Talking Design


Interview with David Hartley, Senior Project Architect at OWN LONDON

How would you define your role as Senior Project Architect at OWN LONDON?


At OWN LONDON, I oversee multiple projects and mentor junior architects in navigating project management, coordinating closely with teams, clients, and suppliers for seamless execution.

Our approach to construction involves a collaborative effort where even the more junior staff members play a significant role in managing processes, gaining invaluable experience along the way. Unlike traditional practices where interactions between contractors and architects might only happen weekly, akin to a cautious game of chess, our culture is markedly different. Our integrated team effort leads to regular on-site visits, fostering real-time problem-solving that contrasts with the conventional method where issues might be hidden or ignored.

Our proactive, transparent strategy not only ensures project quality but also anticipates and resolves potential challenges early, thanks to our close relationships on-site. Foresight and collaboration are crucial for high-quality delivery.



Your role at OWN LONDON is multidisciplinary and tailored to each individual project – how does this help you to focus on the finer details and how does this facilitate the delivery of the completed project?


Being able to see the wider picture enables the details to come together. On site, things happen at such a pace that if the right planning is lacking, the finer details often fall between the cracks. This can mean they’re not executed, and this can lead to a project which doesn’t deliver on its original vision.



You have extensive experience working on listed houses, conservation areas and AONB. How has your experience with heritage properties, and designing within the confines of their associated planning regulations, helped to inform your vision for designing contemporary homes?


A contemporary building depends upon its surroundings; even the most modern forms reflect the history around them. At OWN LONDON, we work on many homes which are listed or in conservation areas and we harmonise their historic features with our own designs. From large windows with original sashes to architraves and cornicing, the design scheme is always complemented by the original architecture.



Space is one of the most sought-after assets of a building. How do you deploy the science of interior architecture to maximise space for your clients?


Spatial planning is critical as land values are at such a premium. The key to a successful outcome for our clients is for us to fundamentally understand how they live – how they use their space and what’s important to them in their day-to-day lives. Informed by this knowledge as well as spatial dynamics, joinery function and materials, we can then create interiors which exude luxury and maximum functionality.



How do you approach the finer details of lighting, materiality, finishes and furniture to create the most considered result?


The key is to work with specialists in their field. We focus on building great relationships with expert suppliers in lighting and FF&E both in the UK and internationally, and this pays dividends for delivering exceptional projects that are in budget and on time.



How does OWN LONDON’s multidisciplinary approach help you to realise your own architectural vision?


As an architect, being immersed in OWN LONDON’s multidisciplinary environment accelerates learning, breaking the isolation often experienced in more traditional practices. The proximity to colleagues from diverse professions promotes a natural flow of ideas and expertise. Reflecting on my own growth over the past year, the attention to detail in interior finishes—something I might not have prioritised before—has markedly enhanced the final product.

In this collaborative framework, interior designers and architects work together, debunking the myth that these fields are disparate. Our complementary skills enhance each project, a distinct advantage at OWN LONDON. Here, architects and designers co-develop spaces from the outset, unlike the typical process where an architect’s design precedes interior detailing. This integrated approach from the beginning ensures a harmonious and comprehensive development of each space, ensuring that a client’s vision is realised cohesively.