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Who we are


Hrafnhildur Ólafsdóttir

JC b.jpg

John Cooper

Director JCA

Architect RIBA, ARB       



M.A(Cand.Arch) Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark 2000

B.S. Architecture, University of Florida, US 1994



English, Italian, Danish, German, Icelandic

Hrafnhildur is a co-founder of JCA and is a Director of the practice as well as a lead designer.


Having studied architecture in US and Scandinavia, she has over 18 years of experience of healthcare architecture combining extensive design skills with detailed knowledge of medical planning.  She has a keen interest in the contextual and urban issues that shape the design of hospitals as buildings of civic importance.


Hrafnhildur is a strong concept designer and has led the design on several competition winning schemes at JCA, including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg, the Khalid-Al-Hasan Cancer Centre in Ramallah as well as a shortlisted entry in the Kaiser Permanente Small Hospital Big Idea competition.

Her previous work at Anshen+Allen, Avanti and Scandinavian practice CF Moller architects on innovative projects including the New Pembury Hospital PFI in the UK, the design competition winning Royal Victoria Women and Children’s Hospital Exemplar in Belfast and the Ahus Hospital in Norway have given her a broad perspective and knowledge of international best practice.

Director JCA

Architect, ARB



B.A.(Hons) Dip. Arch. Cantab 



English, French



Architects for Health 2009-2014

Committee member: current


Programme leader 

European Healthcare Design Congress

John is a leading figure in healthcare design and has been a principal in practice for 35 years. He is actively engaged in reshaping the healthcare environment and improving and re-forming its architecture, combining an expert understanding of health planning with genuine design skills at both a strategic and a detailed level.


He set up JCA in 2009 with Hrafnhildur Olafsdottir. The practice has worked in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Iceland and Australia and is currently working in Switzerland and Palestine. This provides John with an international perspective and a wide ranging knowledge of best practice. He has led government report panels and provided peer review on major projects in the UK and Australia.


John co-founded Avanti Architects in 1981, pioneering social architecture and designing a wide range of residential, community and regeneration projects. In 1995 he led the design team for the ACaD Centre and on the strength of this project Avanti developed rapidly as a major healthcare practice under his leadership.


After twenty years at Avanti, John joined Anshen Dyer (reformed as Anshen + Allen in 2006) as healthcare director and in his seven years at the practice A+A won and designed 12 major projects from complex tertiary hospitals for oncology, paediatrics and maternity to innovative community facilities and competition winning mental health units.

He is a regular speaker at conferences in the UK and overseas and has written for the major architectural journals in the UK. He was chair of Architects for Health (2009-2014) and is still actively engaged in this organisation. He is currently involved in organising the annual European Health Design Congresses in London.

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