6a architects was founded by Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald in 2001. The practice has gained an international reputation for its housing, cultural, educational and mixed-use projects. Sometimes described as architect detectives, the studio finds new connections between materials, landscape, climate, history and culture. Drawing on social histories, construction traditions, contemporary art and fashion, projects emerge firmly rooted in their place. 

6a’s work is the product of longstanding collaborations with engineers, horticulturalists and artists. Teaching and research is a continuous backdrop to the studio. Tom Emerson is professor of architecture and Dean of the Department of Architecture, eth Zurich where he leads a research and design studio exploring the relationship between making and the territory.

2019 saw the opening of the studio’s third phase of work with South London Gallery for the slg Fire Station in Peckham (2019), awarded an riba National Award and the expansion of MK Gallery (2019) which reinterpreted the utopian history of Milton Keynes as an elegant and playful arts and community building that has become a landmark for the city. It was named Building of the Year by the Observer and won an riba Regional Award in 2021. In 2020, two mixed-use towers on the waterfront in Hamburg were completed and two flagship stores for JW Anderson opened in Soho and Seoul. 

The studio has won multiple awards, notably winning the Schelling Medal and nominated for the Stirling Prize 2017 for its studio complex for photographer Juergen Teller (2016) for which it won the riba London Building of the Year Award 2017. In 2018, Tom Emerson was awarded the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize and Stephanie Macdonald was a finalist for the International Women in Architecture Award. The New Year Honours 2021 saw both recognised with an obe for Services to Architecture and Education, and Services to Architecture respectively.

6a is currently working on significant projects around the world. In 2022, 6a was appointed to re-imagine Tate Liverpool. 2022 also saw the opening of cara, the Centre for Art Research and Alliances in New York, Holborn House, a new community centre in central London and A2_B2, two studio buildings for the Design District in Greenwich. In 2020, Victoria State granted permission for 6a’s first building in Australia, a 13-storey mixed use, landscaped building in Collingwood, Melbourne which will begin construction in 2024.

In 2023, 6a won an international competition for a new ecology-led waterfront housing develop in Malmo Sweden.

6a architects’ work is published extensively and internationally. In 2020, the influential Italian magazine, Domus, included 6a in the 50 Best Architects in the world today. The practice’s first book, Never Modern, was published in 2014 (Park Books, Zurich) and a first monograph published in 2017 by El Croquis. 

A monograph by A+U, Japan was published in September 2022.