At home with ...architect Paul Testa

Q: Describe your home and its style.A: We currently live in a way past its best, late 1960s semi-detached house in a village just outside Sheffield with lovely valley views. I'm not sure it currently has a style but we're embarking on a complete remodel. This includes a low-energy retrofit project this summer, which will make the building more energy-efficient and less costly to run. Builder Terry Huggett, of Terry Huggett Developments based in Mexborough, will be the contractor as we have worked together on other projects. The work we do to our house will transform the ay it looks and feels. It will be a light-filled modern home with Scandinavian inspired birch plywood surfaces and fitted furniture.

The New Art Gallery Walsall
The New Art Gallery Walsall

Q: What is on your interiors wish list?

A: My friend Nick Grant, a design engineer, and his business partner Colin Chetwood, an artist and metalworker, manufacture the incredibly elegant Lock Lamp task lamps, They are really beautiful and the geek in me loves the simplicity of the adjustment mechanism.

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Q: Which household items could you not live without?

Architect Paul Testa

A: My Bose Bluetooth speaker has reignited my love of music after hardly listening to my music collection for years.

Q: Which architects/designers do you most admire and why?

A: I’m a huge fan of the work of Piers Taylor and his practice Invisible Studio, which is based in a self-built studio in working woodland near Bath. They strike the perfect balance between craft and Design with a capital D, often with beautiful home-grown timber structures. The early work of Ted Cullinan, winner of an RIBA Royal Gold Medal, was also very influential in my early days as an architecture student.

Q: What is your favourite building and why?

Paul's design for his own home

A: I could list a huge number of houses I love but I think I’d have to say the New Art Gallery Walsall by Caruso St John is my fvourite at the moment. The sequence of spaces as you progress up the building is a delight and all the

details are beautifully crafted. It also feels properly civic and offers much to its surroundings and community. (There is a virtual gallery tour produced by Autism West Midlands in partnership with Walsall Counci. You can see it at

Q: Is there anything exciting you at the moment in terms of building design and construction?

A: I’m really pleased that timber is becoming a significantly more mainstream construction material again. We’re getting taller timber structures that are often making steel and concrete redundant. I’m also happy to see that the the German Passivhaus standard is gaining traction in this country. It’s still slow, but it is happening.

The Lock Lamp by Colin Chetwood and Nick Grant,

Q: What and where is your ideal home?

A: A timber built Passivhaus with minimal interiors and Peak District views. I’d also have to have access to Sheffield for its great beer and great coffee.

Q: Who would you most like to invite to dinner and why?

A: Ted Cullinan gets another mention here. I’ve heard him lecture and he has an amazing way with words and with drawing. As he’s one of my early influences, I’d love to talk to him about his inspiration.

Architect Paul Testa

*Paul Testa Architecture is based in Sheffield. The team is renowned for its contemporary approach and is expert at gaining planning for difficult sites, including new, green belt dwellings using NPPF Paragraph 55, and tricky backland plots. It uses Passivhaus methods and is a member of the Passivhaus Trust.

*For more information about Passivhaus, visit the Passivhaus Trust,

Paul's design for his own home
The Lock Lamp by Colin Chetwood and Nick Grant,