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axis design architects

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practice

Axis Design Architects are housing design experts based in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

The company directors – Mike Menzies and Rob Annable – have many years experience delivering projects of all scales, from neighbourhood masterplanning and estate wide consultation exercises to individual residential design and domestic refurbishment.

Sustainability and environmental design experience lie at the core of everything we do, with new proposals developed through both practice and theory thanks to our regular involvement in research projects. Our work with communities and the public sector also makes us ideally placed to assist resident groups and charities to realise new community centre buildings.

Thanks to our own personal experience in the self-build sector, we’re able to offer design, guidance and support to clients who wish to make their own home.

Our projects are developed and delivered using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, providing accuracy and efficiency in our work and the ability to render and visualise projects throughout each stage of the design process.

Originally formed in 1982 by 4 founding partners (including current company Director Mike Menzies), the practice was previously called Axis Design Collective and then incorporated in 2008 to become Axis Design Architects Ltd.

Rob Annable BA (Hons), PG Dip Arch, RIBA

Director – Axis Design Architects Ltd

Education: Birmingham School of Architecture (First class honours + PG Dip Distinction)

Since joining Axis Design after graduation in 1998, Rob has been involved in many housing, masterplanning, consultation, design-led projects.

Project experience includes the design and delivery of affordable housing for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust; project architect for the highly regarded Brandwood End housing in Birmingham; designing innovative eco-friendly housing in Stourbridge; extensive consultation and masterplanning exercises across the West Midlands; award-winning energy efficient refurb projects in Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Custom Build site layout architect for Stoke on Trent City Council. Rob often undertakes R&D into new methods of working and communication using digital tools, as well as materials and detailing challenges in energy efficient construction. He has recently completed his own self-build project in Wolverhampton, which is shortlisted for a National construction award.

Additional roles: Visiting Tutor, Birmingham School of Architecture MA Arch course

Mike Menzies Dip Arch.(Hons). Dipl.Urban Design

Director – Axis Design Architects Ltd

Education: Aberdeen School of Architecture (Winner of the Rowand Anderson Silver Medal)

Mike’s career began in 1971 and he in that time he has been a Research Associate on ‘Making Towns Better’ project at CURS and lectured at the University of Birmingham between 1972 and 1974. He formerly worked with Michael Laird & Partners and Keith Hatwood Associates and took up a Senior Lectureship in Environmental Psychology at Birmingham School of Architecture between 1976 and 1985. He formed Menzies and Goodall in 1980 and went on to be a founding partner of Axis Design Collective in 1981.

A major characteristic of many of Mike’s projects has been the role played by users/community groups as part of the client body and the management of their participation in partnership with funding agencies. He was masterplanning co-ordinator for Pype Hayes, Castle Vale HAT (1995-98), The Lyng, Coalville & the highly regarded development of Brandwood End in Kings Heath . Recent work includes urban design in Blurton, Normacot, Lyndhurst, building projects at Denham Square and Ingestre Square, Stoke on Trent and collaborator on the Eco Terraces initiative. He has also played a leading role in Axis Design Architects’ work for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust.

projects

  • all projects
  • community
  • housing
  • self build
  • sustainability

Lyng wins Housing Excellence Awards

We congratulate Wendy and all the Lyng Community Association Board on winning the Housing Excellence Award 2014  in the Regeneration Category. Who would have imagined that all those meetings back in late 2000, those cold and wet evenings, busy weekends workshops and lengthy discussions about the finer points of housing design would be so successful. …

Weston Heights Neighbourhood Regeneration

In January 2004 Axis Design were interviewed by the Coalville Partnership to undertake an Estate Masterplan for the redevelopment of the Coalville Estate, Stoke on Trent. A decade later members of the Coalville Partnership, Stoke-on-Trent Council officers and members, Compendium Living, Coalville Residents Association, Riverside and residents of the redevelopment now named Weston Heights came …

Blurton Hub – official opening

One of the most enjoyable aspects of our work in community projects is getting to know the neighbourhood we’re working in over a long period of time and being able to see a project through from start to finish. Blurton in Stoke on Trent is one such project that we’ve had the privilege of being …

