Beautiful engineering for a sustainable future

We are Max Fordham. A partnership of engineers, designers and consultants, working with the built environment, to deliver a sustainable future and a thriving planet.

Young children playing in garden at Woodlands Day Nursery and Forest School, Staffordshire University.

Shared ownership, shared responsibility

Social and environmental responsibility are embedded in our practice.

Max founded the practice on the belief that it is our shared responsibility to look after each other, to care for our communities, and to create a sustainable world.

He sought a partnership approach to running the business, to encourage shared responsibility and a feeling of ownership; we were the first UK company in our industry to become a Limited Liability Partnership. In essence, we’re an employee-owned business and our culture thrives on open, honest, collaborative relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

We strive to build a practice that is truly representative of the society we live in. Our commitment is not only to eliminate and avoid discrimination but to create an environment where our differences are celebrated and valued.

A group of more than 200 people standing in a garden smiling at the camera

From the very start, Max sought a collaborative approach to running a business. He felt that designing a system for people to work in productively and creatively was as important as the design of the buildings themselves.

Max was quoted as saying "It's a responsibility-sharing scheme, not a profit-sharing scheme” and "if they're fit to be an employee, then they're fit to be a Partner". These principles remain to this day.

More about the practice

Beautiful Engineering

Our long-standing design philosophy, inspired by Max, endures today. ‘Beautiful Engineering’ encapsulates our belief in elegant, sustainable outcomes that are good for humanity and good for the planet.

‘Beautiful’ is about more than just visual or aesthetic beauty. It also describes the craft that goes into devising a carefully considered, elegant solution that is tailored to the specific needs of the building and its users. And sometimes beauty is in what you can’t see: a simple or detailed design that is invisible to the eye but performs exactly as intended. Max’s approach was always to work with the surrounding environment, to use it to minimise the need for unnecessary technology or materials. This philosophy still underpins our designs to this day.

‘Engineering’ is done by more than just engineers. The word ‘engineering’ is derived from the Latin 'ingeniare' meaning 'to contrive, devise' and 'ingenium' meaning 'cleverness'. These perfectly capture the approach of all our people, whether they're an engineer, a consultant, or a designer.

A black-and-white external photo of the BRE building, with notable ventilation chimneys and a blue-sky above.

Long before it was the "standard", we were pioneering low-energy and low-carbon building design, and we remain at the forefront to this day.

A list of all the milestones along the way would run for several pages, but here are a choice few.

View the timeline

Truly sustainable buildings by a truly sustainable business

Our world is facing a climate and biodiversity emergency and we’re fully committed to continue pushing boundaries, to keep learning, keep sharing what we’ve learnt, and keep campaigning for our industry to do better.

Max was a pioneer in sustainable, low-energy and low-carbon building design, and the practice remains at the forefront of applying net zero carbon, Passivhaus, environmental design, strategic sustainability, and circular economy and reuse strategies to the built environment.

As a business we ‘practice what we preach’ through our various commitments, including the Science Based Targets initiative, the World Green Building Council (GBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, and being the first UK business to have all our offices verified as net zero carbon in operation.


Building Services Engineers Declare


World GBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment


Science Based Targets initiative


Beautiful engineering for a sustainable future

A modern multi-story building with a central outdoor space

The Net Zero Carbon Guide, a free and open resource, is here to help navigate the process of achieving net zero carbon for both old and new buildings.

View the Net Zero Carbon Guide

Creating a better world

From our earliest days, we have been dedicated to creating positive change for people, far above and beyond the impact of our work. Our essential community engagement activities are focused on areas that can have the biggest impact and mean the most to our people. We deliver social value activities, community engagement workshops, and pro bono work that makes a lasting tangible difference to our local communities, future generations of engineers and designers, and wider society. 

We’re proud of how deeply our team cares and will always do the right thing. Even when no one is looking, and there isn’t a box to tick, or an obligation to fulfil.

"Our people are all driven by a strong desire to deliver high quality work that makes a positive contribution to the world around us."

Director, Chair of Managing Partners

Young women smiling and chatting on their way to school

On philanthropic projects in less economically developed countries around the world, we provide engineering expertise on community projects that normally can’t access this kind of assistance. Projects range in scale from designing a single house to advising governments on school design.

We often work on education and healthcare buildings, addressing fundamental needs such as water, sanitation, and shelter. Our contributions are generally provided pro bono, supported by funding from the practice and the donation of time from staff.

Our developing countries projects

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