Our approach to design and research

Our work is informed by beliefs developed over a number of years, based on methodologies from practice and research.  We aim to extend our practice beyond the traditional role of the architect, acting as agents supporting change through participation and collaboration.




We believe that the combination of working with ‘place’, local communities, their agency and their ideas is a powerful two way process.

Coming to Sheffield in the 1990’s we wanted to get involved and offer our ideas and enthusiasm for this great part of the country. We have developed a network of projects across a number of scales, from ‘A Vision for the Future of Sheffield’, to more intimate spaces for the city such as youth shelters.

Working with local communities, their agency and their ideas is a powerful two way process.

In 2001 we were invited to join Southey and Owlerton Area Regeneration (SOAR), an arms-length council regeneration team, working on a three year inclusive process to rethink the future of the neighbourhoods of North Sheffield. Employing more radical methodologies, we pioneered a new approach to community-led neighbourhood design that empowered residents to meaningfully influence the programme of regeneration. As consultants, we researched and developed neighbourhood plans, housing strategies and public spaces for each neighbourhood in the SOAR area. The resulting SOAR framework document has endured, and has been the basis of many high profile projects built and emerging to date.




Learning by sharing ideas and perspectives underpins all of our work, whether that is through community led design, working with school pupils or individual clients.

Enabling discussion about design is key to the creation of well designed places that have the power to transform the environments in which people live. Our experience as educators enables us to reflect on our work as well as driving the need to stay at the cutting edge of practice. CE+CA is actively involved in teaching in Schools of Architecture both in Sheffield and Newcastle, leading teaching in areas as diverse as technology, humanities and participation.

Our work has pioneered new methodologies and practices in community led design.

Our work with The Glass House has pioneered new methodologies and practices in community led design. We have facilitated design training workshops aimed at empowering community groups to take on regeneration projects in their own neighbourhoods. We have also developed a number of resource publications for The Glass House ‘… by design series’. The work was aimed at guiding small groups through the complex process involved in designing and procuring projects. Prue is currently Chairperson on the Board of Trustees of The Glass House.




All of our projects are borne of a unique combination of the people and the place; the topography, geology and materiality of a particular location, as well as its historical and social settings.

A strong awareness of context underpins and unifies our work, and enables users to adapt and define the future of the places in which they live, work and play. Sheffield’s reputation as a centre for technological innovation, and its qualities as a place to live, influenced the strategy for the Green Homes project in 2004. Working with a diverse team of engineers, artists and anthropologists, the proposals offered an improved image and identity for the Norfolk Park area of the city, defining a new housing typology for the ‘Park City’ that combines Sheffield’s green identity with low energy, sustainable futures.

A strong awareness of context underpins and unifies our work.

Understanding historical context also plays a key role in imagining sustainable futures. Our proposal at Oughtibridge for a small, private housing scheme built on an historic mill site draws on the heritage of the water-powered industry. The scheme exposes archaeology and exploits topography to limit potential future flooding possibilities, creating a locally specific and special place to live, with a sensitive awareness of the past whilst able to meet the needs of future users.




Educational environments should be inspiring places to learn.

Our major publication on school design, Building Schools; Key Issues for Contemporary Design [Birkhauser 2015] draws themes from international best practice to illustrate ways that we as architects can aspire to improve the quality of learning and teaching spaces.

Extensive research and experience informs how we design spaces for learning.

Our own school projects build on this research and deliver the same care and attention to detail as our domestic practice. Ballifield Primary School needed a welcoming entrance, a place for parents and the community, and improved classroom facilities. Collaborative consultation between PCA and Bdr, the school pupils and students from the University of Sheffield influenced the project development, from its inception to completion. The classroom itself offers a special place to learn that engages the school community through the careful use of healthy and recycled materials and well designed spaces.

The series of projects and themes that emerged from this collaboration also resulted in the publication of Primary Ideas [DFeS 2002] by Bdr.




Public buildings deserve the same attention to detail as individual homes; careful consideration of how spaces feel to be in, and how the design can best provide for its users.

Good design can transform and personalise public spaces.

Our award winning renovation of Hillsborough Park Pavilion reimagined the prototype English sports pavillion. The scheme transformed a tired clubhouse into an accessible facility serving users from across the city. With opportunities to linger and rest, amazing toilets and views that situate you in the bowling green and park beyond, the result is facility that is both sustainable and flexible, hosting activities ranging from tea dances to crown green championships throughout the seasons.




Homes are our refuge from the outside world, and also how we reflect ourselves on to the world. They should have inspiring places to sit, capture light and frame views, be safe, easy to manage and maintain.

Designing successeful houses requires a close and enduring relationship with clients. We work closely with our clients and their homes to build an appropriate and sensitive brief for each project; for example, looking closely at the relationship that the house has with the garden, or considering how they prepare and eat food.

Capturing light and framing views can enhance the smallest of spaces.

Understanding how natural light animates a space, or how capturing a view can enhance the smallest of spaces, has been key across our award-winning projects. Whether creating brand new spaces or reinventing existing and historic homes, thoughtful planning has allowed us to help people improve their spaces to achieve their dreams and to support the way they want to live. Projects such as The Wenninger House have focused on adapting Victorian or Edwardian plans to accommodate the daily demands of modern family life, whilst also maximizing scarce natural light and improving the house’s relationship with the landscape.