In Conversation with: Jonathan Tuckey

Founder, Tuckey Design Studio

@tuckeydesignstudio @jonathantuckeydesign

Love Olympia - INTERVIEW

A long-time West London resident who now calls Olympia home for his studio too, Jonathan founded his practice on the principle of reuse. Over the past 25 years, Tuckey Design Studio has garnered an international reputation for radically transforming existing buildings and sustainable new-build construction. The studio specialises in historic renovation, sustainable intervention and combining contemporary design with layers of built heritage to explore ways in which old and new can co-exist and elevate one another. Their portfolio spans residential, cultural and commercial projects, with commissions that include the interior architecture for the King’s Cross Gasholders, Michelberger Hotel in Berlin, Trevarefabrikken hotel and cultural venue in Norway, the RIBA Award-winning Horris Hill School Theatre and the pioneering Rammed Earth House in Wiltshire.

Jonathan tells us why he chose Olympia for his studio, and shares some of his favourite West London things.

How long have you lived in West London?

All my life, apart from a short three-year stint in south London. I was born in Hammersmith, grew up in Barnes, lived on Latimer road, and now live in Queen’s Park.

When did you move your design studio to Olympia? And why did you choose the area?

We moved to the area in 2017 following the conversion of a former pub on Milson Road into our architecture studio, catering to our every need. Previously we were in a shared office space so it’s such a pleasure to now be somewhere that we’ve designed ourselves. I was always drawn to the area growing up nearby across the river, so it felt apt that the new home for the studio would be in a pub that I remember frequenting when I was getting my first taste of what London had to offer.  

What’s special to you about this area?  

The area is peaceful and has a strong communal sensibility, offering respite from the surrounding busy hubs of Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush and Kensington. While these cultural spots are within reaching distance, it’s special to be in a small slice of London that feels more like a village.

What are some of your favourite restaurants in the area?

1. The Moroccan fish food stalls on Golborne Road – it has fresh food and the conversation is always delicious; it’s the quickest way to Morocco without a plane ticket.

2. The fabulous Italian food at Pentolina on Blythe Road. Light-filled, calm, considered and uncomplicated.

3. Tonkotsu, for counter-served ramen on Blenheim Crescent. Intimate, vibrant, wholesome.

If you are going to celebrate, where do you go?

A favourite of our studio’s is The Havelock Tavern and its pub garden, where we often congregate for after-work drinks, meetings and celebratory lunches.

The last few years, Thursday evenings at The Royal Exchange Paddington have been great. An eclectic gathering, great music and the smallest dancefloor.

Are there any wellbeing services, gyms, trainers, or parks that you love?

Holland Park is magic; it’s so many different spaces rolled into one. We often use the park for softball tournaments in summer. The opera in summer is also an annual ritual, and I like the tow path between Putney and Barnes Bridge (the south side).

Are there any other local businesses, suppliers or venues that you can’t live without?

The neighborhood is an ideal location for our architectural studio; it’s a stone’s throw from central London, with collaborators aplenty nearby. We work very closely with ACAVA art studios around the corner, sometimes using their venue for our ‘Building on the Built’ lecture series. These bimonthly talks are open to the public and revolve around the theme of reuse with guest speakers from the world of architecture, photography, film. It’s a fantastic way to engage with the local community and kickstart creative discussion.

Do you have an insider local tip? 

My insider local tip is to share with you a game a colleague introduced me to that is only possible in London.

Open this: Whatever country it lands on, use Google to find the nearest restaurant from that country. I have recently ‘travelled’ to Spain, Eritrea, Ghana, Portugal, Georgia, and Nepal for the cost of a bus ride. You will feel like you’ve been on holiday, eaten amazing food, met new people and will never be disappointed.

The nearby Cine Lumiere showcases a diverse array of foreign language films in a stunning Art Deco auditorium. You also can’t go wrong with a pizza at Zia Lucia, some of the best in the city.

Can you tell us any news from your studio that would be good for readers to know about?

A third of our work is in London, 1/3 outside of London and 1/3 abroad.

We’ve recently completed a rammed earth house in Wiltshire; it’s a pioneering home composed from the very ground on which it sits. This new build reinvents the possibilities of this ancient construction method while reinforcing our ethos of reuse, with recycled demolition aggregate interspersed throughout the rammed earth mix.

In London we are working on a listed house in Knightsbridge, an exciting house in Westminster and are currently remodeling the brutalist Acland Burghley School in Camden.

Further afield we are working on a cultural center in the Norwegian arctic circle and are working to transform a monolithic tannery in rural Belgium into a hotel, eco retreat and restaurant. 

What can’t you live without in the summer?

The studio wouldn’t be the same without our BBQ, which we roll out on summer evenings for a street party. We pair this with homemade beer, continuing the legacy of our studio’s former use as a pub.