Featured in Great British Brands 2020

Yiangou Architects

Blending tradition and innovation

Yiangou Architects is a dynamic practice based in the Gloucestershire market town of Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds. Established in 1981, it has acquired an enviable reputation for the spread and scope of its work, being equally at ease in traditional and contemporary idioms. Recently, the practice won, in the same year, an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects for a contemporary scheme and one from the Georgian Society for a traditional design. This rare combination of honours is testament to the breadth of skill and knowledge that Yiangou offers its clients.


New-build country houses and extensions are at the core of the practice’s business. Designs are conceived with the site’s characteristics and the client’s requirements in mind and are executed in a variety of styles, including vernacular and traditional architecture.


Avalon is a new wellbeing centre at one of Yorkshire’s finest historic estates, sitting in parkland adjacent to a Grade I mansion. The site is challenging, being defined by a significant historic axis and protected parkland trees. The need for a large pool and ancillary rooms dictated a sizeable footprint, but the gentle slope and backdrop of tall trees permitted the inclusion of a first-floor pavilion.

The practice’s output is increasingly sophisticated, occupying a special position within British architecture

Yiangou Architects

The accommodation includes a large dance studio, a foyer and a sinuous staircase rising to the glass-box yoga studio, which commands impressive views of the parkland. The proximity of the walled garden informed the design of the uncompromising ashlar frontage and the beautifully crafted meditation pod. The sumptuous and inventive interiors are the fruit of a collaboration with stage designer Patrick Kinmonth.


Another notable instruction was at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, where Yiangou was commissioned to design a new clocktower and accommodation for the college. The keystone to the new quad gate sports a carving of an Indian elephant in full ceremonial headdress, a reference to the Far Eastern origins of one of the college’s benefactors. This exotic detail was worked in Clipsham stone by a master carver. The clocktower is a fine addition to the city’s rich and ever-evolving architecture.

The casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that the rarefied world of designing specially commissioned houses in the English countryside is beyond the fallout of Brexit but recent experience suggests that it is not. Many British and international clients are biding their time before giving the go-ahead to a long-cherished building project. However, in Yiangou’s case, it has argued that quality in design will always add and hold value while assuaging clients’ worries about unnecessary cost.

So despite the uncertain times, Yiangou has many reasons for optimism. It employs around 30 staff, many of them young and all of them talented and enthusiastic. Its projects employ predominantly local craftsmen, helping to keep alive many centuries-old skills, and use local suppliers. The practice’s output is increasingly sophisticated, occupying a special position within British architecture with its blend of traditional and innovation. There is much to look forward to in 2020.