Who Are We
How many young people look around and feel that they have a say in what they see?
MATT+FIONA is a social enterprise founded in 2016 and led by architectural educators Matthew Springett and Fiona MacDonald, supported by a small core team.
We share a deeply held commitment to change design education and the built environment for the better. We empower young people and enable their ideas about the world around them to be expressed and made real.
We never set out with activism in mind. We are two like-minded designers who met through a volunteer outreach programme, became friends, discovered shared ambitions and wanted to test if our unconventional idea had traction.
We found that our concept resonates powerfully and holds value from many different perspectives. Over the past 5 years we have worked with many leading community, cultural, educational and built environment organisations to create and deliver more than 20 buildings and installations, collaborating with more than 1,000 young people and 100 volunteers across the UK.
In 2022, we are entering an exciting period of growth. We look forward to working with many new and existing collaborators to make the next stage happen in the journey to a better built environment and better education.
Why is our work needed?
Children and young people will inherit the spaces we create. But too often they have no voice in shaping these.
A UK survey in 2020 showed that 89% of young people are never asked what they think of the places and spaces where they live, study, work and play.
When people are asked in surveys about their ability to bring about change in the places around them, they often say they feel disillusioned and powerless. Young people, especially those who are marginalised, feel this lack of influence even more strongly.
At the same time, not all young people ‘fit the mould’ into which the current UK school curriculum seeks to set them. There are fewer ways for children and young people to explore a broader range of activities and interests, especially in creative fields such as art and design.
MATT+FIONA believes everyone should have the right to shape their built environment. We ask young people how their built environment could be improved and empower them to bring that vision to life.
Dip (Dist) RIBA ARB FRSA
Matthew Springett is principal of London based architectural practice, MSA. He studied at St Martin’s School of Art and The Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow, before graduating from The Bartlett School of Architecture in 1998, winning the RIBA Silver Medal and Bannister Fletcher Prize. He worked with Chris Wilkinson Architects and for Sir Nicholas Grimshaw before establishing MSA in 2001.
He is an accredited RIBA Client Adviser specialising in education design. He runs an architectural design studio at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where he has taught over the past 14 years.
Matthew’s office offers a creative studio environment in which collaborative working is encouraged. The practice has a long-term R&D strategy based on active ‘making’ which encourages input from all staff. As well as building design, MSA explore the broader realms of architecture through built installation projects, and have recently won and delivered projects in the United States and UK. MSA’s work has been widely exhibited including 2008 solo exhibition ‘BIGSMALL’ in London. Matthew’s work was been recipient of the Royal Academy ‘Best First Time Exhibitor’ in 2002.
MA DipArch FRSA
Fiona endeavours to bridge design and participation in her practice, particularly from the perspective of view of young people. In her architectural training, she completed her undergraduate studies at Edinburgh University where her work was nominated for the Bronze Presidents Medal and won The Lighthouse Award.
Her postgraduate studies were at The Cass in London where her final year project was nominated for the Silver Medal and won RIBA London’s Live Community Project Award.
She has taught architecture at both Edinburgh University and The Bartlett, and Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art, UAL.
Outside academia, Fiona has become experienced in opening up the built environment to the wider community. For three years she ran the education projects at the architecture charity, Open-City, home of the Open House London weekend. She established the National Schools Programme for the Royal Institute of British Architects. Fiona is Head of Learning at the Design Museum and a trustee of DesignEd.
Lucy joined M+F as a core team member in 2019, she is an Architect and lecturer in Construction Technology + Live Build on BA Interior and Spatial Design at UAL. She recently completed a 1 year course in advanced timber construction at the Wood Program in Aalto University, Helsinki.
Alex is a fully-qualified Architect working for Matthew Springett Associates and a patriot M+F volunteer. Alex enjoys a plethora of outdoor activities but due to recently having a baby finds himself limited one activity; sofa tv watching.
Rosie is a Part 2 Architecture graduate, who enjoys exploring natural materials in her builds. She joined the M+F team in 2022 while also finding time for climbing and pyrography.
Previous Project Managers
Brixton House, Design Lab, Bartlett Outreach
Tilly joined the team in 2020 and has volunteered with M+F since 2016. She splits her time between art and architecture, but when she is not sketching away you can find her eating tonnes of tasty Sri Lankan food.
Mega Maker Lab
Harry is a London-based architectural assistant with an interest in architecture on a personal scale. In his spare time, Harrison can be found in the cinema or climbing up walls
Mallydams RSPCA, Sheltered Spaces, Mega Maker Lab
Having studied Architecture at the Bartlett, UCL, Aggie joined the M+F as a core team member in 2019. Aggie to date has the highest number of counts in the M+F accident book.
Splitting her time between Turks & Caicos and London, Kate is enjoying travelling, spending time with family and designing nature-based projects. Missing being hands-on and making, she tries to keep up pottery when she can!
Room for Art, Mallydams RSPCA, Phoenix Maze
Dovile is a London based illustrator and architectural assistant. She is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University, and has since worked as a project manager for M+F between 2017-2019. She is about to begin her postgraduate studies in Architecture.
BUILD 2016, Made in Oakfield, Room for Art, Form
Jacob studied Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, and worked as a project manager for Matt and Fiona from 2015–2017. He since co-founded multi-disciplinary studio Bureau Bureau.
Milly finished her Part II at CSM in 2019 and is passionate about nature based learning and play. She works part time as a play-worker and with a number of arts and education organisations
Ben Barfield Marks
Samantha Lim Wei Chi
Our Industry Sponsors
MATT+FIONA is incredibly grateful to our Industry Champions for their support of our pioneering mission, to enable children to make their own spaces and places.
The Happold Foundation have been a core support to the Matt+Fiona initiative. They are a charity dedicated to using engineering skills and experience to make a positive impact on people’s lives. They work with young people, educators and researchers to shape a community who want to improve the built environment.
Buro Happold are our inaugural Structural Engineer Industry Champions. They are an international engineering consultancy, delivering creative, value led building and city solutions for an ever changing world. We are so grateful for their constant energy in finding innovative solutions to complex problems and their teams regularly volunteer on our builds with children.
Jestico + Whiles are our inaugural Architecture Industry Champions. They are a design-led international studio of architects and interior and designers based in London and Prague. They provide invaluable industry expertise and their teams regularly volunteer on our builds with children.