Self Build on a Shoestring

As part of our work to develop new cost effective self-build strategies we recently prepared a submission to the NaSBA Self Build on a Shoestring competition. Although we weren’t successful it was great to see that a number of submissions had proposed a similar concept to ours, exploring the possibilities of single storey housing. The …

Meon Grove completed

Our latest completed project for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust is looking great in the sunshine. The final phase of flats has now been occupied alongside the houses that were handed over a few months ago and this morning we’ve been out in Garretts Green to take a few photos. Garretts Green, begun in 1939 and …

Greenbuild Awards 2013

Last week we attended the Greenbuild Expo in Manchester, exploring innovative products such as load bearing insulation for thermal bridge reduction and recycled plastics for external works. We also had the pleasure of being finalists in the Greenbuild Awards. The Greenbuild Awards 2013 recognise true achievement looking for low-energy buildings that go the extra mile …

BMHT and the Pype Hayes Estate

Axis Design joined the team of Architects for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) in 2009. Since then we’ve worked on a number of sites, 5 of which are now complete. This important work to deliver quality homes for Birmingham City Council continues and we’ve had a busy few months working on several new sites. As …

BMHT – Client of the Year

A few weeks ago Axis Design nominated the BMHT team at Birmingham City Council for WMCCE’s Client of the Year award. We were invited to join Capita Symond’s table at the annual Celebrating Construction awards dinner last week and we were delighted to learn that our nomination had been successful. Here’s what the judges said: …

Custom Home Build event

Final preparations are under way for our collaboration with Stoke City Council and Buildstore next week at the launch of the Custom Home Build project. Initial proposals for one of the sites being offered are complete and we’ll be presenting them to the public and discussing the future of the scheme. To get the debate …

New Homes at Warren Road, Stoke-on-Trent

We’ve been working on a development in Chell Heath on behalf of Stoke on Trent City Council and Staffordshire Housing Association. Planning approval for 17 purpose-built bungalows was secured in early 2010 and the £1.5m development was delivered under a Design & Build Contract by Seddon Construction. Designed for elderly and disabled residents, these are …

Brandwood End

Care of Podnosh, have a listen to Brandwood End Resident’s Group Chairman, Steve Walters, and other residents talk about the history of the Brandwood End housing project in Kings Heath, Birmingham: listen to ‘Steve Walters of Brandwood End Residents Association in Birmingham’ on Audioboo

Self-Build in Stoke-on-Trent

We’re delighted to report that along with our team of sub-consultants, we have been successful in a competitive tender for Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s first Custom Home Building project. The former Penkhull Farm site on Newcastle Lane in Stoke-on-Trent has been chosen by Stoke City Council and the design team led by Axis Design will be …

Multiple Awards Success for BMHT

Axis Design have been working with Birmingham City Council since 2009 to help deliver the local authority’s ambitious social housing project, Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT). To date we have designed new housing on seven different sites across Birmingham and over the last few months, the team’s hard work has been rewarded with a total …

Project of the decade – Camp Hill

An update on one of our previous projects… A number of years ago we designed the first phase of a project called Pride in Camp Hill in Tuttle Hill, Nuneaton. We’ve mentioned it here previously in the project section but we’re returning to it again today and sharing more images because we’ve just discovered that …

I want to be an architect

We’ve been visited today by an A-level student who had the foresight to visit a number of offices to find out more about the profession before she committed herself to life as an architect. To complete her experience it seemed appropriate to ask her to blog about her experience… When I tell people I want …

Moors Lane, Bartley Green

Our latest housing planning submission is a development of our BMHT work, delivering 12 new Code Level 4 houses on a difficult infill site in Bartley Green. Unusually for a project like this, the best layout solution proved to be to follow a similar arrangement to the previous housing on the site. The challenge with …

Blurton Hub PV array

Blurton Hub, originally uploaded by axisdesign. Construction of the community centre at the heart of our masterplan for Blurton in Stoke on Trent continues with the installation of a large photovoltaic array that will benefit from the Feed in Tariff. The 8 kWp system will deliver signifcant daytime electrical load helping to power a 33kW …

