Margate Meets: Ratliff/Landells

We're continually being told that people are flocking to Margate in order to buy cheaper property and to renovate homes. I caught up with Ratliff/Landells, a Margate and London based architecture studio, to find out more about the projects that they undertake in spaces and homes throughout Thanet.

Who are Ratliff/Landells?

We are Tim Ratliff and Tam Landells and both of us are architects. We run Ratliff/Landells, which is a small but lively architectural practice working on arts, commercial and domestic buildings.

What brought you to Margate? 

Originally Tam is from Cornwall and Tim is from London, we both moved here about 3 years ago from Tottenham. We came here to find a house we could renovate and turn into a showcase for our talents. The original plan was to rent out our creation, but that soon went out the window. It just seemed like there was so much going on here; the creative energy and exciting atmosphere made the place feel so alive, but on a scale that we could engage with. In the end we thought 'this is where we need to be right now, for work and for us'; we could be part of what was going on down here. 

Can you tell us more about your work at Resort Studios?

We've been based at Resort for two years now (with a short stint at home to have our son Evan). It's a brilliant young arts organisation. It hosts creatives from loads of different backgrounds: illustration, printing, art, jewellery design, fashion, textiles, photography, set design, sculpture, mixed media, product design, architects, etc. It is a pretty unique place because of the open plan volume and their focus on collaboration and diversity.


The funders were looking for an organisation to host a new Creative Work Hub – a space for co-working, showcasing and networking. At full capacity and with regular requests for studio space, Resort needed to grow. The brief was to create access to three inaccessible mezzanine spaces, bring them into use and create an additional mezzanine level. We designed a lightweight timber stair which not only navigated multiple structural constraints and delivered access but became a place for conversations, to proudly display work and as a platform for talks and events.The winged stair is a celebration of movement, a nod to the grand and a playful and joyful tool for cohesion in a multi-disciplined and growing arts space.

Resort Studios was one of the first public sector projects we’ve been involved in with multiple funders, multiple clients, a non-negotiable programme, multiple occupants and an opening by HRH Duchess of Cambridge - so a first of many! It was a great success and shows just how accessible and successful big ideas can be with a small budget. 

Do you have any projects in other Thanet spaces right now?

We have a few rather nice houses on the go in Garlinge, Margate and Broadstairs, but we would love to see the cliff top promenade at Cliftonville re-invigorated. It has everything already laid out to be thriving, it just needs some love, bold ideas and probably a little bit of colour. We can certainly help with the latter two and are currently working with some great people in the local community, council and at Resort to try and bring some of our thoughts to fruition. A lot of time is spent on wondering what Margate and Clitonville used to be like, we're more interested in what it could be like.


What makes your approach distinctive? Are there any particular features or styles that would identify your work?

I guess what makes us distinctive is our approach; our work is deeply personal and we invest everything into even the smallest of projects. We are less interested in architectural style or motifs and far more excited by designs that match the people using them. We were both trained at schools that prioritise creative theory and expression, but we come from backgrounds that are very much rooted in the 'real' world. I think that allows us to apply big ideas to everyday problems, it then just takes a little tenacity and passion to make it work. So if there is anything to identify our work it's that there is always a big idea shining through.

What do you like most about Margate? 

Variety! Margate is a living beast of a town, positively bursting with energy. There is so much here to enjoy; wonderful buildings - both new and old, ruins to capture the imagination, a proud and vibrant history, an exciting and unpredictable future, a diverse population, miles of beaches, the fact we can walk down the high street and be greeted by our friends. You can't deny the realities of life here, but it is being able to think big with your feet on the ground that makes living in Margate such a rich experience.

 Having been a Thanet resident for most of my life, the sudden rise in popularity for setting up homes here is something that I find particularly interesting. Margate is forever changing and it's fantastic to see so many old buildings being revived and looking great again, as well as witnessing lots of people making the town their new home. 

Images courtesy of Adam Scott.

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