Case study one

PAD Studio Manifesto: CHORA PRACTICE

PAD Studio, Lymington, Hampshire

PAD Studio is an, award-winning architectural practice, that has since inception developed a reputation for the delivery of contemporary sustainable architecture containing a rich tectonic narrative, advanced through collaborative relationships with their Clients.

The practice has developed a significant portfolio within the fields of ‘Live, Work, Play, Learn, and Grow’ in addition to projects that dissolve the threshold between architecture and the fine arts such as the ‘Exbury Egg’. PAD Studio has developed a consistent engagement with academia through the part-time teaching contributions of three of the team at the Universities of Portsmouth, Oxford Brookes and Reading Schools of Architecture.

Having established an excellent reputation and ‘brand’, PAD commissioned CHORA to lead a process of reflection upon and articulation of, the core values that inform the ethos and praxis of PAD Studio. Following a process of collaborative discussions between PAD and CHORA in the design of the brief for the project, it was agreed that the interaction would be structured around a one-day event that comprised two distinct but interrelated elements: ‘Praxis Narratives’ and ‘Project Narratives’ and the event was to be structured and led by CHORA. No final outcome was pre-determined except that some form of written piece was to be developed that reflected the essence of PAD.

‘Praxis Narratives’ sought to uncover the core values held by the practice that were incrementally exposed through a series of pre-designed processes during the first half of the day. These values were further explored as ‘Project Narratives’ in the second half of the day through the interrogation of three projects chosen by PAD studio that represented diverse typologies that represented the depth and breadth of the PAD portfolio.

The conversations were extensive, dynamic and free flowing around the threads provided by the predetermined CHORA structure, and across the day the core values were exposed and made evident through the examination of particular projects that provided tangible exemplars of the PAD ethos. The conversations and processes conversations were systematically recorded. Incrementally and in parallel, the specific requirement emerged for a PAD Manifesto that was to be developed as the tangible output for the project.

CHORA developed the first draft of the ‘Emerging PAD Manifesto’, that was honed through a process of collaborative iteration. The Manifesto is now a core element of the PAD identity, attracting positive commentary from peer practitioners, and perhaps most importantly, existing and potential clients. The Manifesto represents the genesis of on-going and developing collaborations between PAD and CHORA.

“Our first collaboration with Chora resulted in our manifesto. We wished to find a means to reflect on the practice’s personal identity and reveal this to others.  Roger came to our office for a day, during which he initiated and guided the conversations which lead to the production of the manifesto. He was clear from the outset that our day must produce a tangible outcome in terms of a piece of writing – without us knowing how we were going to achieve it or what to expect.

Roger’s wisdom and experience was critical. The day was focused and there was emphasis on producing a tangible outcome. Roger left at the end of the day with a record of our discussions and responded with clear points that summarised our own words. We responded and added to the dialogue: The manifesto was born. Since its formation, our manifesto has become a vital document to the practice, guiding all that we do and providing a clear means of explaining who we are to clients and collaborators. It has been incredibly helpful; clients often quote our manifesto back to us during the design process.”


The emerging PAD manifesto

(With acknowledgement of Bruce Mau)


  1. We believe that no single statement deserves to be number one. It implies a hierarchy; a paradigm we reject in favour of collaboration, networks, transparent, and dynamic models of working.
  2. We are convinced that architecture holds the potential to enhance the human condition in all that we do. And it does.
  3. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do. We listen and collaborate.
  4. Our work is rooted in the particularity of place.
  5. Those roots represent PAD values that enable design to respond to the particular conditions of clients, place and project brief.
  6. We work in a world of flux and shifting condition. Our deep-rooted values provide stability yet facilitate dynamic response to flux.
  7. We celebrate each design voyage in its complexity, challenge and non-linear nature that respond to circumstances and conditions as they emerge.
  8. PAD studio embeds the concept of sustainable design in everything we do. It is not a discreet or applied condition and we strive to extend the debate into the realms of beauty and the poetic.
  9. Our values and work are steered by a strong ethical compass.
  10. We all teach in Schools of Architecture and that is core to our development; ‘we teach best what we want to learn[1].’
  11. In a world of white noise – silence stands out more (thanks Ben)
  12. Ten provides a space for breath and reflection.
  13. Our key words contain; intensity – dedication – collaboration – fun – exploration – making – testing – balance – learning - ethical - development – process – humility – place …(there are of course others)
  14. We immodestly suggest that we are modest.
  15. We are constantly aware of what we need to learn and to educate.
  16. We are constantly innovating and developing in our practice in process, representation and communication.
  17. Purposely blank.
  18. We consistently share and love to be shared with.
  19. Our work is informed by work and theory. In theory we return to the root of the word – ‘to observe and to speculate upon.’
  20. We have Meerkat tendencies – we pop our heads up to become aware of movements in culture, architecture, music, theatre, dance, politics and economics - these are all constantly on our radar.
  21. At one with nature and mankind.
  22. We are mindful that we need to look from a distance to see the trees that make up the forest.
  23. There must be a narrative.
  24. Architecture is a means of giving form to the storyline.
  25. We are not conformists.
  26. We are storytellers and there is room within our story for others.
  27. Life experience makes for a richer plot.
[1] ‘Illusions: The Adventures of A Reluctant Messiah.' - Richard Bach (1998)

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