With a legacy of excellence spanning over 140 years, our journey began in 1883 amidst the bustling industrial landscape of Birmingham. The oldest part of the business, Essex, Goodman and Suggitt, dates back to that very year. HMR Burgess joined our family in 1922, followed by the largest part of the business originating from Kitching and Co in 1900, laying the foundation for what would become DarntonB3. In 2020, we rebranded as DB3 Group.
Over the years, we have evolved into a dynamic, multi-disciplinary practice, expanding our offering and establishing studios across the UK. As we take a moment to reflect on our remarkable journey, let us celebrate the significant strides we have made, the challenges we have overcome, and the remarkable collaborations that have shaped our success.
In the midst of the thriving industrial revolution, our founding partner, Oliver Essex, embarked on a remarkable journey. It was during this transformative era that Oliver established his inaugural studio in Birmingham, marking the beginning of our story. In due course, the practice gained recognition as Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, extending its presence into offices located in London and Manchester. At a later date, Essex, Goodman & Suggitt were acquired by DarntonElgee, merging to create the entity known as DarntonEGS.
In 1886, the Queens Theatre & Opera House made its grand reopening on Snow Hill, Birmingham. Under the skilled direction of Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, the internal layout was transformed, surpassing the original plans. A spectacular production of "The Bohemian Girl" marked the reopening of the venue.
Image credit: Playgoer 1901/1902
1900 saw the founding of Kitching & Co. by Robert Ridley Kitching in Middlesbrough. The newly formed practice would go on to be responsible for thousands of Teesside’s buildings and homes, including listed landmarks such as the Cargo Fleet Steel Company Offices, Christadelphian Hall and the United Reform Church on Linthorpe Road. Over time, Kitching & Co. underwent several mergers and acquisitions, evolving into different entities known as Dewjoc, Darnton Elgee, Darnton EGS, Darnton DB3, and finally DB3.
The Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, which was named after the navy that defended Britain using wooden ships, was established to offer its members protection from the hardships of sickness. The architects, Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, played a central role in designing the Society's new offices on Euston Road. These offices were officially opened by King Edward VII in 1906. At that point, the Society had gathered around half a million members.
Essex, Goodman & Suggit undertook a transformative project in Birmingham, converting the Cannon building into the Majestic Theatre, with a seating capacity of 1400, it was one of the largest cinemas of it's time. The theatre boasted a range of innovative features designed to captivate even the most jaded moviegoers. On its opening day, the cinema showcased the ground-breaking film "The Marvels Of The Universe".
The roots of our Welsh origins can be traced back to 1922 when HMR Burgess was established by Haydn Burgess in his Pontypridd studio. After relocating to Cardiff, the practice expanded its reach and began offering architectural services throughout Wales. Through a series of strategic acquisitions, the practice experienced a notable transformation, resulting in a change of name to Burgess Partnership and later evolving into B3 Architects.
The Somerset building, crafted by Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, was an office building that epitomised forward-thinking design. It surpassed its era in terms of promoting wellbeing, offering exceptional natural lighting, and providing flexible office spaces that effortlessly catered to tenants' unique needs.
The Art Deco Spark's Daylight Bakery, designed by Kitching & Co., was established in 1938 on Bishopton Avenue in Stockton-on-Tees. The architectural plan brilliantly combined a bakery with company offices. Notably, the bakery's hot air was utilised to provide heating for the entire building through specially designed ducts. Today, the building holds significant historical and architectural value and has been recognised as Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England. Image Credit: Teesside Archives
After the war, Kitching & Co. was in dire need of rejuvenation. The 1950s marked a turning point with the arrival of Mike Wrightson, Dick Darnton, and Basil Elgee, infusing new energy into the company. Their practice forged valuable connections with numerous brewers, resulting in the creation of notable establishments such as Nimmo, Cameron, and Bass houses in Teesside and County Durham. Eventually, in 1961, the company underwent a remarkable transformation and emerged as Darnton Elgee Wrightson. Image Credit: BrewTrays
In the June 1959 edition of 'The Architects' Journal,' H.M.R. Burgess were highlighted for their remarkable work in post-war architecture. Their standout projects included a new Infant school in Pyle, Glamorgan, featuring an innovative prefabricated system, and a modernist extension to the County Grammar school in Ystalyfera, Glamorgan, showcasing sleek design elements such as steel-framed construction and curtain wall cladding.
