Gary Hornsby

Architecture is about feelings, not just buildings.”

These words demonstrate the thoughtful and creative process at the heart of the Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) course.

For Gary Hornsby, design-led architecture is the key to giving his students a competitive edge. And his design-led practice and research as co-director and architect at RIBA award-winning Salt Architects – –  is invaluable to his teaching.

Gary has a long association with architecture in the city. He studied and taught the subject at the former Hull School of Architecture; and has taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at several HE institutions.

AT HSAD, Gary says, not only does the programme allow great potential for creativity, but there is a genuine opportunity for this recently reinstated course to make a positive impact on the city.

“There is more ambition in Hull than in any other city I have taught,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is give students the opportunity to be more creative in terms of understanding the brief and the site. You will see a much wider range of projects here, all set in Hull and the surrounding area.”

Projects include the creation of a post-industrial park on the River Hull corridor and an urban strategy within the Old Town.


“The idea is to give students the opportunity to be poetic in their response,” says Gary. “The emotional response people have to architecture is very important. We’re also pushing the space between the buildings – great cities have great spaces in between the buildings.”

This clear focus on the bigger picture, a sense of community and sustainability is also central to Gary’s practice. Salt Architects is, he says, one of the few design-led practices in East Yorkshire.

“Councils no longer have city planners,” says Gary. “We see that as an opportunity to have a vision for the city that nobody else is looking at. Two years ago, we did an audit of Beverley Road in Hull – one of the most under pressure conservation areas in the UK – which led to a Civic Society grant. Now, we have been asked to evaluate Whitefriargate in the city centre.

“All of our work has come through community groups or through competitions, which has led to good buildings.”

The Salt team won a RICS award for its SureStart building in Wheeler Street, Hull; a Civic Society award for its Pilots’ Office conversion in the city’s Old Town; and the East Riding chairman’s award for Anlaby House. A building on Whitby Marina netted a runner-up title in the Yorkshire Design Excellence awards and, in terms of research, the team is breaking new ground in terms of creative, sustainable buildings.

Marina 069

“From a sustainability point of view, we are creating something out of nothing,” he says. “We’re doing some interesting work on seven or eight sites with Green Future Builders and Able Network, a social enterprise training scheme for excluded people.”

Projects include the creation of a four-acre fish farming lake, with a café floating on a concrete pontoon on a former landfill site; the conversion of buses into permanent, external classrooms at Swinton School; and the creation of classrooms at a school in Todmorden.


Gary’s industry experience began at the age of 16, when he worked as a junior architectural technician at a practice in Hull; he spent four years combining work with study to gain an HNC in Building Construction; then a further four years as a technician. In the early 1980s, he gained his degree, postgraduate diploma and professional certification at Hull’s School of Architecture in Strand Close. He has been a partner at GD Frankish Partnership in Hull and later established Salt Architects with colleague Bridget Hansford. In 2008, he committed to the re-establishment of an Architecture programme in Hull, at HSAD.

He has strong links with architecture programmes in Europe and Malaysia and is a member of the Green Network, which promotes a sustainable approach to architecture. He has been a member of RIBA and the Architects Registration Board since 1989.

See more projects by Salt Architects.

Or find Gary on LinkedIn.