BMHT – Pershore Road opening

Pershore Road opening, originally uploaded by axisdesign. The first of our Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust projects was handed over recently and we were delighted to take part in the ceremony and meet the family moving in. Here are some details from the press release: “The homes are the first to be delivered by Birmingham City …

Brandwood End Passive Solar

Today sees the official opening of the passive solar spaces we designed on behalf of Waterloo Housing for the latest phase of Brandwood End in Kings Heath. Thanks to funding assistance from Birmingham City Council we’ve been able to provide two storey glazed spaces to the rear of ten houses of mixed tenure. Designed as …

focp shelter

This week we’ve been working on sketch proposals for a building for the Friends of Cotteridge Park resident group. Designed to be a robust part of the landscape that can be quickly/cheaply put up in stages, the project uses a combination of off-the-shelf products and earth sheltering. You can see full details at the project …

visit ecoterrace phase 2

Works is progressing well with phase 2 of the ecoterrace project and like the previous properties we’ll be taking part in some open days for the public. Come along and visit us! 107/109 London Road, Chesterton, Newcastle Under Lyme, ST5 7JE Open days: 7th March 10am-2pm 14th March 10am-2pm 4/6 Victoria Street, Chesterton, Newcastle Under …

2008 Award Winners

Following a busy month of award shortlists, we’re delighted to announce that ecoterrace has won Building magazine’s ‘99% Campaign Award for Refurbishment’. The project was also a finalist in the CIH Housing Awards and Inside Housing magazine’s Sustainability Awards. Queens Road was also a finalist in the Inside Housing magazine award, shortlisted under ‘Sustainable smaller …

ecoterrace highly commended

We can announce that our ecoterrace project has been highly commended at the recent Staffordshire Construction Awards. We’re looking forward to phase 2 and the delivery of the next four properties.

Denham Square latest news

The first properties proposed as part of our Blurton masterplan document are nearing completion. Here’s an image of the bungalows at the centre of the courtyard.

Queens Road completed

Our Ecohomes ‘excellent’ rated housing designed for Kier Group and Black Country Housing has been completed. More photos and the original sketch designs are available here: Queens Road

ecoterrace opening

The first two ecoterrace properties are now complete! 91 London Road and 63 Booth Street were officially opened with the help of renowned ecologist David Bellamy. If you ‘d like to come along and visit the houses we’re having a number of open days during the next few weeks. Full details can be found on …

ecoterrace open days

May 12th will see the official opening of the first two properties at a specially organised launch event. After that 63 Booth Street and 91 London Road are being opened for public viewing over several days in May 2008. If you’d like to take a look and discuss the project with team members, feel free …

ecoterrace.co.uk news

The first two properties on our ecoterrace project are almost complete. Visit our dedicated web site for more info: http://ecoterrace.co.uk If you’d like to hear more about the project we’ll be presenting the project and taking part in a discussion panel at Think08 on May 7th.

Queens Road progress

Here’s the latest image from our project in Stourbridge. This shot shows the way each of the properties has a slightly different relationship with the street, depending on the paving and the door position. Construction should be completed soon. We’ve also submitted the project for a Building For Life award – we hope to get …

ecoterrace.co.uk

For the last few months we’ve been working on a project to refurbish 6 terrace properties in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. We won the project after a competitive bid last summer and last week saw the launch of the public web site charting the progress of the work. We’ll be recording the project on the eocterrace web site …

Eco-terrace – Stoke on Trent

Architecture Week 2007 is a good time to announce one of our latest commissions to develop an environmentally sound refurbishment proposal for terrace properties in Stoke-on-Trent. Continuing our explorations into solar passive architecture, the design delivers robust, replicable solutions to both the improvement of the fabric, the quality of the living space and the thermal …

Eco-housing planning approval

One of our latest projects has just been granted planning approval by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. The design responds to tight site constraints and a brief calling for an exemplar, environmentally friendly scheme. Carefully orientated to make the most of the south-east and south-west sun, the saw-tooth layout and innovative roof plan create an animated, …

