Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology


John Sanders

John has been a partner at Simpson & Brown since 1999. His role is to contribute to the management of the firm and to set and maintain standards of historical research, conservation approach and architectural design throughout the practice. John studied Fine Art at Central (London) School of Art and Design. He gained a post graduate diploma in Architectural Conservation at Edinburgh Heriot Watt University in 1988.

John’s relevant employment record begins with the National Trust, Northumbria Region in 1984. John worked on several significant buildings within the National Trust estate including Cragside and Lindisfarne Castle. From 1986 to 1988, John worked for The Charlewood Curry Partnership. This practice specialised in the repair of churches and country houses.  His work included new visitor facilities and major conservation work on Durham Cathedral.  

Since joining Simpson & Brown, John has been responsible for over 500 conservation projects in successive roles as project administrator and designer, associate and partner in charge. Typical conservation projects have included repairs and reordering to churches including St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee and St Andrew’s Cathedral in Aberdeen. John has been involved in substantial conservation projects to rescue derelict buildings at St Ninian's Manse in Leith, Blairtummock House and Aykley Heads House in Durham. John was the partner in charge of the £3.2 million conservation project at Blackburn House and the current £5m restoration project on Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms.

Although happy to work in contemporary architectural styles, John often works with clients who wish their buildings to have a traditional appearance. Such work has included new country houses, a new tower house, garden and pavilions at Wormistoune in Fife, proposals for a new village with a traditional layout at Reston in the Scottish Borders, a large private mansion in Kuwait and a new church of traditional Scottish design at Bouctouche in New Brunswick, Canada. Other current work outside Britain includes inspections of the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata and the Secretariat building in Yangon.

John has worked on a number of projects that have involved the assessment of substantial and important groups of buildings, which have complex planning and conservation issues. The largest has been the assessment of conservation needs of the 130 buildings which comprise the Gilmorehill Campus of Glasgow University. This assessment was an 18-month commission to produce the Estates Management Strategy which defines and sets standards for planning, conservation and design for all of the buildings, interiors and external spaces of this highly historically significant site.

John’s approach is to make the best of the past has given to us. Buildings can be creatively adapted and contemporary design has a role in revealing and enhancing historic significance. At Simpson & Brown we strongly believe that we must thoroughly understand the development and aesthetic intent of a building before making proposals for repair and alteration.




Left. Blackburn House     Right. Wormistoune Pavilions



Left. Willow Tea Rooms proposed   Right.  Victoria Memorial Hall plan