Practice moves up in annual UK rankings
The practice has moved up in both the ‘Top 150 Firms’ and ‘Top 30 Architects’ league tables in Building magazine’s ‘Top Consultants File 2014’
By Managaing Director Gary Whittle
The practice now ranks 41st in the Top 150 Firms, up from 46th in 2013, and 11th in the Top 30 Architects, up from 13th in 2013 – with both places based on the number of UK-based chartered staff.
This year’s File paints an encouraging picture of practices working in a UK economy which has turned the corner, with the London-centric growth of 2013 having broadened out into a wider upturn across the UK.
In 2014 we continued to invest for future growth through our international strategy and by extending the geographical reach of our global network of 16 studios, which was active in 43 countries during the year.
We also invested in a series of strategic appointments to enhance the unrivalled diversity of our 500 plus strong team of design experts and our distinctive client-focus, which continues to position us as a long-term partner, with over 75% of income from repeat business.
Operational highlights in 2014 include the completion of London’s tallest residential tower, ‘The Tower, One St George Wharf’ (UK), the iconic 9,000-seat National Gymnastics Arena (Azerbaijan) and the landmark National Heart Centre (Singapore).
National Heart Centre wins at MIPIM Asia
The landmark National Heart Centre in Singapore, designed by the practice, was a winner in the ‘Best Innovative Green Building’ category at the high-profile MIPIM Asia awards 2014
The Awards recognise the property industry’s best and brightest players in the Asia region, rewarding innovation and achievement across a variety of fields. They involved a jury of 17 industry experts examining 126 projects from 13 countries.
A final ranking of winners was revealed during a prestigious gala dinner in Hong Kong, attended by over 300 movers and shakers from the regional real estate industry – with the Centre being awarded a silver award.
The practice was lead design consultant on the 48,000sqm, 12-storey Centre, which was recently opened by Singapore’s Prime Minister.
The team has delivered a patient-focused environment that features a mixture of green courtyards, sky-gardens and landscape views to create a welcoming and calming environment conducive to patient well-being and the healing process.
The sense of openness carries through to the external finish, with the façade appearing to be stripped back to reveal the gardens and courtyards – and better connect people to the wider environment.
Director Ed Baker said: “Our expert design team wanted to challenge people’s perceptions of healthcare and, by working in close partnership with the Ministry of Health, we have delivered an exciting and dramatic space that’s better for patients and staff – and stands as a vision for the future of healthcare facilities in Singapore and beyond.”
72% says ‘Tech in the City’ aids well-being
Our public poll reveals that almost three-quarters of people (72%) believe that IT has a significant or very significant positive impact on the well-being and happiness of city dwellers
Of a 100 respondents, 44% report that IT has a significant impact on the well-being and happiness of city dwellers. 28% go further, saying it makes a very significant impact, with only 28% attributing the impact as insignificant.
Director James Rayner said: “IT will play an increasing role in helping citizens move about in cities, it will create new types of shared places, aid city management and also drive citizens’ engagement in decision-making.
“We see IT as a new layer to cities, enhancing our ability to interact with our built environment – rather than replacing or mediating our basic human needs for shelter, culture, recreation, social and economic activity.
“However, we also urge that the human experience is kept at the heart of city and place design and that the focus is put on creating well-designed places which enhance the well-being and happiness of citizens.”
Major supplement celebrates stadium completion
The recently-opened Hassa Bin Zayed Stadium and mixed-use development in Al Ain, UAE, designed and masterplanned by the practice, was the subject of a recent major supplement
Earlier in the year, following an official opening, the Al Ain football team played current English Premier League champions Manchester City in a high-profile friendly, with the visitors going on to win 3-0 in the 25,000-seat Stadium – the most modern, state-of-the-art facility in the Middle East.
Now, the Stadium has been the subject of a major supplement published by leading Middle East-based publication Construction Week, including a contribution from the team – the first time we have been able to talk about the Stadium since completion.
Director Ian Apsley said: “The supplement is a celebration of the opening of the Stadium, which is a major milestone in the delivery of the wider scheme and testament to our world-class and integrated team of diverse design experts working in close partnership with the client to create a major new leisure and entertainment destination.”
The Stadium and mixed-use scheme will ultimately comprise over 3.3m sq ft of development, including hospitality, commercial and residential space, and represents a major new destination in the city of Al Ain.
The team is the lead design consultant and masterplanner on the scheme for all the design stages, with its expert masterplanners, architects and designers having led an international team of specialist designers and engineers. The practice is now working on the second phase of the masterplan, which includes a variety of new residential and commercial buildings, a retail facility and a four-star hotel.
