March 23, 2024

Exploring Brighton’s architectural charm: A conversation with PMR Architecture’s Director

Words by

Abi Radford

Exploring Brighton’s architectural charm: A conversation with PMR Architecture’s Director

Working in the property industry means that we get to see some stunning homes. From Regency buildings characterised by their elegant facades, intricate balconies, and tiled fireplaces to sleek new builds with all the mod-cons – we love it all.

Being based in Brighton means that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by an architectural landscape that reflects the rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant atmosphere of the city. It also means we have access to many fantastic architects. We had a chat with Ashley Harrison, Director of PMR Architecture, about his role, what he loves about Brighton’s architecture, and what inspires him as an Architect. Read on to find out more.

A short history of Brighton’s architecture

Brighton’s architecture is a captivating blend of styles spanning centuries, from the charming Regency-era buildings to the contemporary marvels of today.

At the heart of the city’s architectural charm are the iconic Regency buildings, distinguished by their elegant facades, intricate balconies, and ornate stucco embellishments. Among these, the Royal Pavilion stands out as a masterpiece of Regency architecture. Originally built as a seaside retreat for King George IV in the early 19th century, its Indo-Saracenic design showcases domes, minarets, and opulent interiors influenced by Indian and Chinese aesthetics.

Beyond the Regency era, Brighton’s architectural diversity extends to Victorian and Edwardian gems such as the Town Hall and the Grand Hotel. These structures boast a fusion of ornate Victorian detailing and Edwardian refinement, contributing to the city’s rich architectural tapestry.

In addition to its historic charm, Brighton is also home to contemporary architectural landmarks. The i360, a futuristic observation tower designed by Marks Barfield Architects, offers panoramic views of the coastline and the South Downs. Its sleek, glass-clad design provides a striking contrast to the city’s historic buildings while harmonising with the coastal landscape.

Brighton’s architectural vibrancy extends beyond its landmark structures to its diverse neighbourhoods. From the quaint cottages of the Lanes to the vibrant terraces of Kemp Town, each area showcases a unique architectural character, reflecting the city’s cultural richness.

Whether exploring the promenade or wandering through Brighton’s historic lanes, visitors are treated to a visual feast of architectural wonders that seamlessly blend tradition with innovation, creating an unforgettable urban experience.

Number Twenty Four x PMR Architecture

We met Ashley from PMR Architecture at a networking event in Brighton and were keen to chat with him about his role at the company, and how he could help future Number Twenty Four clients. We had a fantastic conversation and here’s how it went.

Headshot of Ashley Harrison

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your role at PMR – what does it look like day-to-day?

A: As an Architect and one of the Directors of PMR Architecture, my role is extremely varied. From meeting with clients, sketching ideas, creating 3D models / walk-throughs / fly-throughs / 3D visualisations, and attending construction sites to ensure projects go smoothly. The day-to-day running of the business involves meeting with consultants, business development, and networking. Never a dull day, never a spare moment!

Q: What makes PMR unique?

A: The journey to achieving your extension, new build house, or commercial project can be a daunting one. It is a complex process with many participants involved to make it a reality. At PMR Architecture we aim to make it a process that is easy to follow so that you know exactly where you are and what is coming next. Key to this is good and frequent communication throughout.

We are an ambitious, multi-award winning, RIBA Chartered Practice. We have a wealth of experience working across a wide range of project sectors. We pride ourselves on being able to think outside the box and enjoy taking projects from conception through to completion. We take a strategic and holistic approach to each project, balancing the client’s aspirations and budget with the site constraints and context.

PMR Architecture has offices in both Newton Abbot in Devon and Brighton & Hove in East Sussex. With a fantastic team of Architects, Architectural Technicians, and Architectural Assistants, we have a reputation for delivering outstanding architectural service for both private and commercial clients, working collaboratively with our network of consultants and contractors.

Q: What services do you offer to Number Twenty Four clients?

A: As we offer services from concept through to completion, including planning, building regulations, and on-site assistance, we have both the experience and knowledge to provide advice on various matters to Number Twenty Four or directly to their clients.

For example, we can advise on planning implications and constraints if the property you are purchasing is a Listed Building, located within a conservation area / AONB, National Park and whether Permitted Development Rights are applicable. Furthermore, if you wish to maximise the ROI on the property you’re selling, we can advise on the opportunities of obtaining planning permission from the LPA on your property to sell with planning permission.

This advice can be provided through our ‘Ask An Architect’ event where clients can book a free 30-minute design consultation over Zoom or a free onsite consultation.

PMR Architecture - Interior of a seaside house

Q: How did you get into architecture in the first place?

A: I was very fortunate that I had a career direction from an early age. When I was 15 I had my first experience in an architectural practice and it opened my eyes to the role and the profession. I did not have any external influencers, i.e., no close family friends or family members who were Architects, nor anyone that was remotely connected to the construction industry. Therefore, it came down to a lot of research and patience, especially considering it takes a minimum of 7 years at University to qualify. The key thing that attracted me to the profession is architecture is about anticipating the future, and as Architects we can help shape it.

Q: What is your favourite thing about being an Architect?

A: Every day is different. As domestic and commercial Architects, we cover all project sectors, across the whole of the South Coast (supported with offices in both the South East and South West), from small to large budgets. With each project and each client comes different constraints, and one of the most satisfying parts of the job is unlocking complex schemes and solving problems to meet the client’s aspirations.

Q: What is your favourite area/building of Brighton & Hove, and why?

A: Brighton & Hove is a bit of an anomaly in the UK. It is constrained to the South by the sea and to the North by the South Downs National Park. Centrally, a dense conservation area with a huge collection of Listed Buildings, and limited scope. However, there are also pockets in the city where there is significant flexibility in terms of architectural styles and design. It creates an interesting dynamic and results in every project needing to be carefully considered.

PMR Architecture - Brighton home example

Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A: As bespoke Architects, we do not have an in-house style, and we never adopt a ‘cookie cutter approach’ to design. Therefore, one of my favourite aspects of the job is working closely with clients to define their brief and involve them in the design process to give them a sense of ownership. This process takes patience but always results in considered architecture.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Architecture as a profession is always evolving. As a practice, we are always researching new technologies, new styles, new materials, etc. to ensure our designs respond to the ever-changing natural environment. The construction sector is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 37% of global emissions, so our focus on renewable energies, responsive architecture, and sustainable materials is vital.

If you’re thinking of taking on a project and need guidance from an Architect, Ashley and the team at PMR are on hand to help. You can contact them here

PMR Architecture - Example of their work

How to get in contact with us

If you’re thinking of selling – now, or in the future – contact us for a friendly no-obligation chat. We love looking around properties and would be more than happy to come and meet you and give you an honest valuation of your home.

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