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8 INSIGHTS


PRACTICE PROFILE White Red Architects


Joe Haire, co-founder and director of White Red Architects tells Roseanne Field how the ambitious practice has built on a foundation of a friendship between two undergraduates to place collaboration at the heart of its work


“We were competitive, but worked well together,” Haire says. “It would be accurate to say the practice was originally started out of friendship.”


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Despite graduating and finding jobs at other practices (Hawkins\Brown and AHMM in Haire’s case, and Foster + Partners in Lewis’), the idea of co-founding a practice endured. In 2014, they began working together as White Red Architects (WRA), but only in their spare time. For the first year they worked evenings and weekends on “a handful of projects – largely domestic extensions,” explains Haire. “We built and tested systems, and started to learn about business development and running a company.”


The name came from a competition entry Haire and Lewis were working on late one night. “We were frantically sketching with a box of red pens Dicky had borrowed from Fosters’ office,” Haire explains (stressing that they were later returned!). “The entry


ecoming friends while attending Manchester School of Architecture, Joe Haire and Dicky Lewis had always talked about starting their own practice together.


needed a team name and we saw the answer in the white and red drawings that surrounded us.” They liked its “simplicity and boldness,” he continues. To avoid it being a barrier to their goal of collaboration, they were reluctant to use their own names for the firm’s moniker. This decision was quickly vindicated as they met soon-to-be fellow director Jesus Jimenez shortly afterwards. Once they had saved enough money, Lewis handed in his notice and started working full time at WRA, closely followed by Jimenez and Haire. Initially, he says, their primary goal was to “build a platform that would give us the freedom to test and develop our ideas,” including designing in new sectors. He continues: “We liked the idea that the practice could be a vehicle for working with different people to do the work we wanted to do.” A period of tireless networking and cold calling followed, to build up not only a client list, but also market knowledge. “Having started relatively early in our careers we were not bringing established lists of clients with us,” says Haire.


Covent Garden office scheme at 12 Henrietta Street © Freddie Marriage


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ADF AUGUST 2021


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