19th Jan 2022 — Toby Carr

Toby Carr

Toby Carr, our inspiring and valued former SWA team member, passed away on Monday 10th January. Toby worked with SWA for over ten years and was a wonderful and supportive colleague and close friend to many of our team. He brought a unique and creative approach to every project or initiative he led. His integrity, positivity, and commitment to going above and beyond was unmatched, and the contribution he made will be long lasting.

Toby was a natural designer, brilliant at imagining places, and with a formidable facility for drawing. He enjoyed making things and finding out how things worked. He loved fabricating models and structures for consultations, sketching ideas within the office and working on beautiful presentations, and he was a superb organiser of events. Toby was a great teacher, keen to share his knowledge and help others develop their understanding. He set a high bar for us all to aspire to!

Members of the team who have joined more recently will have heard us talk with admiration of him and the projects he was involved with and I’m sure many of our partners and collaborators will have fond memories of working with Toby over the years.

Toby led a range of projects at SWA, bringing his unique talents to their creation. We have selected a few images (above) which go some way in showing the diversity and strength of his work. On reflection, this doesn’t come close to conveying how much he contributed.


Most recently Toby led our Go-Cycle scheme in Kingston, winner of an NLA Award and shortlisted this week for a Civic Trust Award. Toby watched the overnight installation of the bridge he had designed – seeing it arrive from Wales and get craned into place gradually before dawn broke. We are incredibly proud of the project and the recognition it is getting is testament to Toby’s creativity and leadership.

Toby's photograph of SWA's windswept kayak adventure on the Thames which he led

After leaving SWA in 2019, Toby moved to Cornwall to teach at Falmouth School of Architecture and spend more time on the water pursuing his love of kayaking. This allowed him to continue the sea voyages which he started during his sabbatical in 2018 during which he kayaked 1300km in 65 days using the shipping forecast to guide his route. Some of us were lucky enough to have been taken out by Toby on a kayak trip on the Thames – nothing compared to Toby’s epic sea voyages – but still an SWA highlight. If you would like to find out more about his travels, please visit moderate becoming good later.

Toby had been living with the advanced stages of liver cancer, which had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes. His condition declined quickly and he died peacefully surrounded by friends. He spent Christmas with family and as some of you might have seen in his Instagram posts made it out onto the water for a paddle!

We have gathered some memories from SWA team members who worked with Toby.

I first met Toby when I joined SWA back in 2018. I always felt that he took me under his wing – I was working on his projects and we both loved a giggle (Toby’s giggle was infectious!). He use to laugh when we went to site together and said we were going ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘backstage’. He always managed to find something to smile about and my overwhelming memory is being happy when Toby was around. In June 2019, just before he left London for his adventure in Falmouth, I was incredibly lucky to be part of a small SWA group who he took kayaking on the Thames. I was about to see a new level to Toby’s joyfulness – his heart was most defiantly on the water in that kayak! His patience, kindness and passion was more clear than ever that day. Toby inspired so many and I will cherish the memory of my short time knowing him.



Toby was a close friend and a wonderful colleague, a huge inspiration and so much fun to work with! We worked closely alongside each other for over 10 years at SWA, during which we grew so much as architects and people. I know that having Toby alongside me for that time has shaped who I am personally and professionally. He will remain the first person I think of on so many occasions – shared memories, good news and bad, long running jokes and silly anecdotes (most recently when I saw a book called ‘Cornish Pastiche – Timeless Cornish Melodies Cooked up for Hungry Flautists’ in a shop window!)

There are so many memories but one thing that comes to mind is Toby’s capacity to instigate the unexpected and turn a project, experience or night out into something unique and special – an adventure!



Toby would often have many stories of kayaking adventures to share after a weekend or a trip away. It was such a joy to get an insight into his world when he led a group of us kayaking on the Thames. The rain and thunder in June didn’t dampen our spirits! Many memories with Toby seem to be outside and constructing stands for an engagement event one chilly January was no different. His enthusiasm was infectious.


Toby was a very kind and intelligent person that left his mark on everyone he met and worked with. Following his departure from SWA, clients and project team members would always speak fondly of him and ask how he was getting on. He had an exceptionally creative mind and his positive outlook on life was always felt in the office and the project he worked on. He remains an inspiration both in his professional and personal achievements and his legacy continues to live on at SWA, through the incredible work he has done and which continues to inspire new work. He will be sorely missed.



Toby wasn’t just a nice colleague to work with, he guaranteed to brighten up my day when I saw him, always smiling and laughing. I count myself very lucky to have spent each day working alongside him. He saw the best in people and was able to put a positive spin on just about any situation. I admired him so much for this, and there is rarely someone in life that I have learnt so much from professionally and personally.

Toby was an incredible mentor to younger staff, he was passionate and approachable, inspiring others to grow and learn. He was always calm under pressure and good willed and had an incredibly strong sense of what was fair or moral in the world.

I loved his energy and always looked forward to hearing about his adventures over the weekend. I remember he always threw everything into whatever he was doing, no matter if it was work, crazy golf or some country dancing (to name just a few memories)!! Everything got the same Toby treatment! Rarely does anyone have so much energy and love of life, and it was a joy to see.



Working with Toby was a true pleasure: he was equally passionate and committed as he was curious and enquiring. One could offer an idea or an opinion and know that, instinctively, Toby would understand what was meant, take it on board (or not!) and work with it. What a rare quality! His interests outside architecture brought huge insights into our work, enriching it and pushing it to develop through many media and interpretations. I will miss the conversations, the analysis, the ethics, as well as the banter and the fun, especially over a few pints! All of us have been privileged to know you. May you float forever on the water….


Toby will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. We know that the impact Toby has made on both a personal and practice level will resonate as a positive and inspiring legacy for long into the future. We fondly recall his distinctive laugh, his love of a good pint, and his ability to spin a mischievous yarn!

A memorial service is being held on Friday 28th of January and his ashes will be scattered on 25th June in a kayak flotilla.

Toby left clear details for his funeral and did not want any flowers but preferred donations to his two favourite charities: The RNLI and Fanconi Hope. His family have created Just Giving pages for these accessed via the links above.