In 1966, Haydn and David Burgess of HMR Burgess played a significant role in designing and organising the Aberfan Community Centre and Memorial Gardens. The Aberfan Memorial Garden, situated on the grounds of the former Pantglas Junior School, holds great significance as it commemorates the lives of the 116 children and 28 adults who tragically lost their lives in the Aberfan Disaster. Image credit: The Guardian
In 1967, Darnton Elgee Wrightson acquired Mike O'Connor's Selby practice, and reformed as Darnton Elgee Wrightson Jackman O'Connor. Not surprisingly this was popularly shortened to Dewjoc.
Built between June 1969 and December 1970, Llwydcoed Crematorium was the Wales winner of the RIBA Architecture Awards in 1971. The HMR Burgess building garnered praise from the RIBA Awards for its implementation of "indigenous materials," and its "appropriate and sensitive choice of finishes," as well as the "steep roof pitches that resonate with the shape of the local landscape."
Essex, Goodman & Suggitt collaborated on Intersection House, a remarkable architectural project that earned them victory in an open design competition. Inspired by the iconic style of Miles van der Rohe, the team meticulously incorporated emulations of his design principles and detailing into the structure. Notably, they employed the pioneering 'Astrawall' curtain walling system, known for its innovative approach that minimises external elements, resulting in a sleek and minimalist aesthetic.
Starting in 1997, Darnton Elgee dedicated their efforts to various ASDA stores, where they contributed to the development of innovative concepts. These included the introduction of value stores, the establishment of George stand-alone and interior concepts. Image Credit: ASDA
Between 1984 and 1987, Essex, Goodman & Suggitt undertook extensive refurbishment works on the iconic Midland Hotel, breathing new life into its historic architecture. Image Credit: Manchester Archives and Local Street
Essex, Goodman & Suggitt demonstrated their expertise in the careful conversion and refurbishment of the Holy Trinity Church in Tunbridge Wells. This historic building, which held a Grade I listing, underwent a meticulous transformation into office spaces. The project involved not only the skilful repair and refurbishment of the stonework and structure but also a thoughtful design that successfully preserved the church's architectural integrity.
Essex, Goodman & Suggitt revitalised the former Central Station by transforming it into an exhibition centre in 1986. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 21 March 1986, the first exhibition, Enterprise North West, was held. Over the next 20 years the G-Mex hosted a number of concerts including Manchester favourites The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, Oasis and Take That. Image credit: Mirrorpix
The challenging economic conditions of the 1992 recession impacted businesses across the board, and Dewjoc was no exception. The company faced significant difficulties, leading to the potential closure of its Leeds studio. However, this adversity served as a catalyst for positive change. It sparked a demerger from Dewjoc and gave rise to the birth of Darnton Elgee.
B3 Architects is formed through the merger of Burgess Partnership and Dent + Partners, marking a new age for the practice.
Wyn Thomas, formerly a joint senior partner at HMR Burgess was honoured with an OBE for his outstanding contributions to planning and landscape architecture in Wales. Prior to establishing his own practice in 1974, Wyn had dedicated 16 years to his role as joint senior partner at HMR Burgess. Image Credit: Landscape Institute
Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, and later DarntonEGS, played a crucial role in Sainsbury's expansion strategy by undertaking a series of projects across multiple stores. Their scope of work encompassed various aspects such as fit-outs, extensions, and new build projects.
