Margate design studio celebrates project’s architecture award

Gods House Tower Photo Phil Boorman

By Dan Thompson

A Margate design studio is celebrating after working on a project which has won a prestigious architecture award.

HKD designed a permanent exhibition for God’s House Tower (GHT) in Southampton, which has won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) regional award.

The RIBA judges said, “For the first time in several hundred years, the public can now access GHT and a new route has been created through the building which allows everyone to experience its rich history as a vital part of the medieval city wall defences.”

Key to that experience is the HKD-designed exhibition explaining the building’s history and its role in the city’s defences. The exhibition tells about the lives of felons, gunners, pilgrims and traders which the 700 year old building has housed. HKD worked alongside Canterbury-based Purcell, the conservation architects for the project.

Photo Phil Boorman

GHT is now occupied by arts organisation A Space Arts, who coincidentally commissioned Ramsgate artist Emily Peasgood to make When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Ship. The new artwork and installation  takes the form of a song, played through speakers in the gallery space, exploring Southampton’s complex relationship to the sea. Spanning a period of over 400 years, the song’s lyrical content explores the city’s every-changing coastline from the 1600s to the present day and into the future.

Directors Rick Houghton and Kate Kneale founded HKD in 2000 and moved their business to Margate in 2009 – opening Marine Studios at the same time. Houghton had worked under Festival of Britain designer James Gardiner, and Kneale had worked in television and theatre.

Photo Phil Boorman

Marine Studios, in Albert Terrace, was designed to reflect HKD’s interest in curiosity and inquiry and it started the regular First Friday events, where artists, writers and audiences come together to explore a subject.

For more about HKD’s work at GHT and to see their other international projects, visit


    • Yes of course this building has a lift.

      It is a well known fact that all medieval buildings were fitted with lifts 700 years ago. You can clearly see the lift room on the top of the tower. (Did you not study history at school ?).

      Obviously there was no electricity at the time but through a system of ropes slung over wooden beams, six hearty fellows would haul their disabled friends and family up through the building.

      The same system exists today but due to health and safety requirements you will need to be strapped into a body harness and the team of rope haulers has been increased to twelve to reduce the risk of back strain and hernias.

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