RISING STARS 2017 COHORT

Director, Ruff Architects

Part 2: 2007  Part 3: 2009

Paul Ruff’s practice Ruff Architects is only three years old yet it has already established itself among an impressive list of clients including Stanhope. This, along with the way Ruff set up his practice, prioritised certain aspects and grew the firm to six people so far, gave this year’s judges the confidence that he has the capacity to improve the industry.

A comment from his referee, Pinnacle Regen managing director Chris Turnbull, was difficult to ignore: ‘In terms of the industry’s Rising Stars, Paul should be top of your list,’ Turnbull says. ‘He is an individual who is already making a difference in architecture and the built environment and will be for years to come.’

  • Housing at McLeod Road, Anney Wood, London, designed by Paul Ruff to use a modular construction process.
    Housing at McLeod Road, Anney Wood, London, designed by Paul Ruff to use a modular construction process.
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Ruff is one of only two nominations this year who is explicitly working with modular construction and doing so creatively, with high quality design. At a time when the profession and even the political establishment see modular construction as the future of architecture, Ruff Architects is spearheading how it can be implemented – from single dwellings using modular elements to full volumetric design on a 50-unit mixed-use scheme in Abbey Wood and a 410 unit scheme in Stockwell, both in London.  

With a background of running multimillion pound projects at AHMM and Ian Ritchie Architects, Ruff quickly brought a variety of projects to his own practice, from complex inner-city masterplans to detailing bespoke joinery for private clients.

His expertise lies in his ability to tailor his services, from nurturing personal relationships on residential projects which have featured in The Sunday Times, to developing a commercially savvy approach as a core team member on large schemes. The work has a common denominator of quality and innovation regardless of sector or tenure. Social housing schemes on site include 21 flats and 19 terrace houses in Oxford, originally conceived with HAB Housing, on which the practice is executive architect. 

‘We try to better the quality of housing provision project by project, addressing wider issues of housing waiting lists and government construction targets,’ Ruff says. He is an invited lecturer and critic at Oxford Brookes University, and guest critic at Central Saint Martins.

  • Image by Ruff Architects, executive architects for this AHMM designed housing scheme.
    Image by Ruff Architects, executive architects for this AHMM designed housing scheme.
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What would you most like to improve about the industry? 

Housing is always at the forefront of architectural discussions. While delivering many different tenures in the studio, from private rental, market sale to 100% affordable, the quality of what is delivered remains paramount. Creating a home is different to providing housing stock. ‘Home’ lends itself to something outward looking and community creating, a pride in our towns, cities and urban environment. Through quality and thoughtful design at the smallest scale, the largest elements can change for the better. 

What existing building or place would you most like to tackle? 

London’s Zone 4!