LGBT+ History Month

14 February 2024 by Simon Drayson

George James LGBTQ

Each February we celebrate LGBT+ History month, an annual month long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, highlighting the history of our rights and raising the awareness of continuing discrimination. As we are also posting this on Valentine’s Day we thought it was fitting to look back at our personal history together, as an architectural practice proudly founded by a gay couple.

We, Simon and Darren, are partners in life as well as in work and to us that makes perfect sense. We met whilst at Portsmouth University, where we were both studying architecture – you could say our eyes met across the drawing boards! After university we both moved to London for work, and started talking about setting up our own practice together shortly afterwards. After several years working for larger practices we were keen to leave behind the more bureaucratic, sometimes cumbersome elements of those larger studios, to launch something of our own and so we started dipping our toes in the water with a little evening and weekend work, before taking it more seriously.

In 2017, we got married at the top of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, which was the main catalyst for taking our business full-time; first Simon, working from the spare bedroom of our flat, then Darren, when we moved to our first studio in Bermondsey.

Simon Darren George James Architects

In 2021 we moved out of London, the time was right for us to move closer to family and find some space to maybe start one ourselves, it also gave us space to grow the business. We were lucky to find a beautifully restored old Dairy Farm near Midhurst where we have set up the studio, over the last few years we have slowly grown a creative team around us and now there are eight of us, plus Archi the studio dog.

As a small family business albeit currently a single generation, we bring a reliable work ethic to everything we do; we aim to lead by example, encourage our team to adopt a shared sense of responsibility, taking pride in all our work. As such there is a strong focus on relationships at George & James Architects, both with each other in the studio and with clients and collaborators further afield. As our relationship is already solidified at home, this cohesion and camaraderie rubs off at work. By accepting each other’s personality quirks, workplace conflicts and obstacles are more easily overcome, nurtured by a workplace culture of open and honest communication. You can read more about us – and the rest of our team – here on our website’s Studio page.

George and James team collaboration Surrey Hampshire Sussex

We are incredibly proud of how far we have grown the business, and the projects we have completed together. As a same-sex couple we enjoy equality and acceptance that not all in the LGBTQ+ community do, shockingly the UK Government has still failed to fulfil its promise to ban conversion therapy. We believe all sexual orientations and gender identities should be celebrated and we encourage all to support Stonewall’s campaign to ban this.

Take the first small step.

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