We deliver beautiful, sustainable buildings which clients love.
What We Do
Our buildings work well. Always sustainable, they make the best possible use of the site and the budget, they please our clients and they please the public. They are bold and uplifting on the outside, spacious and bright on the inside. They stand out but they are considerate to their context.
We tackle all sorts of building types and sizes, unique one-off homes, uplifting education spaces, commercial projects with design flair, luxury flats and cost-effective student accommodation: we come to each one with a genuinely creative approach. We are one of very few practices to have satisfied the planning policy permitting only ‘truly exceptional’ country houses.
It’s fair to say we have a design philosophy, with four common strands linking our buildings:
- First, our love of form-making. All our buildings are strong shapes containing great spaces to stir the soul.
- Second, a strong sense of order. Each of our buildings has a clear ordering principle which informs every part of it, so it all feels of a piece and quite natural.
- Third, we love light! Natural light flooding interior spaces is so good for the spirits but also so good for the architecture: we use it to articulate shape, space and surface.
- Fourth, a desire to design buildings which stand the test of time. The right moment to judge a building is fifty years hence. We avoid trendy notions and gizmos; we use ideas and materials which are robust and which will age with grace.
Why choose us
Choosing an architect is an important decision. Initial consultations are always free so please do get in touch with any questions you may have. In the meantime, here are some reasons you might consider working with Adrian James Architects.
- We are an RIBA Chartered Practice.
- All our architectural work is done under the supervision of an RIBA architect.
- A strong environmental policy guides our every action.
- We are experts in planning and supporting clients to gain planning permission.
- We have years of experience in running contracts on site with the ability to be demanding but fair.
- We are creative and innovative, many of our buildings have won awards.
The key players
Adrian James MA Dip Arch (Cantab) ARB RIBA
Trained at Cambridge University, Adrian worked on the design and procurement of exceptional buildings in the UK, the USA and Europe before settling in Oxford and starting his own studio. As well as managing the practice and ensuring its commitment to quality in all its architectural services, Adrian leads or guides the design development of all commissions. Adrian combines a passion for architecture with real expertise in steering projects through the planning process including, if necessary, planning appeals and public enquiries.
When he isn’t sketching he is climbing to the top of mountains the world over – and singing in the Oxford Gospel Choir.
Darren Riddle BA (Hons) Dip Arch (Kingston) ARB RIBA
Darren has come back into the AJA fold after a few years gaining valuable contractual and commercial experience elsewhere. He returns with bandwidth across many sectors and an assured mindset to help catalyse the practice’s growth.
Darren is absolutely in tune with the practice’s devotion to dynamic shape-making. He was born to the craft of architectural modelling and loves to design striking contemporary buildings which combine dramatic forms with the principles of sustainable architecture. His previous work on Oaklands and Incurvo embodies this holistic philosophy.
When Darren has any spare time from being the proud parent of two youngsters he gets physical in the gym or on the road.
Monika Palka MSc (Eng.) Architect ARB RIBA
We are delighted that Monika has chosen to return to AJA after spending the last few years honing her already considerable architectural skills in London and beyond. She brings an acute eye for detail and unrivalled technical expertise. Monika loves design of all sorts; interior, furniture, graphic, Japanese, Scandinavian. Oh, and she speaks six languages, sings, draws and paints.
Ruby Wilson BA(Hons) MArch (University of Westminster) ARB
Ruby is an essential cog in the AJA machine. With indefatigable efficiency she is managing several key projects at any time, while making sure each of her clients always gets priority. It’s a testament to her manifold skills across the design and management spectrum that she can meet all the demands of being a project architect without any compromise in service and yet with calm authority and equanimity. No wonder her previous employers want her back: she is ace.
Ruby is unstoppable in and out of the office; she runs or cycles to and from the office every day.
Jake Winter BA(hons) DipArch (London Metropolitan University) ARB
Freelance Project Architect
Jake designs and builds. He is both an experienced architect and a skilled carpenter and metalworker. As a nuts-and-bolts man he has great technical knowhow which feeds into his skill as a designer. Coming out of London, where he worked in some of London’s best practices, Jake has a track record of driving educational and residential projects through planning on tightly constrained urban sites. This experience makes him perfect for AJA.
James Ellwood Third Year Architecture Student at Brookes University
We were delighted to welcome James to the practice over the summer as an (award winning) student of architecture. He enjoys using a wide variety of software to create images that go beyond the architectural form to give a sense of place, idea or concept. James is now back at his studies but is, happily for us, on call to develop scrummy visualisations of our projects.
Sarah Shekleton MA Oxon
Sarah has already had four careers; in FMCG marketing, development, the not-for-profit sector and education. Managing AJA is her fifth adventure and her portfolio of responsibilities covers a cornucopia of areas. Ask her anything and she will set off at high speed to find an answer.