Practice Profile: One Works

Interpreted Identities features ten installations from architects and artists. For each, designers chose to interpret the identity of an extraordinary woman through architectural means. 

We spoke to London studio, One Works, who has interpreted the identity of Annie Besant (more about her here), to find out more about the firm and the reason why it chose Annie.

Why did you choose your extraordinary woman?
Annie Besant (1847–1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer and orator, and has been recognised for many actions in her lifetime. The ‘Annie Folly’, designed by One Works, celebrates her involvement in the Matchgirls Strike of 1888 - a famous industrial action by the women and teenage girls working at a match factory in London.

Represented in a form of unity and strength, each of the 1,400 scaled matchsticks represent the 1,400 ‘match-girls’ involved in the strikes caused by the poor working conditions in the factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, but was sparked by the dismissal of one worker.  Annie, represented by the highlighted matchstick, acts as an inspiring reminder of the strength in numbers and how one person’s actions can catalyse collective action towards a greater result.

Annie stood out to us. We were looking, as an architectural practice, for a stronger connection to a place or an event, something we could represent, and we landed on the 'matchstick revolution' which Annie Besant was a part of. 

What is your practice best known for?
One Works is best known in Italy for working in the transportation industry, on projects such as train stations and airports. 

What is on the drawing board?
We are currently working on a metro station in Oslo (this is for a competition) and a redevelopment masterplan in Mecca, set to open in 2022. 

What is your favourite project of One Works?
CityLife Milan Piazza Tre Torri Retail and Plaza. This is a public space, integrated with a metro station and located in between skyscrapers. Here the station becomes part of the fabric of the city — that's what the practice is about.

How does your folly reflect the approach of One Works?
We like to take a lot of complex ideas, values and principles and come up with a system and strategy to address that and put this into a simple, logical form. With our practice we manage large projects. We try to find a simple solution and this folly was just as complex and challenging in its own way.


One Works pulls it all together; as a global design and consultancy firm, we offer integrated architecture, infrastructure and urban engineering services. One Works are experts in dealing with crowded spaces. Their extensive knowledge of diverse physical, environmental, historical and social conditions, help create and shape dynamic places for people.


75 Newman Street London
W1T 3EN , UK
+44 (0) 20763 77255

To find out more about the Interpreted Identities design challenge, click here.

Olivia Mudie