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Archiblog Knowledgebase

To help you as a client at the very early stages of a project, as a standard service we are able to offer a preliminary ‘feasibility and options’ report to assess the site or building and its suitability for your proposed project. The report includes the following:

  • Obtaining on your behalf the appropriate digital OS mapping from which we can model the site in 3D.
  • carry out or obtain on your behalf full topographical and measured building surveys to provide the detailed information about the site and/or buildings to proceed further.
  • Access on your behalf the currently available detailed information on services and utilities.
  • Make an assessment of the history of the site, and any buildings, in terms of risks and opportunities. A detailed condition survey, quinquennial report and conservation management plan can also be carried out if necessary.
  • Assist in assessing the ‘market’ and development opportunities.
  • Assist you in preparing any necessary business case documentation required.
  • Assist you in preparing the formal strategic brief required for later stages.
  • Schematic feasibility studies to explore the capacity of the site/building(s) to meet your requirements.
  • Making the preliminary enquiries of the local planning authority regarding your proposals and their ‘view’ and ‘opinion’ regarding them.
  • For smaller projects this service is available as a ‘quick and dirty’ simplified and time limited one day (7 hours) exercise in research, investigation and brief formulation to assess the capabilities of any site or building for a fixed price of £525 (plus expenses and any VAT).

Please contact us if you have a project, or know anyone with a project, that would benefit from the service to determine the 'needs' from the 'wants' leading to a more cost effective project.

Vectorworks 2017

Just loaded the annual update to the BIM software I use and looking forward to utilising the advances in the experience I can offer. With  Webview for clients and contractors the Vectorworks model can be 'walked around' from inside or even viewed in VR through an ordinary browser, no software needed.

Spent the day in the other office now that the internet is now available on board. Now looking for clients with canalside sites 🙂

RIBA Chartered Practice

As an RIBA Chartered Practice, and Association of Self Build Architects member, KR.eativ: Architects Ltd must comply with the following, as well as the Professional Codes of Conduct for both the RIBA and ARB:

  • At least one full-time principals (Director or Partner) must be a RIBA chartered member and on the ARB register.
  • All architectural work must be supervised by a RIBA chartered member who is on the ARB register.
  • At least one in eight of all staff employed in the practice must be on the ARB register, or an Associate Member of the RIBA or a CIAT member with RIBA Affiliate Membership.
  • At least one in 10 of all staff employed in the practice must be a RIBA chartered member or Associate Member.
  • The practice must have a current and appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance policy.
  • The practice must operate an appropriate Quality Management System.
  • The practice must operate an appropriate Health and Safety Policy.
  • The practice must have a written employment policy in place which addresses the principles of the RIBA policy statement on employment.
  • The practice must have an appropriate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy in place.
  • The practice must have an appropriate continuing professional development (CPD) framework in place.
  • The practice must operate an appropriate environmental management policy.
  • The practice must commit to paying at least the Living Wage (or London Living Wage where appropriate.) to architecture students working within the practice. These students must be undertaking experience which complies with the RIBA's practical training rule, and should be completing appropriate records on the RIBA's PEDR website as part of the accreditation criteria.
  • All practices will be required to take part in the RIBA Business Benchmarking survey.

No 'architectural designer', 'architectural consultant', architectural technician', 'architectural technologist', 'building consultant', 'surveyor' or 'town-planner' etc, apart from a very few large multi-disciplinary practices, can offer the same level of professional qualification, competence or level of consumer protection in offering architectural services as an architect operating from an RIBA Chartered Practice.

There is no such thing in the UK as an unqualified architect. Anybody referring to themselves as such is a criminal under UK law. Architectural designers etc may be architects who have been struck off for fraud or incompetence, they may be partially qualified people either unable or 'couldn't be bothered' to qualify. They are therefore not architects.

The Government of this nation, for irrational reasons, allows any unqualified person to design buildings unlike 70% of the rest of the World (including Europe!). To commission persons who are not architects, or other chartered professional members of the design team (town-planners, technologists and engineers etc), to design buildings as part of the team is foolish.

Until recently I assumed everyone knew what an architect was. Recent experience has proved that is not the case! Please do contact me if you would like to know more.

In attending a variety of Networking groups and the associated variety of people it is clear that the days of architects sitting behind a brass plaque and watch the work come flooding in are gone. Unfortunately there is no local alternative for professional businesses in the construction sector which seems firmly entrenched in the twentieth century.

However, in the 1990s I was involved in what, looking back, was quite revolutionary business model. Over the years it has transmongified a number of times but is still thriving, under a different name. The local development I was working on was the Overstone Park Golf Course, associated lodges and clubhouse, as well as less local variants in Cambridgeshire and the Cotswold Water Park.

