James was born in Derbyshire in 1972. He studied architecture at the University of Plymouth and the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. As a graduate he gained professional experience working for Simon Conder and Fereday Pollard before establishing Studio Octopi in 2005. James was a laureate in the 2010 ‘Europe 40 Under 40’ awarded by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. He has taught at Kent University over the past two years.