Alongside Joseph, James is responsible for the creative and practical direction of the studio, its leadership and is closely involved in the development of all projects from conception to completion and client liaison. James is also responsible for the development of the studio in Mexico City.

James is particularly interested in the sustainable social development of the city, in the relationship between society and the individual, and the role of architecture and urbanism in mediating between the two. Through projects and research he explores themes of housing and the domestic in the city, urbanity and density and how architecture, and particularly housing, might play a prominent role in more diverse, vibrant and sustainable neighbourhoods.

James is currently carrying out research on various topics in relation to urban collective housing and small-scale urbanism and resource equality.

Graduating from The CASS School of Architecture in 2014 James gained professional experience in London and Mexico City before establishing O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops with Joseph in 2015. He has previously taught in Moscow as Programme Director (Interior Architecture & Design) at The British Higher School of Art & Design (2015-2018) and as 5th Year Masters Studio leader at the Moscow School of Architecture (2017-2018).

James is also co-founder and editor of Eje, a quarterly review of contemporary architecture, urbanism and culture published in Mexico City.

Alongside James, Joseph is responsible for the creative and practical direction of O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops and is closely involved in all aspects of studios design work, project development and client liaison. Joseph lives and works in Devon where the studio specialises in carrying out work within Dartmoor National Park and the south west region more broadly.

Joseph previously worked for Studio Mumbai Architects in India where his keen interest in the craft of making was fostered and is particularly interested in the relationship between building and landscape, an approach that forms the basis of much of the studios work in the sensitive and protected context of the Dartmoor National Park.

Graduating from the CASS School of Architecture with distinction in 2014 Joseph gained professional experience in Mumbai, London and Moscow before establishing O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops in 2015.  He has previously taught in Moscow as Programme Director (Interior Architecture & Design) at The British Higher School of Art & Design and as a Masters Studio leader at the Moscow School of Architecture.

Sophie qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1991, and has since gained RICS Conservation Accreditation. Sophie has worked with Hunter + Partners in London; Park Lees Architects, Launceston; Van der Steen Hall Architects, Chagford; and benjamin+beauchamp architects, Wedmore. At benjamin+beauchamp Sophie worked on Voysey’s Winsford Cottage Hospital for the Landmark Trust which gained both RIBA South West Regional and National awards including the RIBA national award for conservation 2022. Sophie has a strong interest in the extension, adaptation, and refurbishment and conservation of existing buildings, and the use of breathable materials which are environmentally friendly. Sophie joined O’BVdS in 2022 and is currently working on a number of residential and ecclesiastical projects on listed buildings.

Since 2013, in parallel with his own practice, he has worked with studios in Mexico City as Residente de obra and Project Architect. In 2017 he started his participation as a teacher assistant and professor in universities in both Chile and Mexico. In 2019 he was commissioned as a curator of an Associated Project for the 2019 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and has participated as an Academic Representative in the 2020 Quito Panamerican Architecture Biennale. In 2021 his work was exhibited at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale as part of the Prishtina Public Archipielago and Co-habitats section. Daniel joinedAtelier O’BVdS + SBH in 2021. Daniel is based in the Mexico City studio and has been working on our project for a new hotel in Jalisco as well as running our extension of Edificio Humboldt in the centre of Mexico City.

Daniel is based in our shared Mexico City studio with Taller de Arquiectura sbh, Atelier O’BVdS + SBH.



Georgette joined O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops in 2021 and is responsible for the running of a number of projects within Dartmoor National Park. Graduating from The University of Dundee in 2015 with distinction, Georgette has gained professional experience in London, Melbourne and the Greek Island of Spetses. Prior to joining O’BVdS, she spent five years in a small London studio gaining extensive experience working on historic buildings in complex urban contexts across all design stages. She has been ARB registered since 2018.
Georgette currently works part-time as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Plymouth and has been a guest critic and lecturer at Falmouth University and the University of Central Lancashire. Georgette is a founding member of Terrain Talks, a Dartmoor-based forum for the discussion of regional and rural architecture that is supported by O’BVdS and RIBA South West.
Georgette is based in the Devon studio.

