Published: 10/05/2021As an architect and a developer, Jake Edgley has experience in spades and yet he exudes calm. If you were in a crisis situation, you’d want him around. A father of three, he built their home in Dulwich whilst living out of a caravan, after selling their home in North London for a site without planning. It took several years to be completed as he decided to self-build with a team of friends, and adopt the lost art of board marked concrete, which took considerable research and experimentation.
His wife is a very patient lady.
This desire to explore techniques and ideas became a habit which he cherishes, as it enables him to test out some of his more radical ideas, assimilating cost, time taken and accomplishment, before recommending them to clients, from his RIBA award winning practice, ‘Edgley Design’.
Son of an aeroplane designer and a silversmith artist, it’s no surprise he grew up making things. Drawn to science and art, architecture was the perfect fit. Having qualified, he took a year off to travel around New Zealand and Australia where his interest in sustainable materials was piqued, before returning home to Islington and purchasing a backland site.
Here again, there was no guarantee that he would ever be able to build what he wanted, but after a few years, perseverance paid off and he built two beautifully crafted houses behind Chapel Market. At the same time he opened his practice specialising in these types of backland sites and sustainable homes.
Due to his understanding of the process, private developers seek him out when valuing a site and advising on planning. When I ask what his favourite part of the process is, he says it's the “building the site, the making of it. The end is always tinged with sadness as the journey is completed.” There is something frontier like about designing and building a home. “You are creating something from nothing that is a living, functional thing that you hope will stand the test of time. You don’t decide to build your own home if you don’t have an adventurous spirit.”
Edgely became so engrossed in the finer details, he and his select team now design their own CNC 3D joinery that eliminates the need for glue or a joinery workshop for manufacturing, the builder can assemble the flatpack joinery on site. He’s also taken to creating chandeliers made from offcuts of their buildings – please see their Instagram for examples. Currently they are working on a number of projects and Edgley’s own, which involves converting a Funeral Parlour, where he recently uncovered and preserved a 200 year old shop fascia that was hidden beneath, and creating another home to the rear of it.
I wonder what the next challenge is and Jake replies “to create a series of Eco houses outside London with their own sub community.” So ‘frontier town’ it is then!
To me, Edgley’s style seamlessly merges contemporary and organic materials to create spaces that exude aesthetic calm. Maximizing light to fall on beautifully orchestrated linear lines that cast mesmerizing patterns throughout the day.
Over the years Fyfe has had the pleasure of selling a few of Edgelys properties, and the reactions of buyers is always wonderful to watch. It’s as if they are walking into an Art installation piece which evokes a sense of wonder accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to jump up and down.
So when it comes to choosing an Architect, who would you choose? The one who puts his money where his mouth is or one who just spends others. I for one, know which one I’d choose.