Having led many office and hotel projects, John is an expert in commercial developments and relishes in delivering buildings that meet the evolving needs of its people.
As a board director, John’s responsibilities are wide ranging, but his most important role is leading our mixed-use commercial architecture.
John, what are the current issues facing commercial developments?
Mixed use developments require a much wider range of expertise; each element has to function perfectly and mesh together to form a cohesive whole. