Double Villa: A home for all ages

Milk entered a design competition to design a pair of homes in Glasgow to celebrate the work of Alexander Graham Thomson, an famous 18th century Scottish architect. The competition set a brief to reinterpret his defining Double Villa in a contemporary style. We designed a two homes to suit two generations - a home for all ages.  

Key to our design process was researching the double villa, and seeing the patterns of symmetry, repetition and horizontal lines in his work to inspire our new interpretation. The layout of the original double villa uses lines of symmetry to create mirrored pair of semi-detached houses with faces backwards and forwards. Our new double villa will take the double symmetry of the original and but use the a-symmetry of the site to create two different sized homes to accommodate the different lifestyles and ages. 

The larger double villa accommodates a family, it is orientated towards the spacious south west corner site which is perfect for a family garden easily screened for privacy. The smaller villa accommodates an older couple who’s children have grown up and moved out (perhaps nextdoor!). They have a smaller garden with views of the town and lots of activity surrounding them. For now they use the upstairs master bedroom and rent out the guest studio on ground to a student, but they may end up using the ground floor bedroom if their health requires it in the future. 

We enjoyed repurposing the scheme for modern life and reflecting upon the classical architecture in a contemporary style. In our proposal, a Thomson inspired ‘chimney’ marks the entrance and landscaped roofs spill down the staggering horizontals of the houses. We propose stone, flint and glazing to be a contemporary nod to the tenements of Glasgow.  

Milk aimed to integrate the new double villa into the local community as currently the site is a current shared space, existing tenements that are accessed straight from the pavement. Trees, warm benches, shared lawn, timber screens and soft landscaping are all proposed on the site. While more trees, perpendicular parking, recycling, wider pavements and street lighting are proposed around the site.We also proposed to extend the existing bridges across the railway cuttings to create community green spaces for playing and dog walking, sun bathing and sheltering from the rain.  

As part of our entry, we created a scale model of cork, card and trees to describe the shape and materiality of our new villa. All entries including ours, were displayed in the Lighthouse, Glasgow. It was great to see how many ways the original Double Villa could be interpreted and view the exhibition in a Mackintosh designed building!


milk picnic 2017

Despite the gale force winds we had a fabulous picnic this year, under the protection of our favourite oak tree, where we made a couple of new furry friends and drank Prosecco until sundown.

The Serpentine Pavilion this year was by Francis Kéré and was very popular with the whole office. We loved the tactile use of timber,  the sympathetic colour scheme, great exposed structure and cantilevered roof. Also the really liked that the heart of the design was rooted in community and inclusivity. The best pavilion we have seen for years!

nest building

To brainstorm ideas for our Antipavilion competition entry we held a creative workshop in one of our Tuesday morning meetings. Using our theme of Urban Nests, we paired up into multidisciplinary teams to get a varied point of view and were given everyday materials, such as packaging; elastic bands and drinks coasters. Using these humble materials and given a short amount of time we created "nest" inspired models, exploring structural build up, how to ‘feather’ our nests and the essential layout of living in the micro homes.

The Antepavilion Commission 2017

Milk took part of a local ideas competition by the Art House Foundation to design and potentially build an experimental rooftop structure for a sequence of installations by the Regent’s canal in Haggerston.

For the competition, we researched and aimed to produce ideas to engage with alternative ways of living within the city, new methods for urban dwelling; especially micro homes. The proposal also needed to have an engagement with issues of sustainability.
These are all ideas that Milk look to integrate throughout our projects and topical themes which are becoming increasingly important to design.

We set our concept ideas on the theme of Urban Nests. Nests inspired us to think of building your own home in the rooftops!
We planned to use reclaimed cross-laminated timber and recyclable lightweight plastics to play with transparency and privacy in the sky. The design was led by the nests to be as lightweight as possible, and to be able spread load to sit upon any rooftop in London. We imagine them to self-built pods for a series of activities and able to populate any rooftop.

We created models of our ‘nests' in teams, exploring structural build up, how to ‘feather’ our nests and the essential layout of living in the micro homes. It was great to enter the competition and discuss the other entries, we are looking forward to visiting the winning pavilion!

