We work on a variety of projects across the public and private sectors. We employ a detailed and sensitive approach; from small-scale infill projects to larger scale master plan and regeneration work. Our extensive research into Child Friendly Cities means we are leading UK experts in this area. We offer a people focused approach to residential development and mixed use schemes, driving social value and sustainability in neighbourhood design.


ZCD Architects was formed in 2013, by Zoe Smith, Cordula Weisser and Dinah Bornat. The practice offers architectural design, urban design and research services. Our way of working is mutually beneficial to each approach which means we can offer a full package from community engagement, masterplanning and urban design advice, through to design development and delivery.

Our experience in designing and delivering high quality, award winning buildings means we are able to provide full architectural services on new projects on a range of sizes.  We have a particular expertise in gaining planning permission and funding for new proposals in sensitive locations and tight sites.

At the heart of the way we work is a commitment to high quality design with a social purpose. This is supported through a programme of research that puts people at the heart of developments. We have worked with the Homes and Communities Agency, UK Green Building Council on their report 'Health and Wellbeing in Homes'NHBC Foundation and others. 

Our fresh approach to urban design in residential schemes means we can help shape new projects with a view to meeting policy objectives. We are dedicated to working with our clients to create high quality developments that will meet the needs of their communities now and into the future.

In 2017 ZCD very sadly lost Zoe Smith. The practice remembers her careful, sensitive and dedicated approach to design. At ZCD Zoe was most widely recognised for the Hussein Chalayan clothing shop in Bourdon Street.


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Dinah Bornat


Dinah Bornat has been a practicing architect for over twenty years. Originally at Edward Cullinan Architects, now Cullinan Studio, she worked on a number of large scale projects, before forming her own practice and then ZCD Architects in 2013. As a co-director, her role includes overseeing all the design development of projects in the office, with Cordula Weisser. She combines this with research, advisory work and occasional teaching.

Dinah’s research into residents’ use of external spaces in housing developments means she is regularly asked to contribute to publications, give presentations and participate in events associated with health and wellbeing, social use of space and play. She has given talks for New London Architecture, Urban Design London, Homes England, Arup Associates, GLA, NIUA Delhi, Child in the City and many others.

Dinah is a Mayor's Design Advocate for the Mayor of London, a Design Review Panel member for Harrow and Hounslow councils, a member of the Hackney Regeneration Design Advice Group, an advisor to A New Direction Challenge London, TCPA inclusive communities and an editorial advisor at apolitical. She is a fellow of the RSA.

Cordula Weisser


Alongside working in practice, Cordula has been teaching for 17 years at universities in the UK and across Europe. Her teaching agendas focus on the potential of architecture to drive social sustainability.

As a director at  ZCD she has initiated several projects in Hackney Wick, where she gained an in depth understanding of the complex process of place making as an interplay between government organisation (LLDC), developers, landowners and the existing spirit and history of an area. Her projects include six new built artists studios and a ‘Hostellerie’. She is also leading on the design and development of a mixed use six-storey building in Islington and a new built house in Clapton.

Before co-founding ZCD she was a director at WAG Architecture and started her career as a principal member of FAT. Work included exhibition design, urban intervention projects and projects for art institutions.

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Rosa Appleby Alis


Rosa joined ZCD Architects in July 2014. While at ZCD, Rosa has been key in developing residential projects from concept to completion and has specialised in refurbishment and conversion projects. Rosa has a keen eye for colour, pattern and materiality.

Before joining ZCD Architects Rosa worked on urban design projects at Farrells, London and has been an ARB registered Architect since 2016.

For her Part 2 Rosa gained a distinction from Westminster University. Before training to be an architect she gained a first class degree from Goldsmiths College in fine art and history of art. 

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Ashleigh-Paige (Aggie) Fielding

Architectural Assistant

Aggie joined ZCD Architects in September 2017 following graduating from her Part I degree with a first class honours from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

Within her university work, Aggie has put forward an expansive range of socially addressed building proposals, including a large social housing scheme for New York City. Her award winning dissertation research investigated the stigma surrounding the social housing aesthetic within London council estates.

Before joining ZCD Architects, Aggie has also worked for CRAB Architects.

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John joined the practice in 2014. During his time he has worked on a number of the larger projects in the office as well on our design competitions.

John has recently broadened his skills in urban design with a Masters at Harvard University.

He is highly skilled in 3D visualisations and has extensive experience with a variety of computer softwares.

Prior to ZCD Architects he was a project architect at Jestico and Whiles where he worked on housing projects, including Greenwich Millennium Village in London.

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Helen Crombie


Helen joined ZCD Architects in January 2018, having recently moved to London from Susan Stephen Architects in Edinburgh.

Prior to this, Helen completed her Part 1 and Part 2 at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with distinction in June 2015. Her two-year master’s thesis focused on Mumbai; identifying a sensitivity to social and environmental concerns regarding monsoon flooding. 

Helen has gained a variety of experienceincluding working with Zvi Hecker Architects in Berlin.

Helen is currently completing her Part 3 at the university of Edinburgh.



Architectural Assistant

Athol joined ZCD Architects in September 2018 after graduating from the University of Brighton with a First Class honours.

Through the use of diverse ground conditions of texture and form, his university work investigated how architecture can unmask its language to children. Through the movements of play his work became the surface for a child to test the relationship between their body and its surroundings.

Tying this in with a passion for residential architecture and urban planning, Athol's alternate approach to social housing has seen him nominated for several awards including the RIBA South/South East award.


Fellow travellers

GORDON BOYD, 2014-17


Laura Mark, 2017


JACK TAYLOR, 2013-16


Museum of London I Islington Council I Kingston Council I Lendlease I Wrexham Council I Harrow Council I Catalyst Housing | Hackney Council | NHBC Foundation | Hussein Chalayan | Mount Pleasant Association



ZCD Architects is looking for Part 1 and Part 2 Architectural Assistants to join our studio!

 We are looking for confident people who are highly motivated by design, research and engagement. We are a small office, where all members of the team work on all stages of projects. This is a great opportunity to gain varied experience, responsibly and contribute to our growing practice.


We are keen to meet Part 1 and Part 2 candidates with:

-Strong design and drawings skills, both 3D and technical.

-Excellent communication and writing skills.

-Confidence to deal directly with clients, design team and contractors.

-Motivation to be part of research and engagement projects, working with communities and young people.  


To apply for this opportunity please include:

-a cover letter introducing yourself and outlining your motivation, relevant interests and why you are a good candidate for ZCD.

-a CV detailing your education, work experience and skills

-a concise portfolio (4-6 pages) that demonstrates your ability in the areas listed above.


Please send applications to jobs@zcdarchitects.co.uk with ‘Part 1’/’Part 2 Application’, respectively, in the subject line.


Closing date for applications Friday 28th June.

We look forward to receiving your application!