AJ Small Projects is a joyous celebration of big ideas realised on a small budget


Source:  Stefan Breuer

AJ Small Projects is surely one of the most joyful events in the architectural calendar, celebrating the vital and dynamic possibilities of working at a small scale and within modest budgets, says Emily Booth

It’s AJ Small Projects time! There’s something so pleasing about the creative ingenuity required to realise substantial aims with low-cost design. As ever, we’ve been impressed with the range and standard of entries.

There really is something for everyone. There are calm residential refurbishments, quiet places to sit, rural idylls and creative workspaces. There are clever cafés, quirky pavilions – and even a boathouse. Natural materials are in abundance, alongside a sense of being grounded in place and community.

One of the approaches that stood out for me was Sebastian Hicks’s Coforum (pictured), a circular timber frame structure upon which 110 bespoke collapsible chairs are hung. When they’re not in use, these create a sleek façade, closing off the central space. When people gather for performances and take down the chairs to sit on, the enclosure disappears, opening an internal space like an informal bandstand.


Everyone will have their favourite project: one that particularly intrigues and inspires. And in a time of stubbornly high inflation and spiralling costs, it’s good to recognise the value of what can be achieved when budgets are tight.

AJ Small Projects has been going for an amazing 28 years and our thanks go to everyone who has entered, to our wonderful judges who will hear from each of the project architects and decide the winning project on 3 May, and to our longstanding sponsor, Marley.

We look forward to welcoming readers to the celebration and exhibition directly following the judging event at Morris+Company’s office – please join us! Small projects, big ideas – enjoy!

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