Curtain Road Proposals

Shoreditch has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. It’s derelict industrial building stock has been refurbished into loft apartments and offices for tech city, it’s night life has moved from red light to street food, and it’s shops from carpentry to fashion.

The next wave of development will bring a dozen luxury hotels and thousands of guests to do business, shop and relax in Shoreditch. So what should the good businesses and residents of Shoreditch offer their guests? What is Shoreditch hospitality? And how can this influx be used to build Shoreditch’s character without diluting it?

Curtain Road is the spine of the Shoreditch Triangle, it is sheltered from the peripheral traffic and has a wide south facing view to the heart of the city. Yet its pavements are narrow, one way traffic speeds north and buses park up as if it’s a forgotten backwater. So how can we change Curtain Road to reflect Shoreditch’s past and present character and in doing so invite our new hotel guests to join in?

With Milk’s focus on people-centric design, we felt a need to improve / animate the streetscape and bring people back to enjoying the street.

First, we imagine a single lane of traffic to claim back the pavements for people to enjoy, walk down and shop in a street market! The market could spill down the road integrating with current Shoreditch food culture. We propose a place to have lunch, in a secret garden courtyard; a place to shelter; to hang out and we even imagine splashing in a fountain. Curtain road could become a destination in itself.

These small scale interventions in the street consider ingredients such as existing street nodes, sunny spots, and local businesses. We love the addition of green walls, planting and trees to mark the ‘gateway’ into Shoreditch which can provide much needed green spaces in the city.  

We enjoyed exploring, imagining and generating ideas for Curtain Road as a practice and presenting them for London Festival of Architecture

We hope these small additions and collaging of architectural ideas can be built on and create a memorable daytime destination!


Pop up food stalls and farmers market with local produce providing delicious food for locals and tourists alike...

Cool down on a hot summer's day near a fountain and enjoy and alfresco lunch in a secret garden...

Pedestrianized streets means peaceful sunbathing on hot summer bank holidays and skating through the city.....

Bringing greenery to Shoreditch with green wall, trees and flower beds. Climb the Curtain Road Observation Tower for views of the city...

London Festival of Architecture Open Studio

We took part in London Festival of Architecture's East London Open Studios again this year, it's a great opportunity to get involved with the local community and meet local practices. This year's theme was "memory" so we spent time researching the history of Shoreditch to see how we could in improve the area for the future, focusing on a new streetscape for Curtain Road inspired by Shoreditch's history and as a reaction to Shoreditch's new role as a tourist destination.

In the weeks before our open studio we brainstormed ideas as a team for the proposal, creating a collage of ideas from our findings and updating our model. In previous years we have used our model to show the new developments taking place in the area, and asked what we could do in the spaces that the Developers left behind, prompting a dialogue on the expansion of the city. This year we added the Curtain Road proposals to the model giving visitors an opportunity to discuss how we can change the area for the better.

We opened our office during the afternoon and had a steady stream of visitors (a mix of architects, foreign students and local residents) who all had interesting views on our proposal and some who had fascinating memories of Shoreditch past...

Huge thanks to the London Festival of Architecture for organising it and we're looking forward to getting involved next year!

Designer Maker User at the Design Museum

Milk Structures worked with Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan on the Designer Maker User permanent exhibition at the new Design Museum in South Kensington.

We designed support for triple sign at the entrance, black trusses supporting various items including bicycles, support for motorway sign, red folded plate 'ribbon' to form base of circular display unit, lighting tracks, typical wall construction, ship container stability.

milk picnic 2016

Another successful and rain-free (don't let those umbrellas fool you...) milk picnic. We said goodbye to our lovely Bath students Toby and Emma, said hello to the newest member of the team Nicole, and Maryam officially became an architect!

This year's pavilion was designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Clerkenwell Design Week 2016

Fun afternoon out at Clerkenwell Design Week yesterday for our Milk Design Trip. We spent the afternoon going from exhibition to exhibition, from marquee to re-purposed cells to church crypts to nightclub (as always the buildings are just as much of a draw as the product design)

It was great to be all together discussing design and finding out about craftsmanship. We gave everyone a task to pick a material or object and find out how it was made.

milk picnic 2015

Another fun picnic in Hyde Park with our ever expanding milk family, the weather was temperamental but the company was great and the food and Prosecco flowed!