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1 & 2.  1984 World’s first creation of visible 3D light forms at the EdF laboratories France (Jean-Louis Lhermitte, François Bastien and Ian Ritchie)

3. 1994-2002 Molecular ‘doping’ of Na glass to limit crack propagation (with Prof Greaves, Aberystwyth Univ, Dept. of Physics)



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4 & 5.  2010-2015 Double glazed, insulated, light transmitting undulating cast glass façade (SWC). Glazing assembly sample (left-hand side) SWC (right-hand side) (c) Grant Smith.


Ian Ritchie Architects have a world-wide reputation for material research, development and technical innovation in architecture and design engineering techniques which includes R&D work with major international companies. Very unusually for an architect’s practice we initiate and undertake research into materials, techniques and construction which complements the more conventional design research we undertake in space and form making.


We see design as an inherently collaborative process between user, designer and manufacturer, but critically engaging with other disciplines; from process and material specialists to scientists, artists and poets; to extend the horizon of possibilities.


Our research ethos is culturally integrated in the day-to-day design activities of our studio and is applied to all projects.


The practice has been responsible for a number of ‘world firsts’ that illustrate the range of innovation and applied techniques which we have developed collaboratively from our project work and research commissions (we highlight three from this list above). These are generally material innovations and applications, but with an eye on a known ‘expanded’ performance, e.g. to enclose and cover buildings, while other investigations involve molecular behaviour, to high performance diode lighting, and dynamic rowing tanks.


Our current areas of research interest include:

Low-energy life-cycle consumption and very low maintenance solutions

High performance materials and coatings, marrying of characteristics

Improving performance value of low performance or waste materials

Robotics, controls, systems integration and simplification

Linking neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment