[Y/N] Studio is a creative platform established by Alex Smith to ask questions of the built environment

The complexity associated with designing and constructing our cities is astounding and a great deal of architecture serves only to add complexity. We think the role of the designer is to question these established but convoluted processes and reduce complexity.

Location: Bradbury Street, Dalston, London
Type: Workplace
Size: 1200m2
Collaborators: Hawkins\Brown
Client: Hackney Co-opererative Developments
Status: Planning
Date: 2017-

Project Team: Alex Smith, Maegan Icke, Ainhoa Valle, Carolina Borgatti, Margherita Zompa, Roxani Tseranidou

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We work with the various inputs, histories, technologies and constraints with which we are presented to formulate a response rather than imposing an abstract theology, manifesto or style.  We, as architects, are editors of the process.  The questions, and the problems, can be incredibly complex, but a successful answer should be as simple as Yes or No.

While disparate in nature, scale, form and material, our projects are all characterised by a combination of pragmatic problem solving and idealistic ingenuity. We call this approach Pragmatic Idealism.

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Since forming as a company in 2017,  we have been working on a diverse range of commissions, including carefully detailed residential extensions, 100+ multi-unit housing schemes, a large workspace in Dalston, a mixed-use tower in South London and a footbridge for Network Rail.

In 2018 the studio won a competition for 4 coastal holiday homes in Kent, which are designed as a continuous spiral of floorplates to maximise sea views and reduce circulation space. More recently, we won an invited competition to deliver more than 60 homes in a building with a tapering asterisk plan designed to enhance views and create more public space.  In 2019 we completed our first project – a carefully detailed prefabricated timber and glass house.

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©[YN] Studio

The next few years will see more completed work, most notably the extension and refurbishment of the Bradbury Street Workspaces which face onto Gillett Square in Hackney. This will include around 1500m2 of new and refurbished affordable work space and a new row of retail units formed from salvaged shipping containers will help to ensure continuity of the unique and valuable local community that has emerged since the square was constructed nearly 20 years ago.

The people who work with us are talented and ambitious with backgrounds working in across Europe for internationally recognized practices. As a studio we are active in teaching and academia, and appreciate the importance of architectural education. Director Alex Smith currently holds positions at Oxford Brookes University and the Canterbury School of Architecture and London Metropolitan University.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.