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Archiblog Knowledgebase

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.

I've been reading my extensive library again.

I've been reading my extensive library again and found some gems (and my comment) from between the wars that are still relevant today but completely ignored by most non-architects and builders:

  • Bathrooms should be conveniently placed near the bedrooms they serve, but WCs screened as far as possible - The 'family bathroom' as sold by estate agents does not always meet the needs of home-owners. Separate toilets can reduce queues! The usual requirement for privacy makes the modern 'fashion' for placing the required downstairs toilet next to the front door an insane decision in most cases.
  • Oblong rooms are often more convenient that square ones - The greater wall area for the floor area can make for easier placement of furniture.
  • Where privacy is required, doors into the room should be hung as to screen the room from the person entering - This provides a small amount of time for the occupants to 'prepare'. Many houses in the UK at present are far too small to accommodate this politeness as around 300mm or more is required between door and the adjacent wall!
  • Light fittings should never be placed in the centre of the ceiling - This is a good one because if they are the light is wrong for reading, dressing, cooking and most other room activities. Ceiling lights mounted near windows in bedrooms prevent people dressing and undressing creating shadows on curtains.
  • The orientation of rooms is also important and the recommendation for most people would be for breakfast areas to face East and studies North for example - My own home, dating from the Thirties, has all main rooms facing roughly Southwards. 'Servant' spaces, kitchen and the smallest bedroom face North, there is also a Southwards facing balcony outside the second bedroom allowing it to be used for sunbathing in complete privacy. All very simple things that need considering when you are designing or looking for your new home.
  • Another obvious one to think about is that many new homes have the bottom or the stairs facing the front door. Why? The stairs are most often used whilst in the house and you end up having to walk the length of the stairs to walk back up them. When considering a new home it is worthwhile thinking about such things so that current inconveniences are not simply repeated needlessly.
  • Another somewhat obvious one is to ask yourselves whether you need a 'cellular' or 'open plan' solution. Families can 'want' cellular because that is what they are used to, or may want 'open plan' because they've been seduced by magazine pictures or TV programmes: cooking is smelly, washing machines and dishwashers noisy, separate rooms is quieter, open plan is useful for families and entertaining. There are solutions to conflicts, and that is what architects are trained to do. Solve design solutions.


If you are in need of an architect, why not employ one? There are only three RIBA Chartered Practices in the whole of the Kettering Borough!