design philosophy & about us:


Architects sculpt space and light with structure. In our buildings, we strive to elevate, celebrate and create poetic journeys through space for our clients. We frame connections to the outdoors so you always feel the closeness and beauty of nature surrounding you or the bustle and energy of the urban environment. The influential architect, Le Corbusier, famously said architecture is a machine for living in, we strive to ensure our buildings are sustainable and beautiful solutions. Part of a global effort to create green spaces to enhance our clients well-being and support the planet.

Our work goes beyond the design of buildings to include fittings, interiors, lighting fixtures and landscape elements to create a cohesive design, manifesting our clients vision and reflecting what they want to achieve to enhance their lives. Without our makers and artists, our builders and craftspeople, we would be unable to get beyond beautiful drawings. We have a craft-based approach to architecture with extensive use of physical models, sketches, paintings and mock-ups. We are very grateful to have as part of our team a select group of artisans and contractors that we work with repeatedly to build our projects . They are irreplaceable, ensuring a beautifully finished building.

About Orla Huq:

Orla was lucky enough to study in architecture school in Europe at the moment when the award winning Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders of the Pritzker price winning architecture firm Grafton Architects, and also Royal Institute of British Architects gold medalists Sheila O’Donnell and John Twomey, were leading her architectural design studios. In 2015 O’Donnell Twomey were joint recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Brunner Prize, both awarded in recognition of a lifetime of work. Their combined body of work revitalizing cities in Europe and South America is inspiring. Orla’s design philosophy emphasizes the power of the building section in building design, celebrating the proportions of each space and its ability to manipulate light. She spent many summers growing up with her Mom, an architecture enthusiast, and her Dad, a mechanical engineer, exploring stately homes in Europe.

Her architecture school emphasized the study of architectural design and theory, studying in depth the great European architects of the 19th and 20th century. During summers and Christmas vacations, full time internship work in architecture offices was encouraged to round out technological expertise. Sudents also take a year out, architectural internship between part 1 and part 2 RIBA, she worked in firms in Canary wharf, London on office building development projects and for Perkins and Will Architects in Chicago designing hospitals in Dubai and in the German ski resort town of Oberstdorf, Bavaria. Graduating second in her class, honors with a bachelor of architecture degree RIBA part 1 and part 2 from a Royal Institute of Architects accredited school, she joined the eminent Arthur Gibney Associates, an architecture firm in Dublin, Ireland, developing designs for University Campus buildings before moving to California.

Her thesis was an Oceanography Center and Aquarium on the west coast of Ireland. Her design philosophy is based on her belief that building projects can integrate architecture and landscape in artistic ways. As opposed to a pure melding of structure with nature, these buildings and infrastructures stand out from their surroundings like art pieces in a museum. At the same time, they prove that architecture need not dominate in order to create strong aesthetic contrast; by building dialogues between manmade objects and the natural world, architects can provide new perspectives of existing landscapes, thereby deepening our connection with the environment. She was hired by the wonderful EHDD architecture, a design focused studio, and worked on the design of notable Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and other Aquarium and Laboratory buildings. She was very happy also to join the residential arm on some projects with the great Joe Esherick, famous for Sea Ranch, founding Partner, developing high end custom residences.

Working with Howard Backen and the great modernist Robert Hatfield in Northern California, she has worked on the design of winery production buildings, resorts, condominium developments, laboratory research buildings, museums and celebrity homes.

She started her own architecture firm, designing commercial and high end residential projects, based in Sausalito, California.

Her design philosphy is based on a client centered approach to architecture, believing that the most beautiful work comes from a collaboration between the architect and client.

Orla Studios celebrates the relentless pursuit of the magic in architecture, that light filled sustainable buildings are the future and that the client’s wellbeing is paramount in the design of their projects.

Orla has written extensively about netzero architecture, flood resilient architecture, green passive house design, sustainable urban planning, and the Big U.

She is lucky enough to have raised, as a single mom, two wonderful now grown up children, one based in Sausalito and one in Seattle. Absolutely the best thing she has ever done.

Orla is a licensed architect in the state of California.



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