also promotes fresh thinking and experimentation. Researching and sharing are deep rooted values, supporting our ethos to constantly evolve and exceed.
We have built a strong reputation for impeccable client service and almost all our work comes from recommendation. We aim to be approachable but discrete, direct but considered, and rational but creative in all our dealings.
Almost all our projects over the past decade have involved working with buildings set in a historic context and in difficult planning boroughs, ranging from Sofitel St James, the island of St Helena to complex residential work in Central London.
The combination of our experience, research base, attention to detail, professional approach and imaginative responses means MWAI are expert in dealing with new build, above ground or basement extensions and refurbishments of existing buildings in heritage landscapes, within Conservation Areas, or on Listed Buildings.
MWAI undertakes Heritage Appraisals, Listed Building Consent or Approval for Demolition with a Conservation Area, dealing directly with the Conservation Officers in the Local Authority. We are not restoration or conservation architects however, and will recommend specialist Heritage Consultants where required.
We enjoy the context of these type of projects, and work hard to find the necessary inventive solution to marry modernising the existing building, the framework for planning and the needs of the client.
As the Climate Change Agenda starts to inform Policy, sensitive and sustainable refurbishment of UK existing building stock is becoming increasingly important. MWAI is ready to meet this challenge.
MWAI helps clients transition to a more sustainable future. Even small steps can make a big difference. We are committed to improving the environment, but we are not perfect, preachy or dogmatic, and understand the many challenges ahead.
MWAI are subscribers to ‘ACAN’ and ‘Architects Declare’ and actively encourage sustainable thinking in our projects. As a Chartered RIBA Practice, we are committed to helping the construction industry deliver the ‘RIBA sustainable outcomes 2030’.
As most of our work is with existing buildings, we have a particular interest in the sustainable refurbishment of buildings within a historic context. We support the SPAB and Historic England approach to sustainable refurbishment.
MWAI leads a design unit on the Masters programme at the Kent School of Architecture and Planning. Our teaching at Kent places increasing emphasis on educating students about the effects of climate change and the importance of sustainability in architecture. Over the past two years we have looked specifically at the subjects of architectural activism in the fight against climate change and designing to achieve net zero carbon emissions. We try to collaborate with engineers across disciplines to provide seminars and tutoring, and by leading the learning we constantly evolve and upgrade our own knowledge and expertise.
You can access an example of the student outcomes in our Research Portfolio (below).
We continually improve our understanding of materials. Our research covers everything from interrogating innovative sustainable materials to gently testing the delicate fabric of a historic building. Our meticulous attention to detail and focus on craftsmanship means we are forensic about selecting exactly the right material for each building and room, ensuring that the material is as good in performance as it is aesthetically pleasing. We pay close attention to endurance and maintenance, and our interior designers also consider the feel of the material, its smell, its light reflective qualities and its warmth and its robustness before putting forward a material for consideration.
We are increasingly interested in health & wellbeing, and in biophilic design in architecture, and are actively engaged with developing spatial and material concepts for the development of healthy environments for cancer respite in the UK alongside the charity ‘Yes to Life’.
Alessia is responsible for overseeing MWAI's projects and overall design approach. She began her architecture career in her home city of Milan, where she ran her own practice for seven years, working on residential projects and award-winning cultural projects. Having relocated to London in 2007, she advanced her career by working on larger and more complex cultural and masterplan projects before joining Matthew in 2010 and taking on the role of Creative Director. Her design approach is informed by the connections that emerge between people and the cultural and physical contexts that surround them. She places craftsmanship at the heart of the architectural and interior experience and is an advocate of sustainable re-use and imaginative transformation of existing buildings.
Award-winning architect Matthew founded MWAI in 2009. He remains at the front of the practice, ensuring that MWAI is future focused, and can field a talented, versatile and dedicated team. Spanning over two decades, his career has led him from a Masters degree at the University of Sheffield to the Manser Practice, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and onto the position of associate lecturer at the University of Kent, where he runs a MArch design Unit. Starting from an exploration of energy systems and the urban environment for his master’s degree, he has developed a specialism in low-energy sustainable housing, alongside expertise in heritage London, refurbishment and bespoke residential interiors.
Ben joined MWAI as an associate in 2009, becoming a director in 2015, Ben’s responsibilities range from everyday practice and project management to taking the lead in key procedural areas such as building regulations, procurement, and contract management. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh and natural problem-solver, Ben has acquired extensive experience in London’s private residential sector and is accustomed to delivering complex projects involving underground extensions and historically sensitive redevelopments. He acts as the technical assistant for the practice’s MArch unit at the University of Kent.
Dat joined the practice as senior Architect in 2019. Dat has had many years’ experience in the production of concept-driven contemporary designs at all scales, including larger complex projects and masterplans to smaller private projects. He has extensive experience in residential developments and a specialism of working with existing listed buildings, striving to deliver a high level of integration of innovative building and services techniques without compromising strategic concepts. He is currently responsible for MWAI’s extensive office CDP programme including the practices commitment to driving net zero carbon design.
David joined MWAI after graduating from the Kent School of Architecture in 2016. Prior to his present role at MWAI, he had gained experience in Canterbury working on educational and residential projects. David has a passion for design and enjoys working on high detailed interiors projects.
Charlotte joined the office in 2018 after graduating with a Distinction from Kent School of Architecture. In 2018 Charlotte was nominated by Kent for the prestigious RIBA silver medal entry prize award. Charlotte is current studying for her RIBA Part III at Westminster University.