Joanna van Heyningen

Joanna van Heyningen

Practice: van Heyningen and Haward Architects
Established: 1983
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
[email protected]

Joanna van Heyningen founded van Heyningen and Haward Architects with Birkin Haward in 1983, and has been personally involved with most of the practice's projects. She teaches and lectures widely, and is a BDA award assessor, a trustee of the Building Centre, a member of the RIBA LSC Forum and a CABE Design Review panellist. The three recent projects illustrated here are all in the field of higher education - but with very different contexts and procurement routes.

van Heyningen and Haward Architects

West elevation
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Lerner Court, Clare College, Cambridge

Completed in 2009, Lerner Court creates a new quad, with existing buildings on two sides, a conference suite with a lecture theatre and meeting rooms on one side, and on the other, fellows' offices and 34 new study bedrooms. The new building occupies the last piece of undeveloped land in the central area of the college, next to Memorial Court - a series of landscaped courtyards designed for the college by Giles Gilbert-Scott and built in stages between 1929 and 1950.

West elevation
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How does diversity of people reveal itself at work? Our practice has two female partners and at least half of our staff has always been women. As in many other practices in recent years, our staff comes from a huge variety of backgrounds, with very varying degrees of knowledge, interest and skill. It has taught us that the British way of providing an architectural education is rivalled by others, many of which produce graduates with a lot more knowledge of how to build (but less of a grasp of conceptual design).
What do you find most rewarding in your area of work? In architecture, I find that bringing clarity and simplicity to a situation is particularly rewarding. This could be in interpreting the brief, or in taking an existing site which feels like nowhere and making it feel like somewhere. In the office, I have found it tremendously rewarding to have created a friendly environment where people feel they can really make a contribution.
How have your clients and projects benefited from your involvement? I think that what I have always had to offer is the ability to hear what the client really needs, and to help them identify their priorities. Although I have now been doing this for more than 30 years, our type of client constantly changes, so there is still a lot to learn. In terms of design I believe that my contribution is to bring clarity and legibility to our projects, without diminishing their sense of freshness and delight.