As James transforms a brief into a design, his biggest thrill comes in building strong relationships with clients.
He specialises in research and development projects, including advanced engineering and designing high tech buildings for universities, as well as the build-to-rent sector. From masterplanning to completion, James is involved at every stage of a project.
What are the key challenges facing architecture?
Currently, it is the need to utilise technological advances and lead the world with how we use them. As a company, we’ve been using BIM for many years, but a lot of other technology has stemmed from that and we need to ensure we keep up.
Knowing what the client wants is key to our work, so the visual information created by these technologies can be very useful. 3D information helps us build stronger relationships with our clients because it visualises our ideas. Going forward, being aware of new advances as they approach is vital.
What is your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
Burges Salmon, a solicitor’s office in the centre of Bristol, was the first project where I was really involved in the delivery of a big, complex project on site. It was complicated and went on about six years, but it set me up for understanding how everything fits together and how a team can produce a great outcome.
Filwood Green Business Park was a unique process. The local community were involved right the way through and we had a lot of meetings with many different user groups. A group of locals set up their own furniture making business and their furniture was actually used in the building’s interior. They are still based in Filwood as Bristol Maker Lab, and it was great to work alongside them and assure the community’s ownership of the scheme.
Do you have a favourite building?
The Barbican in London. Part of my ongoing obsession with concrete and this is probably one of the only completed buildings of a scale in the UK that explores some of the mixed use dreams of Archigram. Brutalist buildings like that are becoming fashionable again; it’s an uncompromising vision, unconcerned about looking pretty or comfortable but its apartments are hugely popular and sought after.
What is the best book you’ve read?
High Rise by J G Ballard. It’s about a tower block in the 1970s that descends into chaos. An architect lives at the top of the building, surveys what’s going on and writes about the drama unfolding below. It reminded me of my work at university, taking architecture as the setting in which actions unfold.