Who We Are

Arbor Architects was founded by Elly Deacon Smith and Matt Hayes. Having amassed experience working across the UK, Elly and Matt spent 6 years successfully collaborating on a number of projects at Architype Architects where they discovered a shared passion for naturally built and carefully crafted buildings.

Elly and Matt have a wealth of complementary skills and experience that enable them to work on projects of varying scales, across a variety of sectors.


Prior to forming Arbor Architects, Matt was a Project Architect at Architype where he has been running projects of varying scales since 2009. He has successfully delivered a number of exemplar Passivhaus projects including the first Passivhaus Plus building in the UK, Bicester Eco Centre.

Matt has skills and experience at all project stages, from early concept design to technical detailing and contract administration. He has significant software skills and is expert in the BIM software Revit. He also has experience using the Passivhaus Planning Package and has an in-depth knowledge of Passivhaus detailing for stringent levels of airtightness and thermal bridge free construction.

Matt takes a hands on approach to construction and has recently completed a self-build extension to his own house. During this process, Matt was able to develop his knowledge of timber detailing and gained hands on experience working with many of the sustainable products that we specify regularly.

Outside practice, Matt has strong links to architectural education and is a part-time unit leader at Birmingham City University. This has given him access to current academic research and links to a wide range of practicing architects in the UK.


Elly has been a qualified architect since 2007. Prior to forming Arbor Architects, Elly was an Associate at Architype Architects in Herefordshire where she lead a variety of projects and developed key skills in management and business development.

Over the last few years, Elly’s main focus has been working on community based projects, including the Gellideg Wellbeing Centre and Shaldon Road Community Housing, honing her skills in consultation and client engagement. Elly has also worked closely with NMiTE, Hereford’s pioneering new engineering and technology university, to help them define the new forms of learning spaces required to deliver the radical new pedagogy and develop schemes for sites across the city.

Before joining Architype full time, she was a partner at Rocket Architects, where she delivered a variety of projects for domestic clients across the UK, including certified Passivhaus homes.

Elly started her career at White Design in Bristol where she spent 6 years working on a number of award winning, low energy projects including the Dalby Forest Visitor Centre and the Knowle West Media Centre. She built up strong links with the city which she still maintains today.