Over a span of six years, B3 Architects underwent a substantial expansion by acquiring GHP Architects, GLR Architects, and G5 Architects. This strategic move resulted in the establishment of studios in Manchester, Glasgow, Basingstoke, and Bradford. These acquisitions not only broadened their presence but also bolstered their capabilities in Sport & Leisure, Conservation, and other areas of expertise. Additionally, the acquisition of the Building Services Partnership in Manchester further strengthened B3 Architects' offerings.
In 2008, Darnton Elgee completed a merger with Essex, Goodman & Suggitt, resulting in the formation of a new entity named DarntonEGS. The new entity had offices across the UK in Leeds, London and Bristol.
Essex, Goodman & Suggitt carried out conservation efforts at The Royal College of Music, as part of a comprehensive project that encompassed the complete restoration of the hall. The project involved implementing acoustic isolation measures and enhancing the space to transform it into a vital and inspiring facility fit for 21st-century college activities, as well as external rentals.
DarntonEGS acquired Thompson Spencer Architects
DarntonEGS completed the acquisition of B3 Architects, resulting in a rebranding of the merged entity as DarntonB3.
DarntonB3 played a pivotal role as the Architect and Design Team Leader in the development of a new Nestlé production facility, which had an astounding investment of £325m. Spanning a vast area, the facility serves as a comprehensive centre for all forms of coffee production, including freeze-dried, spray-dried, and cutting-edge pod technology.
DarntonB3 acted as the architect for the major new build development of temporary buildings at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on behalf of EDF. This project formed Europe's largest off-site construction contract.
DarntonB3 transforms into DB3 Group - reflecting our commitment to innovation and excellence.
In the wake of the pandemic, Home & Maker was founded, offering homeowners a straightforward and user-friendly way to connect virtually with architects and designers.
In 2020, Nathan McNamara joined DB3 as the Managing Director, leading the practice in terms of innovation and growth. Now, in 2023, Nathan McNamara holds the position of Group CEO.
DB3 acted as the primary architects and lead consultants for the impressive, £44 million mixed-use regeneration project in Pontypridd, Wales. The project's exceptional social return on investment of £12.6 million highlights its significant positive impact on the local community.
In 2021, Formation3D was formed out of a need for faster and safer inspections, utilising aerial technology to gain access to areas typically challenging and hazardous.
DB3 made a strategic decision to relocate their studios to multiple central cities across the UK. The primary goal of these moves was to access a wide range of talent pools and foster stronger collaborations with clients.
DB3 Net Zero draws the experience of our in-house mechanical & electrical engineers, architects, energy assessors, Passivhaus designers and sustainability experts to help the construction industry achieve their net zero targets. As part of our pledge for a better tomorrow, DB3 are proud signatories of the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge, which provides a framework to delivering net zero carbon buildings by setting targets around operational energy, embodied carbon, potable water use and health & wellbeing targets.
In 2022, DB3 achieved remarkable recognition, receiving numerous awards, including the 'Architect of the Year' accolade at both the City of Manchester Business Awards and the City of Birmingham Business Awards.
DB3 have been appointed by Acciona to provide architectural design and landscape architecture for a new £683m world class Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) for North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The facility will divert up to 700,000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year. It will be treated in order to generate electricity for up to 127,000 homes as well as generate heating and hot water for one of the UK’s largest district heat networks that will support 50,000 homes and businesses.
The transition to an employee ownership trust fosters a culture rooted in collaboration and innovation, ultimately leading to enhanced services for DB3 clients.
As part of our recent restructure updates, David Hooley has taken on the position of Head of Sports & Leisure. The role formerly undertaken by Jon Mawson is one of significance as the team at DB3 has provided design advice to Sport England, Swim England and British Cycling for over 30 years.
To achieve our targets and focus our business ambitions, Tom Hill and Julius Steinert, assumed new roles as managing directors. Tom Hill now acts as the managing director for the North, while Julius Steinert acts as the managing director for the South.
We’ll be in touch shortly.