FH Stories | Jonathan Burlow

“Cities tend to make me feel big or small, confident, curious, excited, impatient and at times annoyed. But being against the coastal edge offers freedom and serenity.”

When it came to setting up his first practice, architect Jonathan Burlow decided to exchange the bright lights of London for the calm of the coast.

A former Folkestone schoolboy, Jonathan studied in Portsmouth and Bath, before finishing at the Architectural Association in London and began building his experience at different established London-based practices. But he was soon impatient to strike out on his own.

“I decided to set up a practice to have more creative freedom and develop my own approach to architecture. It was a conscious rejection to accepting a pre-programmed style from someone else’s thinking.

“The typical attitude is that London is where all the work is, and all the creatives. But Folkestone is equally creative, and things are happening here.

“Folkestone attracted me mostly through the dramatic aspect of living and working by the sea – the dramatic cliffs, the striking coast. The area also offers a variety of typologies to work with; rural, urban and coastal.

“And, of course, this is a much more meditative space to clear the mind. We still work heavily with London through the practice, just in a more peaceful setting.”

Jonathan’s practice opened in 2018 and the first built project was the striking ‘Over the Edge’ home extension in Hythe. Inspired by the area’s historic narrative yet with a thoroughly modern approach, the finished project resulted in a raft of positive write ups in the likes of Architectural Digest, Dezeen, Archdaily, Wallpaper magazine and Design Boom, and a swell of referrals for the new business.

In a recent project, Jonathan joined forces with Daniel Kennedy at Folkestone-based Progress Creative to explore ideas to renovate their planned new office space in Tontine Street, including options for a large pivoting partition wall and new flexible gallery and community space.

“We have always worked closely with outside professions – particularly artists – offering a more intuitive response to a project.

“Folkestone and the surrounding towns have internationally renowned artists working and living here, and it is important to show the community that great things are on their doorstep.”

Jonathan’s message to creatives who may be concerned about leaving London is that fast transport links and technology make it an easy choice and “allow for a more autonomous working relationship with London.

“It is exciting to be part of Folkestone’s growth and development. Everyone here is working to a common goal in developing the area in all aspects, to make it more creative and add more diversity and interest. It does feel like everyone is interested in helping one another, it’s a very friendly environment.

“Definitely make the move.”



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