Brandwood End

Kings Heath, Birmingham 2001—present A 1950’s estate of some 250 Smiths houses being redeveloped in association with Waterloo Housing Association, Birmingham City Council and the local resident’s Estate Development Group. The new homes are being built in phases and the brief is quite simply to recreate the Arts & Crafts residential and environmental qualities of …

Blurton, Stoke on Trent

Blurton, Stoke on Trent, 2005—present Axis Design were appointed by Aspire Housing to provide consultation and masterplanning services for an estate of approximately 3500 households. Alongside the standard methods of enquiry we provided a custom built web site to enhance the reach of the consultation process.

Upton, Northampton, Site B

Upton, Northampton, Site B – 2004 The brief for this second phase of the new urban village at Upton Northamptonshire called for a high density mixed use urban quarter combining flats and townhouses within a clear hierarchy of urban spaces.

Beaumont Leys, Leicester, 2004—Present

Strasbourg Drive, Beaumont Leys, Leicester, 2004—Present Axis successfully bid for the redevelopment of this housing estate in Leicester which incorporated selective demolition and the construction of 134 new mixed tenure properties comprising bungalows, flats and houses, along with extensive landscaping and reconfiguring of the existing road network.

Stoke Road, Bletchley

Stoke Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes 2004 — present Axis Design Collective won an invited competition for the development of 94 canal side apartments, townhouses and bungalows in the Bletchley area of Milton Keynes. The development was derived from a very detailed set of development design codes that stipulated building heights, frontage treatments and materials to …

Coalville, Stoke on Trent

Coalville, Stoke on Trent, 2004—present Axis design were appointed by the Coalville Partnership in January 2004 after winning the competitive tender for the remodelling of the estate consisting of 400 coal board houses dating from the 1950’s. Axis undertook a programme of intensive community consultation with local residents which included setting up a dedicated residents …

Upton, Northampton, Site A

Upton, Northampton, Site A 2003 The brief for this first phase of the new urban village at Upton Northamptonshire called for a high density mixed use urban quarter combining flats, townhouses and bungalows within a clear hierarchy of urban spaces.

Chatham Road

Northfield, Birmingham, 2002—present day Axis is working with Birmingham Housing Dept & Touchstone Housing Association on this project. Chatham Road involves the demolition of the majority of existing Smiths housing, with the retention of 14 dwellings. Approximately 65 dwellings will be new build with a mixed tenure allocation, whilst a 60 bed Extra Care scheme …

Tuttle Hill

Camp Hill, Nuneaton 2002-2005 Axis acted as architectural and urban design consultants for Lovell Partnerships who won the competition to be involved in phase 1 of this Urban Villages Initiative. The project, supported by the Princes Foundation, Advantage West Midlands, Touchstone Housing Association and Pride in Camphill involves the construction of 172 homes of mixed …

Egghill

Egghill Estate, Birmingham 2001—2003 Axis produced a masterplan for the rebuilding of the Egghill Estate in south Birmingham, an estate of 560 dwellings built in the 50s and 60s. Working from an office in an empty ground floor flat, Axis carried out consultation with residents which leading to an agreed masterplan for new dwellings, road …

The Lyng

West Bromwich 2000-2003 Axis in association with Beazer Partnerships, now Kier Partnerships, won the competition to create a new urban quarter for the Lyng.

Castle Vale HAT

Castle Vale, Birmingham 1995—2002 Axis have worked on the Castle Vale estate since 1995 on a number of projects from area based, Neighbourhood Strategy consultative design to the detailed design of houses, flats and bungalows. On both the Sopwith Croft and Watton Green areas we worked from a locally based neighbourhood design office meeting with …

