Caroline Cole

Caroline is Founder and Director of Colander. She has inspired many of the UK’s most successful architectural practices to develop their businesses, and has worked alongside some of the most influential developers and building owners, helping to formulate their approach to architecture.


Caroline read architecture at New Hall, Cambridge and during her professional life has worked both as a design consultant and as a client commissioning design professionals.

She works with architects, landscape architects, designers and consulting engineers, helping them develop and run effective creative businesses. She also works with clients to identify the best design teams for their projects.

Through Colander, she pioneered the concept of benchmarking for the architectural profession and, building on her commitment to integrated design, founded Equilibrium Network, a group of senior and influential inter-disciplinary women working across the built environment.

She helped set up Architects Declare and its umbrella organisation Construction Declares, a global network now operating in over 20 countries across the world, uniting all strands of construction and the built environment in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crisis.

Within Colander, she runs training courses in business development as well as undertaking business consultancy, working with Partners, Directors and senior management teams in design practices.

In addition she leads Colander’s architectural competitions service, working with a wide range of both private and public sector clients.

She has worked in-house with Arup Associates, Conran Associates and Crighton Ltd, where she became Managing Director; also, with Olympia and York where, as one of the UK’s first Design Managers, she commissioned and then managed architects and designers in the first phase of Canary Wharf. She has experience of working in Australia, Papua New Guinea, France and Scandinavia as well as across the UK.

Before setting up Colander, Caroline was Head of the Clients’ Advisory Service and Competitions Office at the Royal Institute of British Architects, where she established Client Forums across a number of different sectors, to create a unique opportunity for clients to explore and develop an understanding of the real value of great architecture.

Caroline has published numerous articles and papers about the business of design and has spoken at many conferences and seminars to promote good design to clients, and good business to the professions. She has been a judge of the Design Week Awards, the RIBA Regional Awards, the Manser Medal, the AJ Top 100 Awards and the Inspire Awards that recognise women in the built environment. She was a member of the Steering Group responsible for the Government publication ‘Architectural Competitions, a Handbook for Promoters’, and was on the Development Board for the CIC’s Design Quality Indicators.

She is Chair of the Industry Advisory Panel to the IDBE (Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment) Masters Course at the University of Cambridge; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; a Trustee of the Ove Arup Foundation; a Trustee of the Horniman Museum, where she chairs the Capital Projects Board; Chair of the Board of Trustees of SPACE Studios; an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA; a member of The Edge and a Professor at IE University in Madrid. She is on the Design Review Panel for HS2, and, as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, has recently received the Freedom of the City of London.

In her spare time, she is a ceramicist.