Ryan Windsor (PGDE 2012) talks about how architecture can have a positive impact on the environment and communities around us.
WindsorPatania is an award-winning architectural practice founded by Ryan Windsor and Giovanni Patania that focuses on educational projects and high-tech, sustainable family homes. Ryan Windsor, Development Director at WindsorPatania, is a property developer and entrepreneur who has invested in the industry for 15 years. He describes himself as having always been entrepreneurial and even operated several small businesses, or “side hustles”, while still at school.
Ryan studied as an undergraduate at the University of Suffolk before completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PGDE) at Cambridge Judge Business School. He chose the PGDE because of its strong entrepreneurial focus and structure that allowed him to both study and continue to build up his business. According to Ryan, “It was the right course for me, the right time, a great university, and a great business school”.
Cambridge Judge offers a unique networking experience
Ryan was impressed with the calibre of the faculty and their openness to explore new ideas. He is still amazed by the number of connections they have. He says, “every day of the Residential Week, there was another networking event. Just this power of connecting people was really helpful. Cambridge Judge expanded my thinking, it expanded my network and made me see and seize opportunities that I might not have had at another university that wasn’t as entrepreneurial or that didn’t have as many connections.”
Ryan met his business partner, Giovanni Patania, now Architect Director at WindsorPatania, at an awards ceremony when Ryan was receiving an award for his mentoring work in the field of property investment. They immediately hit it off and founded WindsorPatania soon after. In the 5 years since its foundation, the architectural practice has gone from strength to strength, powered by a clear vision, one of the pillars of which is to work on sustainable, luxury, residential projects.
A luxury villa that will inspire other sustainable projects
One such project is Eden House, a unique private residence that will set a new standard for sustainable luxury villas in the UK. The project is currently at the planning stage and WindsorPatania has focussed on making the house both carbon neutral and energy positive, with the client proposing to plant 12,000 trees to offset the carbon footprint. The house will be constructed from locally sourced materials using optimised construction and transport procedures.
The concept is not just about the house, but also the surroundings and how it will fit into the context of the land around it, how it will impact biodiversity. The plot is divided into various realms, each of which is dedicated to specific species. There are microecosystems for birds, butterflies and bees, thanks to solutions such as bee bricks and bird houses. Working with local and national wildlife charities, the overall aim is to establish an ecosystem that will work with both the building and its environment.
Unusually, the knowledge and experience acquired in the design process will be shared with the local and international community. There will be open house tours for anyone who would benefit from knowledge of advanced sustainability technologies. The specifications and architectural drawings will be made available to architects and designers.
Futuristic augmented reality centre with the wow factor
A very different but similarly stunning project by WindsorPatania is the XR Lab (Extended Reality Lab). The augmented reality centre was inspired by Tesla trucks and the Men in Black and Matrix movies. It is located inside a hangar at West Suffolk College and combines virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies and environments. Students will learn in a fully immersive lecture theatre equipped with wall-to-wall screens, video and motion capture studios, oculus headsets and haptic gloves.
Ryan says, “the XR Lab is not just a raw technical facility. The client asked us to come up with something that will inspire the next generation of students and attract them into this new world of virtual reality.” With an exterior constructed of polished plaster, the facility has the appearance of a spaceship that students discover when they enter the hangar. The students, and indeed everyone else, react with astonishment and curiosity, which is exactly the reaction that the architect intended.
It is hoped that the opportunities provided by the XR Lab will not be restricted to the students. It could help businesses to understand the potential of XR in their own sectors and upskill employees. Ryan says, “The XR Lab is an innovative project with uses that go far beyond higher education and could be of interest to local and regional businesses in fields as varied as medicine, surgery, engineering and landscaping”.
Making an impact through pro bono work
Ryan, a former student of West Suffolk College, initially contacted the college to offer to complete a pro bono project for them. For Ryan, it was important to give back to the college that had given him so much in terms of education and opportunities. In fact, charity is an integral part of WindsorPatania’s ethos and it undertakes one pro bono project each year. For example, during the COVID outbreak in 2020, it repurposed a hostel in Barcelona to create a shelter for homeless people, who were also given the opportunity to learn new skills to help them re-enter the workforce. WindsorPatania restructured the existing hostel, creating temporary places where people could live, as well as communal spaces where they could work.
Ryan is now in talks with a property industry charity that aims to end youth homelessness in the UK and hopes to sign up to do some pro bono work for them.
With its pro bono work, it is WindsorPatania’s mission to provide its services to some of those who need it but cannot afford it. This is one of the ways in which, as a practice, it can contribute to improving lives.
Ryan Windsor is interested in hearing from…
…anyone with an interest in educational, residential or high-tech sustainable XR labs / sustainable wet labs.