Seeking Meaning and Beauty in Sustainable Design
Manifest Design Workshop Ltd is a multi-disciplinary architect's practice and craft workshop based in Eynsham in west Oxfordshire, on the edge of the Cotswolds. A unique combination, we weave together architectural design experience with practical craftsmanship and philosophical research in our informed approach to building.
Specialising in the conservation of historic buildings, we also delight in new designs carried out with traditional craftsmanship and natural, breathable, low-carbon materials. We are trained oak-framers, working in the English tradition of scribed carpentry, specialising also in earth and straw constructions, able to design, specify and build. History informs the new, and our experience of the new informs the conservation of historic fabric and anatomies.
For us, architecture begins with an intense involvement with the people on the ground and the materials to hand, combining our practical skills and extensive knowledge of historic building techniques with excellent design abilities to produce buildings which lie close to the earth and lift the human spirit. We believe that our relationship with the natural world is full of poetry and meaning, and that architecture can show the way to enjoying this relationship to an ever closer degree.
Manifest Design Workshop's approach is to let those techniques developed in the age before oil, and perfected over millennia, to inform new ecological and community-led design.
In a new era dedicated to the transition from an oil-based economy, more emphasis is placed on locality. This means not only the use of local and appropriate materials, but more particularly the local human community. Manifest's architecture draws inspiration from what is literally the hand-made architecture of the past.
Thus the local landscape is the basis for design: not merely the physical landscape, but that which grows out of the locality: culture, history, folklore and people are essential and vital parts of this building activity.
Hugh Conway Morris BA (Hons) MArch RIBA AABC
Hugh is a principal architect, craftsman and director of Manifest Design Workshop Ltd, and has run the practice since founding it in 2009.
Hugh studied architecture at the University of Sheffield. Following graduation, he worked as both designer and carpenter for the Kós Károly Association in Hungary and Transylvania (Romania), also working as project manager for the Opre Roma Community building group in Debrecen, eastern Hungary.
Having returned to England, Hugh developed his expertise in the conservation of historic buildings, already inspired by the living traditions of Romania and Hungary. Working first in Bath, then on the well-known Lethaby Scholarship sponsored by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), he then took up positions in Oxfordshire and Berkshire for conservation specialists Nick Cox and Peter McCurdy, again as both carpenter and architect.
Hugh is now a very active member of the SPAB, sitting on and reporting to committees and carrying out casework, as well as acting as visiting specialist in timber conservation at the Society's annual working parties. He is registered with the Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC), and is on the list of approved architects for church work in the Diocese of Oxford.
Hugh's love of material, and timber especially, has also led to his membership of the Carpenters' Fellowship, the British Woodcarvers' Association, Earth Building UK & Ireland, and the Oxfordshire Woodland Group.
Hugh's position at Manifest enables him to pursue his passion for the revelation of the built form through context - community, natural and spiritual - to engage through real materials with real people in the world, and to bring into being beautiful, meaningful and sustainable buildings.
In his spare time, Hugh enjoys making music, and sings as a baritone with the choir of the Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (where he has also given several talks and a sermon on the subjects of architecture and the infusion of the material with the spiritual), as well as in the prestigious contemporary chamber choir Commotio. Hugh is a keen amateur star-gazer and gardener, and enjoys long-distance walks, birdwatching, and reading history and philosophy.
Photo credit: Lucy C. Stewart
Peter Preston BA (Hons) DipArch MSc (Timber Building Conservation) RIBA
At Manifest, Peter continues to pursue these interests, inspired by his fascination with historic buildings to create a new architecture which is informed by the past, rooted in its cultural context and grounded in tradition, yet is relevant to our contemporary world in design and meaning. This remit includes both the creative re-use and adaptation of old buildings, and the inspiration by their vernacular principles to build new structures that meet modern standards while lifting the human spirit above the mundane.