How We Work

Solearth’s design method is systematic, integrated and progressive, proceeding from analysis through design concept and on to developed and detail designs and completion. Ideas and proposals are tested and refined in an iterative process – combining the pragmatic and the intuitive. We design in a way that is partly collaborative valuing the many voices (client, user, planner, consultant, builder) while ensuring that a cohesive clear design, which optimises the many pressures and opportunities involved, emerges.


Initial design ideas are generated from analysis of site, budget, brief and the ecological opportunities that the context offers. These are developed in consultation with the client and end user, and communicated via sketches, photographs and models.

  • brief research – climate and environmental context, energy cycles, material flows
  • brief scoping – social aspects, context and historic context
  • brief analysis – surface areas/sizes, spatial relationships, cost implications
  • brief evaluation – precedents, site visit studies, immediate and larger context
  • initial concept – concepts, patterns, relationships,
  • initial design – figure-ground, spaces, forms.


Design development is pursued through drawing, physical and digital modelling involving environmental analysis as well as explorations of form. Design options are refined iteratively and environmental perfomance evaluated to ensure an optimistion of quantitative and qualitative benefit. While the rigours of budget, planning and building regulation are paramount inputs, environmental concerns are also prioritised, unlocking as they do the outsize benefits to be found in natural daylight and ventilation, ease of use, low running costs and comfort.

  • outline design 1 – plan; arrival, organisation, circulation
  • outline design 2 – section; daylight and ventilation, spatial connections
  • design – energy, passive design, carbon neutral / energy-plus
  • design – scale and measurement – precision, proportion, cost implications
  • regulation; planning applications, univeral access, fire protection certifcates.
  • developed design – structural integrity, tectonics, legibility.


Detail design is steered by the original design concept, client preferences (including budget) and by the values around materials of the practice. It is processed through drawing, mock-ups, product samples and visual simulation as well as prototype production on occasion.

  • detail design – materiality, material properties, tactility, depth
  • detail design – enjoyment of craft and economy of means, scale and measurement/ proportion
  • production design – energy & resource intelligence, servicing logic, cost implications
  • final detail – precision, pragmatics, integratedness, completeness
  • building, constructing, commissioning and inhabiting the design – the realisation of these values.