From Mexico City, Mariana graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at UNAM in 2019 and academic exchange at the Politecnico di Torino (2013-2014). Mariana joined O’BVdS in 2022 having previously worked for TO Arquitectura and Colectivo C733 in Mexico City on a variety of public and private projects of varying scales, in partular running a large urban regeneration project in Yucatan that formed a part of the Programa de Mejoramiento Urbana (Programme for Urban Improvement). Mariana has a particular interest in the relationship between what is built and it’s relationship with the existing and the landscape as well as the different aspects that shape people’s wellbeing and experience of buldings.

Mariana is based in our shared Mexico City studio with Taller de Arquiectura sbh, Atelier O’BVdS + SBH.

Luke studied Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture and the University of the West of England where he was involved in several live design and build projects and was nominated for the Presidents Medals Silver Award for his thesis project on the afforestation of Cornwall’s redundant china clay pits. Having gained hands-on experience working on building sites in New Zealand and the UK, Luke went on to work within multi-disciplinary design and build practices across the South West working closely with contractors and craftspeople to develop careful and considered domestic projects. Having concentrated on local and cultivated materials during his undergraduate and postgraduate studies, Luke has a particular interest in the fabric of buildings, their provenance, lifecycle and performance. He is interested in the pairing of natural and cultivated building materials with contemporary methods of construction and traditional, intuitive processes of making with our requirements of modern living. Prior to working at O’BVdS, Luke was involved with several design and build projects that use ecological materials and prefabrication methods. Luke is responsible for the design and delivery of multiple projects within the office involving the adaptation and re-use of medieval agricultural buildings and archaeological remains, he also helped to found Terrain Talks alongside other members of the O’BVdS team.

Jorge gradutated as an architect from the Autonomous University of Yucatan in Merida, Mexico. Having moved to Mexico City, Jorge worked for a variety of practices including Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos alongside running his own rendering and image making studio and doing small independant projects. Jorge works freelance for us as our principle image maker, helping with all projects in the office at all stages and in both our Mexico and UK studios.

Jorge is based in our shared Mexico City studio with Taller de Arquiectura sbh, Atelier O’BVdS + SBH.

Gabrielle graduated in June 2021 from the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Bordeaux, France. In 2019, she went on exchange to Rosario, Argentina, and took advantage of this experience to develop her vision of architecture, to discover know-how, materials and methodologies. Gabrielle has also taken part in several voluntary projects to learn construction methods and also to grasp and assimilate the links between individuals and their environment in order to be as close as possible to their history. Moreover, she has been the assistant of the artist Arnaud Théval as part of a course entitled “Art and Architecture: Monument and Intimacy, the missing city”.

Gabrielle joined O’BVdS Workshops in 2022 and is based in our shared Mexico City studio with Taller de Arquiectura sbh, Atelier O’BVdS + SBH.


Iryna Zhyvova is the office administrator at O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops in Chagford, Devon. Originally from Ukraine, Iryna has been an integral part of the team for one year and is responsible for keeping the office running smoothly. Iryna is responsible for general office administration and  financial administration, ensuring that everything runs efficiently and effectively. Graduating from Horlivka Pedagogical Institute of Foreign languages (Ukraine) with honours, having obtained master’s degree in teaching English, German and Spanish as a second language (2003)she got a degree in Economics and Management (2009) from Donetsk State University of Management (Ukraine). Iryna is fluent in multiple languages, including English, Russian and Ukrainian.

Van der Steen Hall, Allen’s practice carried out numerous projects throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset and has extensive experience in the design of new buildings in sensitive areas and on sites of special interest, and in historic building development and the conservation, repair. Allen’s practice was been awarded numerous National and Regional design and conservation awards. Allen works as a consultant to O’Brien Van der Steen Workshops, and is closely involved in our work with historic buildings and within Dartmoor National Park.

Allen was a registered architect with the Architects Registration Board and a member of the RIBA, as well as being a member of the  Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC) register.

Born in Mexico City, Santiago studied at Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Saint-Etienne and at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville, where he graduated with honours in 2016. After working for two small practices in Paris, Santiago moved to Mexico City to work for Ambrosi Etchegaray Arquitectos and then Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos. In 2021 he founded Taller de Arquitectura sbh with whom we collaborate on a variety of our projects in Mexico through our shared studio space – Atelier O’BVdS + SBH – in Mexico City.

Santiago is one of the founders of Ediciones Eje, a biannual journal focusing on architecture, territory, space and culture published in Mexico City, of which James is also a founder.