Grove Park, designed by John Smart Architects
Grove Park, designed by John Smart Architects

Architecture is a profession for opportunists. One of the great advantages of living and breathing construction and knowing the true cost of sites, labour, materials and fees is that architects are among the best people to navigate the swirling waters of the property market.

London in particular offers plenty of precedents for such a commercial approach. Great swathes of the Georgian and Victorian city were put in place by speculative developers, armed only with squads of builders and the latest pattern book. The architect has always been a driving force behind the unique and the individual, often using their own house as a test bed for ideas.

Squeezing innovation into unpromising spaces is a valuable architectural skill, as is the ability to mix your own cement and endure a few years of unfinished surfaces to get things exactly right. How many firms are setting out to speculate right from the start, and what have they brought to their designs that a more conventional developer might miss? We’ve sought out nine studios who have dovetailed their design skills with an understanding of the profit margin, building new homes for themselves and others with an eye to a sale.

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