Growing up in his parents’ holiday camp on the Lincolnshire coast, Mike Oades developed a strong affinity for the temporary and the nostalgic, and narratives of time and legacy have run through his work ever since. His two years, post-degree, in rapidly-changing Berlin during the early 1990s were his introduction to ‘real architecture’. With German architects tending to take on a much broader role than their UK counterparts, he gained a valuable insight into the complexities of the building process beyond the drawing board – and also used the opportunity as a lens to reflect on design culture back at home. Despite returning to follow a reasonably traditional route to qualification, Mike’s ability to take a lateral view has since become a fundamental part of Atomik’s ethos, with the varying geographies of the team regularly exploited to get a broader perspective on architectural ideas. During his diploma course at the Bartlett, the highly competitive environment convinced him of the need for architects to communicate their work in a more accessible way, and this again has informed the Atomik approach, in which client relationships are nurtured so that every project becomes a collective adventure, and design through drawing is instinctive.
Mike completed his degree in architecture at the Kent Institute of Art and Design in Canterbury in 1992, before moving to Berlin for two years of practical experience. On his return in 1994, he began his Part II diploma at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and completed his Part III at London Metropolitan University in 2000.
Mike’s portfolio not only covers a broad spectrum of building typologies, but also a wide range of working environments – from large, high-profile corporate studios such as Foster & Partners and Aedas, to smaller collaborative offices like Ushida Findlay and, of course, Atomik. As a result he is fluent in all stages of the architectural process – development, design, detailing and delivery. Career highlights range from the installation It’s not who you are, it’s how you are at the BALTIC gallery in Gateshead to the Stirling Prize-shortlisted McLaren Formula One HQ, and the £300 million Al Bahar office towers in Abu Dhabi, which won the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats (CTBUH) inaugural innovation award in 2012.
Mike is a member of the Hackney Design Review Panel and is a regular contributor to Article 25’s annual 10×10 Drawing the City charity initiative. He has been a visiting critic at several universities in the UK and Germany, and has spoken at a number of debates on urban design and regeneration issues. In 2012 Mike delivered a talk on the architecture of Astana for a TEDxAstana.