The practice was founded by Peter Phippen in 1963. He was joined shortly after by his Bristol School of Architecture contemporaries, Peter Randall and David Parkes. Their early careers included working at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Greater London Council as well as teaching at the Architectural Association. The practice became known as Phippen Randall & Parkes.
The founding of the practice came at an opportune time; housing was high on the political agenda as Britain began to accelerate its re-building programme after the Second World War. What set Phippen Randall & Parkes apart right from the start was their philosophy of designing for, and with, the individuals and communities who would occupy the homes.
The founding partners were joined by Reg Harris as their Technical Director. Their first major commission was a project at the Ryde in Hatfield. This unique project of courtyard houses for a group of enthusiastic co-owners received widespread recognition and set the foundations for the practice. Its historical significance was recognized with a Grade II listing in 2006. There soon followed a string of commissions in the growing New Towns, including Shrublands and Forestfield in Crawley and Kingswood in Basildon. Each of these projects explored different approaches to low-rise high density housing with particular emphasis on good daylighting, sunlighting and privacy. Simple but elegant construction and detailing using natural materials that would mature gracefully was the basis of the emerging house style.
In the early 1970s, the practice began to expand its Hampton Court base and Barry Munday and Chris Rudolf joined in quick succession. Both held impressive credentials from eminent practices and soon became the first associates of Phippen Randall & Parkes. They were subsequently appointed as Directors in the early 1980s.
Staying close to its housing roots, the practice began to branch out and work for a wider range of clients including Housing Associations, Local Authorities and private developers. PRP, as we had become more commonly known, grew to 90-strong by the end of the 1980's having secured major private housing commissions such as Lisson Grove, Carlton Gate and Chasewood Park. Following the downturn in the private market housing market in 1990, the practice underwent a period of consolidation and further diversification that enabled us to develop a broader range of services, notably in urban regeneration, specialist housing, healthcare and education. At this time we were reconstituted as a limited company: PRP Architects ltd. It was also around this time that PRP started developing its Low Energy Design capabilities with studies for the BRE and houses designed for the Energy Park and Energy World in Milton Keynes.
In 1994, we opened our London office in Smithfield to service the Waltham Forest Housing Action Trust project which had been won in competition. On the back of this success, our growing reputation in sustainable regeneration helped us to secure other notable projects such as Central Stepney, Church End and Roundwood. Simultaneously, the Hampton Court office continued to expand its expertise in the fields of new communities and housing for older people. We were able to develop ideas, particularly around housing layout, some of which were precursors of the PPG3 agenda. These included increasing densities, reducing the dominance of cars and designing houses for different lifestyles and needs.
As the company continued to expand, we relocated the Hampton Court office to Thames Ditton where today it occupies three floors of an elegantly converted factory building on the banks of the River Thames and houses over 100 staff.
Peter Phippen followed his original partners into retirement in 2000 and Barry Munday and Chris Rudolf took over the reigns of the practice.
Also in 2000 we opened a new office in Milton Keynes. This quickly developed a good reputation for large scale masterplanning. Our successful PFI bid for the Plymouth Grove Estate regeneration provided the catalyst for the opening of our Manchester office in 2001 and from here we expanded our regeneration and primary health work to the North West. In 2002, we teamed up with Bill Dunster architects, an innovatory practice specialising in low-energy zero-carbon developments, to form a new joint venture, PRP ZEDfactor; a partnership that has since resulted in a groundbreaking low energy housing scheme for keyworkers in Lambeth that the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, believes "sets the standard for what we should be achieving in every social housing development in London".
2007 saw the retirement of Barry Munday, Chairman, and Chris Rudolf, Managing Director and Andy von Bradsky and Roger Battersby took on their respective roles.
After 50 years in practice, PRP today employs over 290 people in five offices across the world; London, Manchester, Surrey, China and Moscow.
In order to respond to the increasing complexity of modern development, we have expanded our skill base to include planners, urban designers, landscape designers, interior designers, environmental consultants and project managers. Mixed use developments, such as the first mixed use block in Wembley's regeneration plan, are now a major part of our work. With the Government's agenda for Sustainable Communities focused on both urban and rural areas across the UK, our experts are well placed to help take PRP's vision forward into the future.