Interview: We’ve never found a practice who are our pin-ups

Ed + Ferg Royal Street facade Kendal Noctor

Source: Kendal Noctor

They used to look up to YAYA winners – then they joined those ranks. This year they took the AYA crown. So what’s next for Fergus Feilden and Ed Fowles, asks Elizabeth Hopkirk

We are recording a podcast in a small room stuffed with trophies, models and sketches, the late autumn sun pouring in from a pretty, walled garden. Shadows from branches laden with crab apples dance across the walls as Edmund Fowles and Fergus Feilden outline their vision for the practice they founded just over a decade ago. Outside, sheep bleat and hens cluck – yet we are 400m from Waterloo station and Big Ben.

It is, frankly, idyllic and no surprise that Feilden Fowles had little trouble persuading staff to come back after lockdown. There cannot be many central London architects’ studios where you can clear your head by feeding pigs or digging potatoes, or where client meetings and team lunches can happen under the trees.

Shortly after their return this summer, the practice won Building Design’s coveted Architect of the Year Award (AYA). It is just five years since it was crowned Young Architect (YAYA) – a record. The judges clearly think they are set for greatness, but do Ed and Ferg, as they are known, find their heads turned by the towers looming over the animal pens or do they favour a more organic approach to growth?

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