Hosting 35 senior Angolan officials in London
The Angolan Minister of Construction was among 35 government officials who attended a two-day workshop and study tour hosted by the practice’s masterplanning team
By Director of Masterplanning Monika Bik
High-level delegates from the Angolan Ministries of Construction, Urbanism and Housing, Energy and Water, Territorial Planning and Development and Environment, as well as from the Governor of Luanda’s Office and Mayor of Luanda’s Office, recently met with our team in London.
We hosted the delegation as part of our current project to deliver a masterplan vision to transform Luanda, the capital of Angola and one of Africa’s most dynamic cities.
This is seeing our multi-disciplinary team analysing the city’s geography, socio-economic conditions, morphology, infrastructure and environmental context, to prepare a sensitive and sustainable long-term urban renewal and growth plan that helps establish Luanda as a major economic force in Africa.
It’s as formidable as it is fascinating – involving the overhaul of housing and infrastructure in a city with widespread poverty, a very high population density and, critically, no census data.
Ideas and vision are critical to the project and as part of the consultation process, and to help our clients understand how world-class cities work, we took the delegation to east London to see the rapid regeneration resulting from the 2012 Olympics, as well as other key development sites in the UK capital.
The tour has stimulated much debate on the future of Luanda, it will directly influence the development of the project and is a reminder that physical site visits can play an invaluable role in getting ‘under the skin’ of complex projects and consulting with clients.
Canadian masterplan highly commended by Institute
The masterplan for the revitalisation of East Village in Calgary, Canada, delivered by the practice, was highly commended at the Landscape Institute Awards 2014
East Village featured in the ‘Urban Design and Masterplanning’ category, with the awards staged to showcase ‘outstanding examples of work by the landscape profession, promote the art and science of landscape architecture, advance the knowledge and understanding of the discipline, celebrate professional expertise and reward schemes that demonstrate a high level of commitment to sustainability.’
Acting as a masterplan advisor to the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the practice delivered a visionary masterplan for a mid-rise, mixed-use, amenity-rich, community in which 12,000 new residents would live. The redevelopment project covers approximately 55 hectares of land in Calgary’s downtown core, and sits on pristine land at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
The practice’s London-based expert masterplanning team led the project and created a sensitive and desirable vision of a revitalised East Village, representing a new urban village which incorporates existing buildings, addresses new pedestrian and vehicular connectors and incorporates landscape features in a unique, compelling manner.
Director of Urban Design Phil Bonds said: “The vision delivered by our expert masterplanners in partnership with CMLC has already stimulated a number of enlightened development projects which are now rapidly converting East Village into a vibrant urban village.”
UK college projects shortlisted at Education Estates
Furness College in Cumbria and Kirklees College in Huddersfield, designed by the practice, were shortlisted at the Education Estates Awards in Manchester, UK
Comprising a two-day exhibition, conference and awards ceremony, Education Estates is designed to bring the education sector together to share best practice and knowledge, with the team’s two projects shortlisted in the ‘Project of the Year’ (Colleges and University) Award category.
Furness College (pictured) accommodates 2,500 students, teaching and support staff and involved 14,500sqm of new build, as well as an additional 4,000sqm of existing, refurbished building and new sports facilities – making it one of the largest further education colleges in the UK.
The practice designed a flexible and integrated teaching and social environment, a unified campus and incorporated public-facing spaces, with the building envelope wrapped in distinctive sheet copper.
At Kirklees College, the team designed a 28,380sqm campus comprising three distinct, but mutually supporting, elements of Further and Higher Education and adult skills, interlinked within one campus and an iconic ‘entrance street’. The three building blocks were also designed so as to be distinguished through the use of different materials.
With retail malls today’s glitz is tomorrow’s so-what?
Intelligent and anticipatory mall design that plugs into the psychology of the customer and anticipates the market helps to maintain sustained shopper appeal
By Director Jeremy Salmon
Developers are happy when their schemes are filled with people and activity, creating a buzz, being talked about and, above all else, being used. People are happy when their aspirations and expectations are being catered for – when they get more from a ‘shopping experience’ than simply buying things and get a sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and enjoyment.
As retail designers, it’s our job to shape these spaces to make them work for the customer’s ‘front of house’ expectations whilst being fully in control of the back of house infrastructure and commercial planning criteria – two very different types of knowledge that must come together in a unique way on every single project.
If we look more closely at the so-called ‘glitzy mall’, and define that as something based on creating bright, clean, clear and attractive spaces with units for high-end and aspirational brands, there’s an interesting pattern that emerges – with today’s glitz often becoming tomorrow’s ‘so what’ average.
In practice, it’s intelligent and anticipatory design that offers the solution for sustained shopper appeal and so the burden of responsibility rests with designers to keep re-inventing retail space for the next generation and the next set of customer expectations aligned to the context – where, when and catering for whom.