Pype Hayes Estate

Pype Hayes, Birmingham 1989– present The rebuilding of the Pype Hayes Estate in Birmingham is Axis’s longest-running job. It was a low-rise suburban council estate built in the 1930s, of about 1400 houses. Although the houses were of conventional appearance, they were built of an untested concrete panel system, and by the 1980s it was …

research

  • all research
  • construction
  • digital
  • theory

Art for art’s sake or money for God’s sake

A recent editorial in Housing Association magazine questioning the need for architects in the field of housing design prompted us to reply. Here’s our response, printed in October’s issue of the magazine. (PDF copy) In challenging your view of architects happily colouring drawings devoid of practical nous, I do not wish to fall into the …

The single-storey story

From its origins in the Indian sub-continent through the British Raj to post war coastal development and urban fringe sprawl, the bungalow has a contradictory, almost schizophrenic, existence in Britain. On the one hand, reviled in the UK press as early as the twenties as ‘bungaloid’ sprawl but on the other hand, consistently voted as …

existenzminimum

Mike considers the reality of space standard minimums and examples of UK housing: Recent debate about the value of delivering smaller houses, with or without government subsidy, reignites the professions enduring interest in existenzminimum, the minimum habitable area in support of subsistence life. Internationally much debated within CIAM & Demos throughout the early to mid-twentieth …

Custom Build Roundup 2013

2013 has been a busy year at Axis Design for self-build and custom build ideas and projects. Here’s a roundup of all the progress we’re making supporting people looking for alternative choices to the standard housing market. Stoke-on-Trent Custom Build Our involvement with one of the UK’s earliest custom build projects has continued this year …

Niemeyer living on

Research and Development is tough. Thankfully we’re fully committed to continual professional development here at Axis Design and even go so far as undertaking long distance travel to learn more about the profession we love. For example, here’s some thoughts from Axis director Mike Menzies following a recent trip to Brazil: “Back in the early …

Building Information Models – BIM and BMHT

Construction is well underway on Meon Grove, one of our projects for Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT). We’re working with Jessup Brothers Ltd who are building 12 houses and 18 flats to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 using a predominantly ‘fabric-first’ strategy. This is the first project we’ve developed as a full Building Information …

Custom Home Build Finance

Custom Home Build continues to get the support it deserves from numerous organisations, funders and commentators at the moment and financial support for self-build groups being provided by the government is helping to kickstart a number of projects. These early adopters will get to explore all the ways that building a home for your family …

BMHT Consultation Event Success

Over 50 local residents and community representatives came along to the public consultation event held in Ladywood last month for the latest Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) scheme we’ve been working on. We have developed 3D models in BIM which allowed residents to take them on virtual journey through the proposals, giving them a clear …

3D Laser Scanning

A few weeks back, we recorded Severn Partnership carrying out a 3D laser scan of one of our projects. Take a look: We think this technology could play an crucial role in our future retrofit projects to improve accuracy and increase the quality of our output from BIM.

Making PassivHaus Affordable

Together with our project partners at Brooks Devlin, Capita Symonds and EH Smith, along with specialist product suppliers, we gathered together 17 housing associations and representatives from the HCA to share Passivhaus construction principles at a dedicated event in Birmingham City Centre on 21st February. Our affordable PassivHaus project was initially created in response to a …

week #5: BIM and the SME @ WMCCE

In week #5 of 2012 we’ve been talking about drawing in 2012 and how it should speak of the poetry and the data in our architecture… Last week we took part in the WMCCE seminar on Building Information Modelling and presented a talk on how our decision to adopt BIM across the office has improved …

Launch of Affordable Passivhaus Project

Week notes #3 & #4… Lately it’s been all about http://affordablepassivhaus.info: Over the last few months we have been carrying out a detailed R&D project into making Passivhaus design principles a financially viable option for social housing. Working alongside environmental designers, and certified European Passivhaus consultants Brooks Devlin, our proposals for an affordable Passivhaus were …

Sharing our BIM experience

Axis Design have adopted a full BIM strategy this year and all our future projects will be delivered using Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD. There are many aspects to how this will change the way we work and collaborate with others in 2012 and beyond. As part of our ongoing to commitment to sharing best practice knowledge we …

ecoterrace design guide

Over at ecoterrace.co.uk we’ve launched our latest online tool for sharing information about our approach to sustainability. Click on the link below to visit the new design guide and then you can choose to be taken on a tour by pressing the play button or simply choose your own adventure by clicking on slides and …

