6a architects

Their reputation is based on arts and cultural spaces that offer inventive solutions for contemporary galleries and fashion flagships

Tom Emerson (Paris, 1970) and Stephanie Macdonald (London, 1966) founded 6a Architects in London in 2001 after meeting at the Royal College of Art. Their reputation is based on arts and cultural spaces that offer inventive solutions for contemporary galleries (The Perimeter, London, 2017) and fashion flagships (Oki-ni, 2001, the firm’s first commission).

Their studio for the photographer Juergen Teller (2016) is a sequence of spaces daylit by gardens in a narrow plot in west London. Teller captured it in a provocative series of self-portraits, picturing himself naked atop a donkey against the elegant flight of concrete steps. The firm’s sensitive approach to materials includes board-marked concrete, blockwork and steel mesh, all applied with a delicate hand and attention to detail. The shininess of the corrugated metal facade of the extension to MK Gallery (2019) prevents the industrial feel the material might lend it, and rich detailing links the project to the identity and optimism of Milton Keynes as a new town.

A pair of conversion and restoration projects spaced eight years apart (2010, 2018) define the South London Gallery. The domestic rooms of a derelict house in Peckham and a fire station across the road were reconfigured to offer a cafe, galleries and room for an artist in residence, and at the same time reinvigorate a neglected portion of the high street.

For Cowan Court (2016), a 68-room student residence for the University of Cambridge, 6a Architects cladded the exterior with new and reclaimed oak in reference to the brutalist buildings and wooded setting of the campus. While having roots in research (Emerson is a professor and incoming dean at the ETH Zurich Department of Architecture), the practice is branching into residential buildings, with two towers due for completion in the HafenCity development in Hamburg, Germany, and upcoming projects in Melbourne and New York.

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