Meryl Townley

BA (Hons), DipArch, RIBA



Meryl has been at vHH for more than half her professional life. ‘When I joined it was very much Jo and Birkin running a family practice. There were only about eight of us then, working out of their house.’ vHH soon began to expand and Meryl has been central to the practice’s development, arriving in 1996, becoming an Associate in 1997 and a Director in 1999. In 2006 she became a Partner when the practice became an LLP.

 Unusually, Meryl’s route into architecture was via an inspiring architect at a careers evening at her Nottingham comprehensive, who illustrated the impact that well designed spaces can have on a teaching environment. The experience has a lot to do with why she now encourages the active involvement of vHH architects with local schools. ‘I feel we have a responsibility to show that good architecture can really improve people’s lives, and this is true in public sector projects as much as anywhere. I think the measure of a successful building is how much people enjoy using it. This is what makes it all worthwhile. Each project, site and client is unique. It’s all about listening and learning.’

 Meryl’s early experience was in social housing including different types of sheltered housing, many of which required expertise in health and housing design. At vHH she specialises in education and health and was responsible for the award-winning design for Kaleidoscope, Children and Young People’s Centre for Lewisham Primary Care Trust. Some of the key design features resulted from discussions with patients and their families, a collaborative consultation process that she feels passionately is vital for any successful project. More recently her projects have included the Barking Rivergate Centre project, which includes a large school and civic facilities, and St Benedict’s, Ealing, a Junior School built to low-energy Passivhaus standards.

Meryl is an RIBA Client Design Advisor and an RIBA Education Design Advisor. She sits on RIBA Council representing London Region.

Meryl Townley

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