The Vale of Glamorgan's Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Union Architects

Looking for a Welsh speaking architect in Wales? Robert Lisle could well be your man.
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Based in South Wales, architect Robert Lisle has a passion for contemporary design. Together with co-director Jim, they have created a practice with creativity at its heart.

Are you formally trained?

We both trained at the Manchester School of Architecture going on to post graduate degrees at the University of Bath and North London. We are registered with the ARB and RIBA, and have more than twenty years professional experience. I spent my formative years with the designer of the Eden Project, Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners in London, working on high profile projects in the education, transport and cultural sectors across the world. Then several years working on bespoke, contemporary houses across the UK before co-founding Union in 2012.

Jim, my co-director, worked in a senior role for one of the UK’s most highly regarded and widely published residential architects, Paul Archer Design, delivering highly bespoke, contemporary houses and house extensions.

What inspired you to be an architect?

Since I was a child, I’ve loved making use of my creative and problem-solving skills. As practicing architects, we can make a difference to how people live, and improve the built environment for all both visually, and in terms of preserving our planet for future generations.

What do you love about what you do?

I enjoy analysing and interpreting a client’s design brief, finding creative solutions that surprise and inspire them, then seeing these concepts realised on site as a project is built. I also enjoy meeting clients from diverse backgrounds and leading multidisciplinary project teams 
of specialist consultants, builders and subcontractors on a wide variety of projects.

I started learning Welsh in 2017 and now enjoy interacting with clients, consultants and other project stakeholders in the Welsh language on a day-to-day basis.

Do you have a particular style you are known for?

We specialise in contextual, contemporary buildings, taking advantage of clean, modern lines and cutting-edge building technology, whist allowing the building or extension belong in a historical setting. Our past projects have often involved period and listed buildings within conservation
 areas. We understand how to best preserve these assets and create positive interactions between old and new. A project must forge relationships with its context whether that be through referencing existing proportions, massing, or materials. Establishing these bonds allows a sense of harmony to emerge. Our excellent track record, gaining planning permission for projects in challenging settings, is founded on the principle of clear design justification and developing strong relationships with planning officers within many local authorities.

Are there any architects you particularly admire?

I like architects like Stanton Williams, Carmody Groarke, David Chipperfield or Peter Zumthor
- masters of understatement and materiality. Their work inspires me because of its subtlety and originality – beautiful buildings that enhance their setting instead of competing with it.

What three things should clients consider when appointing an architect?

The client/architect relationship
Clients should feel they can get on with any architect they engage. Feeling sufficiently comfortable with each other will allow an open dialogue, and lead to an ultimately more successful project outcome.

We always meet clients prior to an appointment, free of charge, to discuss their project. This allows them to get to know us a little and helps ensure both parties are comfortable entering into a working relationship.

Style and experience
It’s obviously important to like the style of a designer’s work. No two projects are the same, but clients should be able to form an impression of this from an architect’s website, portfolio and initial discussions.

The appointment
Design professionals should clearly explain what work they will be 
doing if appointed, and the corresponding fees. We like to invest time making sure (often inexperienced) clients fully understand where they stand and feel confident moving forward with us. Transparency from the outset can make potentially stressful building projects much easier to navigate.

Sum yourself up in three words…

Creative, communicative and conscientious.

Penseir Union Architects
Offices in South Wales and East of England
Robert Lisle BA(Hons) M Arch
07878 155 071

Union Architects are featured in the Summer 2023 edition of Vale Life magazine
Click here to read on Issuu.