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Studio life

Whether in Birmingham or London, you’ll find us approachable and down-to-earth. We’re a team of industrious and resourceful people passionate about making and making things happen.

The Mercian has been shortlisted in this years Architects' Journal AJ Awards in the Housing Project (£20m and over) category. Read more here.

History

Our practice was founded in 1990 by Glenn Howells, who started out designing award winning buildings that have the same clear guiding principles that we retain today.

Our first job was revamping the former Birds Custard Factory in Birmingham into a cultural destination and start-up workspace, which became our first home. We built our reputation by winning competitions and, in 1995, won the job to design the Courtyard Arts Centre in Hereford, followed by other wins, including The Market Place Arts and Conference Centre in Armagh, The Dream Factory Theatre in Warwick, Timber Wharf in Manchester and the Savill Building, nominated for the 2007 Stirling Prize, in Windsor Great Park.

  • Howells Birmingham Office 2002

    Birmingham 2002

  • The Custard Factory in Birmingham

    The Custard Factory in Birmingham

Lasting relationships

By Glenn Howells

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Over the last 30 years, we have steadily grown, enabling us to build on the original team we started with, who remain central to our design teams. We have also grown in the range and scale of projects we undertake worldwide.

Studio experience

By Francesca Ghavami-Milnes

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Birmingham – A hub for testing and making

Our home in the centre of Birmingham, 321 Bradford Street, provides us with a base where we can test and explore ideas at a variety of scales. Our in-house modelmaking workshop allows us to produce physical working models from concept stage onward.


  • View of staff testing a facade mockup

    Testing and making

  • Breakout spaces for design reviews

    Breakout spaces for design reviews

  • The modelmaking workshop

    The modelmaking workshop

  • Model shop

    Woodwork room

Within 321, our café and exhibition space offer a variety of healthy, locally sourced, home-cooked food and barista coffee. The exhibition space has hosted several cultural and industry events, including Urban Splash’s retrospective “It'll Never Work”.

  • Nest canteen

    Nest canteen

  • Nest canteen

  • Café and exhibition space

    Café and exhibition space

  • Presentation space

    Our presentation space hosting an event for Open City.

“It’ll Never Work”, the Urban Splash retrospective.

Approach and culture

By Dav Bansal

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London

Like Birmingham, our first London office saw us working in a building we designed in Southwark. The studio is now based in Fitzrovia, where proximity to the architectural community has provided the team with an inspiring space to work and explore. We regularly collaborate with the London Festival of Architecture, New London Architecture and Open City, opening up our studio, organising walking and building tours and participating in talks.

  • Howell's London office
  • Testing at different scales

  • Dav Bansal presenting at the NLA's “City without Cars” event 2022.

Studio experience

By Jenna Patel

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