Skene Catling de la Peña have developed a unique approach they call ‘Geoarchaeology’, where they excavate meaning from the geology of the site and its historical human occupation as a means of developing architecture. This involves transforming observations about the composition of the earth, historical artefacts and the cultural landscapes of their commissions into a physical form. They use narrative as a way of articulating the brief and applying it to the site in a meaningful way; humans relate to stories rather than the abstractions of architectural construction. There are the existing or ‘found’ stories of the site itself – the geology, the landscape and the people who have historically occupied it which are revealed as part of the first stages of research. Onto this is overlaid the new story – of those who are about to make the place a central part of their lives. The architecture emerges from the meeting and integration of the two. This makes the building resonate with its environment in a profound way.
Their work includes a variety of typologies and scales both in the UK and abroad, ranging from houses to cultural and commercial projects. They have designed major exhibitions for institutions such as the Royal Academy, London, or the Antikenmuseum, Basel. They are experienced in the design and integration of contemporary projects into Grade I and II listed buildings, and in creating interventions within sensitive historic contexts such as Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, and the Perm World Heritage Site, Russia.
Research continues throughout their projects with the rigorous exploration of ideas and possibilities at all scales, from concept to detail. The practice is particularly interested in innovative and unconventional uses of traditional materials, techniques and typologies in new contexts, and how this can define a new approach to sustainability. Skene Catling de la Peña often work on the borderline between architecture and art and have an ongoing relationship with arts fabricator and cultural heritage innovator Factum Arte in Madrid, offering possibilities for experimentation with materials, concepts and making at the highest levels. They have become known for their unique approach to the integration of contemporary architectural work into the landscape
Charlotte Skene Catling and Jaime de la Peña met as students of architecture in London. Both went on to work in different practices in Berlin in the 1990s. They formed Skene Catling de la Peña in 2003 and worked together until 2015. They remain great friends and continue to share thoughts and ideas.
Skene Catling de la Peña are based in Soho in London, and in Madrid where they share a space with Factum Arte with whom they regularly collaborate on projects of all scales. They work with a team of engineers, contractors, artisans and makers who play an integral role in the delivery of their designs. The teams are tailored to suit the particular demands of each project.
Charlotte Skene Catling is an architect who collaborates across disciplines. She runs projects that border architecture and other disciplines, such as film and music, in parallel to her architectural practice. She writes articles and essays about architecture and design and has contributed to the Sunday Telegraph, The Burlington Magazine, The Architectural Review, ARCH+ and DOMUS. In 2017 she co-launched the architectural film festival, ArchFilmFest, in London. She ran a post-graduate architecture unit at the Royal College of Art, taught at the Karlsruhe Institute ofTechnology (KIT), Germany and at the London School of Architecture (the LSA). She is an external examiner at UCL. Charlotte was the only European shortlisted for the 2016 AR Women in Architecture award and was named a Debrett’s 500 People of Influence in Architecture & Design in 2016 and ‘17.
Jamie de la Peña studied architecture at the University of Westminster. He has practiced in Berlin with the Maximiliano Burgmeyer Architektburo; in Sri Lanka with Geoffrey Bawa, and in the UK with Walters and Cohen. He set up Skene Catling de la Peña with Charlotte Skene Catling in 2003 and remains a contributor as well as working on his own projects in the UK, Spain and Sri Lanka.
Daniel began his architectural education at Newcastle University where his undergraduate design project was nominated for the prestigious RIBA Bronze Award. After a year in industry working on large scale infrastructure design, he enrolled at The London School of Architecture (LSA), as part of the 4th cohort of students. After graduating with First Class Honours in the height of the pandemic, Daniel worked alongside Will Hunter, the dean of the LSA, on a property development start-up, whilst co-leading a post-graduate architectural think-tank on live-work housing. Daniel joined Skene Catling de la Peña in 2021 where he has been heavily involved in all aspects of the practice.
Antje Weihen, Valentino Tignaneli, Vanessa Perry, Amaia Orrico Aicua, Cecilia Susca, Henry Kleine, Markus Bergstrom, Pablo Wheldon, Samuel Chisholm, Agata Murasko, Jose Duran, Tania Moeira David, Tati Vela, Theodora Bowering, Tomoaki Todome, Tom Greenall, Jordan Hodgson, Lucie Reuter, Roo Humpherson, Jeronimo Garcia, Brian Collins, Luke Draper, Claire Spellman, AMDL Circle: Michele de Lucchi, Nicholas Bewick, Giacomo Nava, Anna Schiaretti, FAR Frohn & Rojas: Marc Frohn, Mario Rojas
Factum Arte & Foundation: Adam Lowe, Otto Lowe, Aniuska Martin, Blanca Nieto, Bradley Childs, Carlos Alonso, Carlos Bayod Lucini, Carmen Pascual, Damien Lopez Rojo, Francesco Cigognetti, Giulia Fornaciari, Irene Gaumé, Isabel Fernandez, Ivan Allende, Jacinto de Manuel, Jemima Law, Jordi García, Jorge Cano, Juan Carlos Arias, Larissa van Moorsel, Matt Marshall, Miguel Hernando, Milou Mai Law, Natalia Perez Buesa, Nicolas Béliard, Oscar Parasiego, Silvia Álvarez, Rafa Rachewsky, Pedro Miro, Victoria Matatagui, Casilda Ybarra
Engineers EHRW, Buro Happold, Price & Meyers, Arup, Max Fordham, Downie Consulting Engineers, Fernando Purroy, 3E Consulting Engineers, Infrastructure Design Studio, Haskins Robinson Waters, CES Engineering Sustainability, CDM: Goddard Consulting. Lighting design: TM Lighting, Spectron Solutions Planning & Conservation: Carter Jonas, Nigel Barker Mills, Brooke Vincent & Partners Landscape Design: Tom Stuart-Smith, Mary Keen, Pip Morrison
ArchFilmFest: Manuel Toledo-Otaegui, Agata Murasko, Josephine English Cook, Matteo Mastrandrea, Anna Ulrikke
Andersen Photographers: James Morris, Oak Taylor-Smith, Director: Michael Hunt Composers: William Kingswood, Nathaniel Robin Mann. Filmmakers: Tapio Snellman, Anna Plusimgs: Rocco Valentines, Alessandro Balducci
“This is a rare example of a poetic narrative whose realisation remains true to the original concept.”
– RIBA citation, RIBA House of the Year, 2015