Young designers launch Max Fordham exhibition with fresh ideas for net zero neighbourhood

Three people standing in front of the exhibition panels

New Makers Bureau have been named the winners of our architect pitch competition with their concept of the net zero neighbourhood.


The Archiboo competition marked the launch of an exhibition celebrating the life and work of our visionary founder, Max, at the Building Centre in London.

A panel of expert judges, Ali Shaw of Max Fordham, Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad, David Stronge of Peabody, Amrita Mahindroo of DROO Architects and Fran Williams of the Architects’ Journal, chose the winner from a shortlist of seven practices at the live event on Wednesday 8 March.

New Makers Bureau, based in the Design District, Greenwich, was founded two years ago and is made up of Director James Hampton, and Architectural Assistant, Laura Keay. Judges praised their pitch which took a holistic approach to the concept, exploring the idea of sourcing building materials from within a 50-mile radius to reduce the embodied carbon of a neighbourhood.

The runners-up were Bryan Tsang of Ben Adams Architects, Jas Bhalla of Jas Bhalla Architects, Jessica Barker of Stolon, Lewis Williams of Hudson Architects, Mellis Haward of Archio and Wongani Mwanza of Transition by Design.

“We are delighted to have won, especially as we’re such a new practice. We were really excited to be part of this competition as Archiboo is all about new and emerging practices, and it was so wonderful to hear everybody’s ideas. Max was an inspiration for us in interpreting the brief, we took his principles and combined them with our own to produce our pitch. We’re really pleased the judges liked it.”

Laura Keay

Open until 24 March, the exhibition examines the journey Max took from his initial studies to launching what became one of the world’s most innovative engineering firms. Max Fordham House, which achieved net zero carbon for both operational and construction carbon, features in the exhibition. As the first building of any type to achieve this feat, it is a hallmark of Max’s forward-thinking approach.

The approaches to passive design that Max developed stemmed from his curiosity about how buildings worked and how they could better cater to the needs of their users. The exhibition demonstrates the idea that collaboration and ingenuity can create elegant solutions.

With more than 50 years of experience working across building services and environmental consultancy, Max and the practice won significant and varied recognition for their work in ensuring human comfort and minimising the energy use of buildings.

The exhibition, ‘Max Fordham: Engineering Ideas, Engineering Change’ presents a curated collection of drawings, models, original letters and videos from Max’s life and career. Through seminal projects from the last 50 years, the exhibition explores many of his key ideas and their impact on the design of the built environment.

The exhibition runs from 8-24 March 2023 and is open to the public, free of charge.

“One thing Max liked to talk about was taking an idea and seeing where it goes, and we felt that New Makers Bureau’s idea of sourcing building materials from within a 50-mile radius was a great example of this. They delivered a great pitch and we felt it tied in with the discussions about 15-mile cities that are happening at the moment. Congratulations to all the practices who pitched their ideas tonight, there was an exciting range of ideas and interpretations of the brief, and we really enjoyed hearing them. Max was a pioneer of sustainable building design, and this competition was a fitting way to launch the exhibition celebrating his life and work." 

Ali Shaw Principal Engineer for Max Fordham
Seven people standing in front of the exhibition panels

© Paul Vincent

A person is presenting using a projector screen in front of a group of audience

© Paul Vincent

Five people sitting in a row, reading the pages on their hands. One of them is holding a microphone and speaking

© Paul Vincent