Collaboration Café Symposium

If you’re interested in hearing more about how we use both online and offline tools to help us collaborate better with clients and the public, come along to The Building Centre on Tuesday 30th to hear Rob Annable talk at the Collaboration Cafe Symposium event organised by Slider Studio Speakers Include: Michael Kohn, Slider Studio …

blurtonvision.co.uk

blurtonvision.co.uk needs your help… the new web site allows anyone who wants to take part in creating news about the neighbourhood to tell a story. You could write something, take pictures or videos or even just use your mobile to send text messages. We’d like to hear from any residents in Blurton Farm, Newstead or …

British Homes Awards – Gran Designs

The quality of supported housing for the 55+ market in the UK is a topic we’ve been discussing here at Axis Design a lot over the last few years. This year’s brief for the British Homes Awards gave us the opportunity to explore some of our ideas and show how we believe the industry could …

YouCanPlan Lozells

After months of intensive collaboration with software developers Slider Studio, we can now announce the launch of our latest development in community consultation innovation. On behalf of Birmingham City Council and Urban Living we’ve created a 3D software platform for the Lozells neighbourhood that allows residents to see the latest proposals for the area by …

be2camp

We recently took part in the be2camp ‘unconference’ in London. The aim of the day was to discuss and share ideas about how ‘web 2.0’ or social media tools on the internet can be used by the built environment. Along with Micheal Kohn from Slider Studio we presented our first images on the development work …

Birmingham Climate Change Festival

If you’d like to talk to us about our work and find out more about projects such as Queens Road or ecoterrace.co.uk, please come and visit us at the Climate Change Festival next week. We’ll be taking part in ‘Green Technology Day’ on Wednesday 4th June. *Update:* The event was a great success and we …

Think08 conference

Axis Design Director, Rob Annable, will be attending Think 08 next week and taking part in the session at 4:30pm on the 7th, thanks to an invite to present from Phil Clark. Here’s the summary of the session: Embracing the existing estate and communities What’s already built is a much greater part of our built …

Ecobuild 2007

Notes from a recent trip to the Ecobuild conference: It goes like this: DETR figures state that for a neighbourhood to be served by a viable transport network you need 5000 dwellings. To design a ‘walkable’ neighbourhood we should provide all key facilities within a 10 minute walk. This defines an area contained within a …

Euroclad commendation!

We’re delighted to report that our entry for the Euroclad competition has been awarded a commendation. This was the last collaboration between Tony and Rob before Tony’s untimely death, so it seems particularly fitting that it might achieve an award. Rob will be in London attending the awards ceremony on October 19th.

Euroclad competition

Here’s our entry to the Euroclad drawing competition, which asked entrants to ‘sketch a fresh look for Brighton’s West Pier’. Chambers for a Brighton Memory Palace Concept: “The first pier at Brighton was known as The Chain Pier, and there was a silhouettist working on it throughout most of it’s history. The slhouettists moved to …

Making Urban Places

The partners here at Axis Design have a long history of teaching (working here is always an education!) and at the office we have copies of lecture notes and books that are all worthy of re-publishing via the web. Under a new category simply entitled ‘notes’ we will be posting urban design lecture notes to …

Diagrams

Part of the goal of Open Practice day this Friday is to talk about how architects work. One of the projects available for viewing on Friday will be some recent design work for a single domestic residence on a challenging suburban site. The challenges of difficult access, overlooking from nearby houses and substantial level changes …

Summary of online consultation

A summary document outlining the work completed in Blurton and Normacot using online consultation techniques is now available. We will make some computers available for people to explore the sites during their visit on ‘Open Practice’ day. Click here to download the PDF document. Here’s an excerpt from the document: By including the use of …

How we work…

How we work as community architects We are a Midlands based practice with over 20 years experience in public consultation work at a variety of project scales. We enjoy the work and are committed to finding win/win solutions to often conflicting demands.

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