Alpex Architecture: Design & Build Excellence
Meet local architect Laura Petruso and contractor Ian Patterson.
How long have you worked together and why does it work so well?
Laura: We met over 10 years ago as Ian was recommended to me as a good contractor from the local authority building inspector. Since then we have been working together on client projects as well as several personal developments. We work together extremely well and both share a passion for delivering amazing projects. For us it’s all about the quality of the spaces and the attention to detail that go beyond client’s expectations, and sometimes beyond ours too.
Ian: I looked at Laura’s portfolio and history working at top architectural company’s and projects for her private clients. I had a project and liked Laura’s vision to transform a run-down Victorian house (ugly duckling) into something special (beautiful swan) in my first personal development. I loved the way Laura created space and light in interesting ways and her passion and enthusiasm for what she does.
After over 100 projects we have both worked on together as architect and contractor, we know what we both get from one another. We challenge each other to create amazing design backed up by good craftsmanship that delivers on the brief.
Tell us about the business’ experience
Laura: We have both dedicated our working life to high spec project design and construction over many years. I worked in big international firms (Fuksas, Foster and Kohn, Pedersen & Fox) 15 years and Ian started on the tools with a special mentor, his dad, a main contractor with over than 50 years of experience.
Ian: Together we have met some amazing people along the way with budgets from massive to minimal. Our joint experience helps us to design around our clients’ needs so we can get a realistic build cost to meet their budget with the best end result.
Our clients appreciate our honesty and thought of clever solutions and different designs to meet their needs. In doing this there are no hidden costs and everyone knows what they are getting from the start to the end. It builds trust as that’s what we feel is important.
How do you get new work – is it architect referrals from Alpex, contractor referrals from Ian or straight from new and previous clients?
Laura: We both get all our projects by word of mouth and the leads come equally from both our previous work. We are lucky to be highly referred by previous clients.
Ian: Everything has been referral based from existing clients. As 99% of our work has been together it’s all come from existing clients passing on our details to their friends and family.
Do you recommend products or work to client’s specified ideas?
Laura: Some clients know exactly what they want and often that means a quicker process. However as the resulting look, feel and ambience of the space are a combination of the architectural design, interior finishes, and the quality of the build, we have a vested interest in the client’s vision. As we are both really creative and have a wide knowledge of materials for finishes and specs and a trusted list of suppliers, we are well placed to help clients take the right direction in order to satisfy their targets, way of living and lifestyle.
Ian: We enjoy guiding our clients from start to finish throughout the process which includes helping them make decisions on materials. One of Laura’s strengths is to be able to see a space and know exactly what will work. We have trade contacts for every budget and take our clients to see the materials so they can see, touch and feel which helps them to decide what they do or don’t want. We also set up a Pinterest account for our clients which helps them to get there ideas down which we can see straight away and coordinate the design and finish from there.
What projects are you most proud of?
Laura: A maisonette in Chalk Farm as well as a fifties house in Tooting left us and the clients really proud of the creation. Both were a great journey and had surprising results compared to what our clients initially thought was possible. Without a doubt the best projects we have worked on and completed to an extraordinary level are The Garden House and Roseneath road which are very special and mean a huge amount to me as an architect.
Ian: My favourite project by far is the Garden house in Wandsworth SW11. The garden house was a very difficult project which included digging a basement by hand as we could not get any machinery to dig or cart away muck! It was in the open house event and had over 1,000 visits in two days. The space created with love and dedication showed in the final product. It was incredible with all hand built kitchen wardrobes. The blood sweet and tears were all worth it.
If you could build anything for anyone what would it be and why?
Laura: Each project is special to us. A dream project would be a new modern piece of architecture, which can be residential as well as a public building incorporating great spaces to live, to work or to study would be a fun project. A sort of masterpiece to leave to our future generation and to be included in the history of architecture books.
Ian: My dream would be to find a secluded plot of land full of trees and bring something out of the ground that looks likes it been there for years. I would like it to mould in effortlessly with its environment with a minimal feel with space that works for the family or person it’s been built for.