Later I was involved in a number of farm diversification schemes that found a way of reusing redundant agricultural buildings, and land, in a way that the farmers did not have to sell their capital assets.

That has given me an idea. It would be possible to combine the two, to add value to buildings, owners and design team. Are there any brave souls out there interested in putting together and funding proposals to see if any would 'have legs'? Northamptonshire (and environs) as a location appears to meet most, if not all, of the necessary criteria.

Despite his weird attraction to a misplaced glorification of the past, Prince Charles' heart is in the right place. His belief in such ideas as locally sustainable supply chains, and valuing sustainable urbanism is not misplaced though.

Portmeirion (Northamptonshire born architect) and Poundbury (Prince Charles' baby) 'work' for reasons subtly different than the classical styling they are dressed in. That difference is the level of visual detail at a human level. A feast for the eye, the beauty in the detail etc. There are many ways of including that depth of detail in more contemporary styles of architecture with materials and texture rather than applied decoration.

Kettering is located in one of the richest Countries in the World, within an hour's travelling of over 5 cities and 3 other County towns. What is going on?

  • The 'vision' of town-planners and politicians, they are making an effort but have largely failed us to date. Why?
  • The 'masterplan' for the town centre is based on outdated urban thinking, much of which contributed to the death of American Cities such as Detroit. Why?
  • The Plan mentions 'space syntax', a proven technique for analysis and recommending improvements, but only has a cheap copy carried out. Why?
  • The best new work of architecture in the town was designed mostly back in the C20. Why?
  • CABE (the Centre for the Built Environment) slated the Kettering East 'urban extension' for the poor quality, but the report appears to have been 'suppressed' and ignored. Why?
  • Development is happening on the the outskirts not in the increasingly vacant centre. Why?
  • The County is known for the quality of footwear, foodstuffs and other goods but most shops sell only foreign imports. Why?
  • The town used to have one of the finest secondary schools in the County (The Grammar School) but allowed it to be run down and close. Why?

There are a number of things that as inhabitants we can do to overturn the malaise:

  • Carry out the 'Space Syntax' analysis that the masterplan doesn't do. This will reveal the simple improvements to make to improve so many aspects of  the way the spaces between buildings works in the town. It is not rocket science!
  • Employ local fully qualified architects and urban designers not partially qualified or unqualified designers from somewhere else with a glossy brochure. It is not rocket science!
  • Buy local to boost local industries and services. It is not rocket science!
  • Require ALL buildings in the Borough to be designed by fully qualified professionals. It is not rocket science!
  • Encourage owners to bring the upper floors of town centre buildings and the vacant buildings back into use as offices, workshops, leisure facilities and homes. It is not rocket science!
  • Encourage residents and visitors to use the town centre by making car parking free or inexpensive like ALL the surrounding towns. It is not rocket science!
  • Campaign for, or create, a true campus of tertiary education level (degrees and apprenticeships) to gain the benefits of a 'University Town', but based on the vocational real World. We cannot compete with Oxford and Cambridge neither of which is far away. It is not rocket science!

As an architect I, and the few others in the town, have trained for many years to solve these problems but been consistently ignored for decades. Architects are trained to design Architecture, to inspire our work, life and play, not mere functional buildings at cheapest cost. If the town wants to have a value for money and inspirational built environment that will outlast our politicians, it can.

The nature of offices and 'business parks' is changing, the 'open plan' and 'cellular' workplaces of the past are changing. In fact even workshops and manufacturing workplaces are changing in a similar way.

Individuals are becoming, or can be, more productive because of the technology now available, it is therefore the collaboration and connections between people that is becoming more important than the traditional 'office'.

Kettering town centre has a variety of empty buildings and storeys that could be opened up under Council control / initiative along the lines of Chesham House with more loosely defined workspaces / formal meetings / informal meetings etc. Which together with the variety of coffee / eating establishments could form that C21 work environment only an hour from international connections through St. Pancras International Station and the four readily accessible international airports nearby, not forgetting the even closer Sywell!

The Royal Hotel and any surplus space in the Council Offices would be super seed projects along the line of the new 'science park' in Singapore (heavily downscaled). The missing element in Kettering is, of course, the lack of a University. However, it should be easy to set one up around the principle of apprenticeships rather than degrees. Degrees have been progressively downgraded over recent years by many educational establishments and government policies. There are a few large companies in and around the town that could assist their own futures by supporting such an initiative. The County has been quite successful with the new 'technical colleges', an a variant of that model could be a feed to, and of, the 'start up' businesses that could be fostered.

A bit 'left field' perhaps, but Kettering needs a 'kick up the arse' to thrive rather than having a history of 'bumbling along', at which it excels.