‘Glitzy’ is ever evolving and copying a successful customer experience from one location and replicating it in another may win you short-term impact, but the more sophisticated strategy is to anticipate and to re-imagine the retail experience specific to its context in order to sustain that freshness and vitality that matters.
Azure project wins SE Asia Property Award
Azure Urban Resort Residences, designed by the practice, has won the ‘Best Condo Development’ (Philippines) category at the SE Asia Property Awards 2014
The awards are the most prestigious industry accolades in the SE Asia region and recognise the best developers, developments and designers across the region, with the 2014 ceremony held at The Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
When complete, Azure will set a new benchmark for 21st century tropical living, with a series of towers across a six hectare site, each designed to optimise natural ventilation, light and shade. Azure will also feature resort-themed amenities including a beach, beach bar, lap pool and waterfall.
Meanwhile, CIBIS Tower 9 at CIBIS Business Park, masterplanned and designed by the team for client PT. Bhumyamca Sekawan, was also highly commended in two categories – Best Green Development and Best Commercial Development (Indonesia).
CIBIS Business Park (pictured) will cover a 11.7 hectare site and include a cluster of tall buildings and a business hotel with conference, leisure facilities and retail uses. The design will focus on a central square theme, inspired by the Javenese planning concept of the ‘alun alun’, the traditional town square and heart of civic activity.
Chile tops annual retail index
For the first time ever, Chile has topped the annual Global Retail Development Index, published by leading global management consulting firm A.K Kearney
By Director Jorge Ponce
The annual study identifies the most successful markets and those that offer the most potential for the future, and ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail expansion worldwide, based on a detailed analysis of 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables.
Retail in Chile is huge and recent economic and political stability have resulted in a growing middle-class and consumer demand for the same goods and services enjoyed by those in the so-called ‘developed world’.
Chile has gone on to build one of South America’s most sophisticated retail environments, resulting in major investments in new and existing malls, international retailers entering the market and local operators expanding their businesses.
As architects and designers working in a society where retail is so important, and with people increasingly wanting to eat and drink in retail-anchored destinations, our objective is to create high-quality environments which include a range of retail, leisure and entertainment uses – and ultimately sociable environments which enhance consumers’ experience.
The report reinforces the strength of retail in Chile and confirms that our design work will be shaped by the demands of an increasingly mature and forward-thinking sector.
Two UK schemes shortlisted in LABC Awards
‘The Tower’ in London and Mann Island in Liverpool, both designed by the practice, were shortlisted in the 2014 Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards
‘The Tower, One St George Wharf’ (pictured) featured in the ‘Best High-Volume New Housing Development’ category, while Mann Island was in the ‘Best Large Commercial Building’ category – following the completion of the schemes in 2014 and with both having been previously announced as regional-level award winners.
The Awards aim to ‘celebrate all that’s good in the construction industry’ and focus on the ‘vital elements in the creation of excellent buildings; technical innovation, sustainability and high performance’.
Both projects were nominated by LABC surveyors, with the LABC organisation representing building control teams in England and Wales, and its members responsible for ensuring that buildings are ‘safe, healthy and efficient’ and meet the standards set by UK building regulations.
English planning policy hampers house building
The UK government has taken steps to enhance protections against development on green belt land, with new rules aimed at ensuring there is a ‘stronger defence’ against urban sprawl
By Director of Masterplanning Jeff Nottage
Much has changed since 1947, when green belt regulations were introduced in England through the Town and Country Planning Act. Today, we’re facing a housing crisis and there’s a political consensus that we need to build more new homes, and quickly, as demand for quality, affordable homes surges across the country – but, we need the space to do it.
Green belt policies still serve an important purpose in protecting our towns and cities against urban sprawl and saving us from American-style ribbon development. But, in general, there’s a misperception that all green belt land is attractive, accessible and ecologically rich.
It’s probably more accurate to think of the green belt as a spectrum: ranging from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as the highest quality green belt land, through to relatively unremarkable areas of farmland and paddocks, which lay adjacent to urban areas. The issue with the current broad categorisation is that, in some cases, lower-grade land labelled as green belt constrains necessary development and new house building.
Ahead of the May 2015 general election, we need a frank and open discussion on how we can sensitively free-up much needed green belt land for development. There’s now a strong argument for redefining green belt land to ensure it continues to protect our valuable countryside, but also allows us to build the homes and infrastructure we need in sensible and sustainable locations.
Perhaps we need to introduce a range of new sub-categories based on land quality and function and assign these an appropriate level of regulation. Or perhaps we should think about reshaping green belts by building on less sensitive parts, while surrounding and protecting them through green gaps and wedges.