BGA Architects Ltd started life in 1984 as Brian Grahame Architects, trading as a sole trader but was re-launched in 2007 as BGA Architects Ltd. Operating out of Newtownards, ten miles north of Belfast.
Today there are three directors - Brian and Denise Grahame and John Lavery - who carry out a variety of public and private sector work, including bespoke private houses and contemporary house extensions and as a result have become a well respected design led practice right across Northern Ireland.
John Lavery says, “It is our intention to design exciting buildings, we like to get involved with our clients at an early stage, discover what it is that they are trying to achieve and then examine it to see how we can exceed their expectations. We build trustworthy relationships with our clients early in the design process that enables us to fully develop their brief inspiring a stimulating building.”
However, it is not just a matter of coming up with a brilliant design. Every building must respect the vernacular aspects of the site. We design a lot of replacement dwellings in the countryside and extensions to existing rural houses and it is my responsibility to ensure that what we do enhances the countryside and does not become a blight upon it. “Hopefully, what we have done to date achieves just that.”
John adds, “ I focus mostly private sector work, i.e house extensions, housing developments (private and public) and one-off houses while Brian does mainly public sector work, However, at the end of the day every project becomes a matter of teamwork. I also sit on the Royal Society of Ulster Architects’ “Sustainability Committee.”
Sustainability is of increasing importance to us and one of our clients has just moved into a new house in Millbay, near Kilkeel, County Down, which is the first house in Northern Ireland not to have any form of central heating.
This has been achieved through a high level of insulation and air tightness. It has large glazed elements to the south elevations and little or no glazing to the north. The south facing roof is designed for solar and PV arrays with future provision for a wind turbine to take advantage of the Feed in Allowance. It will also allow a reduction in carbon footprint with a view to becoming carbon-neutral in the future. The double height central void allows for deep penetration of natural stack ventilation. We are monitoring the external and internal temperatures for one year but so far the client is delighted. The house was featured on BBC Newsline earlier this year and is just one of a number of our modern vernacular dwellings which have been approved under the rural planning policy PPS21, responding to the site, its context and the wider environmental issues.