From an early age, Sophie McCarthy was designing and building elaborate houses and cities for her three sisters, using whatever she could get her hands on: video boxes, wooden blocks, Duplo and card. Being an architect is all she has ever really wanted to do, for the diverse circle of collaborators, the huge variety of project types and challenges, and the satisfaction of seeing someone – even her sisters – thrive in a space that she has created for them. For her, the broad-ranging, problem-solving role of architect is vital to the business of construction, and one to be celebrated. Having led her own all-female studio for several years, she exemplifies – and is empowered by – Atomik’s attitude that values the person rather than their gender.
While every project demands a different approach, sketching and modelmaking remain central to Sophie’s design process as tools for exploring materiality, light and space. Reflecting the wider practice, she is intentionally a non-specialist specialist, preferring to work with consistent care and attention across a wide range of scales and typologies. She finds the invisible, meticulous detailing, which most people might not notice, but which brings together anything from a piece of furniture to a large-scale façade system, deeply satisfying.
Sophie studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, graduating with distinction in 2005 and subsequently completing her Masters of Architecture.
She then worked on cultural and heritage projects at practices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, before moving to London in 2007 to lead larger schemes in Europe and the Middle East. Sophie set up her own practice – Kirkwood McCarthy – in 2013. Her portfolio covers residential, hospitality, hotels, museums and office projects at many different scales, and in widely varying contexts. This experience, working in practices large and small, and for herself as a practice founder, means she is skilled at all levels of project delivery, and is particularly suited to working across Atomik’s broad range of project types.