To quote from an RIBA Document Good design – it all adds up:

An architect brings more to a building than aesthetics and form.

The kind of building a business inhabits is a reflection of its values and standards. So the architect’s contribution can have a considerable impact on how the business or brand is perceived and how it performs. And, in adding value, a good designer will turn a building into a tangible asset.

For that to happen, the architect needs to be brought on board early and to work with the client to understand their business or organisation. That way they can design a building, a masterplan or an interior that fits exactly what the client needs, with architecture that is practical and functional, but also a pleasure to live in, work in or visit.

Involving an architect early on also opens the door to cost savings – both in constructing and operating the building – through innovative design solutions. And using an architect to manage the project and coordinate the work of consultants and contractors can save time and money in the
long run.

After quite a bit of experience over the years gained in other practices I set up KR.eativ: Architects Ltd, an RIBA Chartered Practice (there are very few in the Council areas of Kettering, Corby, East Northants and Wellingborough) to concentrate on projects for private clients (homes or businesses) and small developers:

  • farm diversification (offices, workshops and holiday cottages etc)
  • self build homes (member practice of ASBA) for individuals or co-housing groups.
  • housing developments
  • 'build to rent' home developments
  • commercial buildings or refurbishments such as restaurants and offices etc.
  • working with listed buildings to improve their usefulness and reduce energy costs.

To improve cost effectiveness and efficiency I have used what is now called BIM for a couple of decades. As CAD replaced drawing boards, BIM has replaced CAD to the benefit of clients and the construction industry. It also benefits building ownership and facilities management.

This 'post-Brexit' era is perhaps not the best time to grow a practice but experience shows that now is the best time for building owners and smaller developers to invest in homes (self build, buy to rent or holiday cottages) and businesses (make better use of space and lower energy use).

Something to bear in mind. An 'architectural' designer or consultant is usually using that title to avoid the legally protected one of 'architect'. If they are amateurs pretending to be architects they may have no qualifications, they probably have no or insufficient insurance, you are not protected by the ARB and the RIBA's public protection disciplinary procedures, etc. In fact such charlatans may indeed have been struck off the register. Would you seek health advice from a doctor who had been struck off the relevant medical register, no, I didn't think so.

I was reading through one of the many books in my library and came across this gem which is even more relevant now than then.

Although the architect's authority must be supreme in matters of design and taste, we may expect him to satisfy our family's requirements and our ideals of home life. It is essential there should be no mis-understanding with the architect: to give him carte blanche does not solve the difficulty; he must understand our point of view.

THE SMALL HOUSE, Arthur Martin 1909

He goes on to say

An architect is not only a person who is employed to make dull working drawings, and keep a sharp eye on the builder; he is much more than that, especially in building a homestead. He has to produce the ideal house, an important part of our whole conception of the home which we wish to possess. His duty is first to guide our ideas, then to give us ideas, and finally to produce a concrete realisation of them. Unless we are prepared to discuss the home freely with him, and unless we tell him every whim and fancy we may possess on the subject, he starts on his work most seriously handicapped.

Those words are true for homes and any other building an architect designs, whether factory or hospital etc.

All architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board. If not registered, not an architect, or even close. There is no 'equivalent' profession.

The Government has prepared a report to promote and support Garden Villages

 

The Government has prepared a report to promote and support Garden Villages (Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns and Cities, March 2016). In it there is the following statement:

We are supporting a new wave of garden cities, towns, villages and communities in Bicester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Ebbsfleet, North Essex and North Northamptonshire. Together, these have the potential to deliver over 100,000 homes with strong communities at their heart.

The interesting bit for me is the one proposed, and apparently already supported, for North Northamptonshire. It is to be located on Deenethorpe airfield and it would be good to be involved as there are very few architects in the area.

Having designed a number of housing estates and resort villages over the years, I want to know how to get involved. The many 'country estates' in the North of the County are in a prime position to benefit from new 'estate villages' that could meet the criteria for government assistance and funding.

Based on the following quote from the report:

Good design is essential if we are to create sustainable places where people want to live and be part of the local community. It will be important for expressions of interest to demonstrate how the garden village, will be well-designed, built to a high quality, and attractive. Use of qualitative and quantitative research on local public opinion will be welcomed on issues around design and community.

and speaking as the president of the Northamptonshire Society of Architects, the local branch of the RIBA, the profession can have a pivotal role in ensuring the best architectural designs are proposed, promoted, procured and built. The area also has acres of brownfield land that could be utilised.

If anyone out there knows more and is interested in preparing an 'expression of interest' for other sites in the County let me know. Using BIM Level 2 as prescribed by the Government is going to be a vital part of any bid.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/508205/Locally-led_garden_villages__towns_and_cities.pdf