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This is who we are

Founded in 1998 by Director John Lee, he describes the threads of thought that run through his practice's work:

"In many ways the start of a project is the most interesting. I enjoy the early conversations - kind of free-flowing, about the material world, places, people, continuity and change. My specialist field - architecture - happens at the intersection of these fields. Architects always need to be generalists in some sense.

Down the years we've been through various phases. When I began we had a tight team of skilled people, who shared my enthusiasms for well-managed yet playful environment for creative working. We won quite a few business awards in that period - I suppose because architects don't always succeed in achieving that combination of work and play. Our people were part of planning and shaping the business.

High profile clients like Manchester City Council, Urban Splash, Great Places and the Tate Gallery alternated with smaller north-west developers of various kinds. Before the 2008 crash we grew steadily; after that, not so much. Seventeen people was a big responsibility, and I had a rethink about the things I really enjoyed doing. Teaching had become part of my weekly diet. And we'd always had not-for-profit clients from my Christian networks (I am a Christian). So I did more of that.


Since 2008 my smaller team developed many designs for sister company Y, a property development initiative focused on residential and community partnership schemes. And Arca has had a steady flow of bespoke work for charities and not-for-profit organisations, covering adult education, churches, and even a skatepark. Whatever the brief, each project is considered from first principles - back to the topics of those enjoyable first conversations. My delight is to see users and clients thrilled with the way considered contemporary design can inspire people in a place, connected to the past and ready for whatever the future holds."

John still teaches part-time at the prestigious Manchester School of Architecture, where he teaches in the Continuity in Architecture Atelier and is MArch Technology Lead in the Masters Programme. He has research interests in urban design, small settlements, ornament and architectural technology, with numerous academic papers across these subjects.

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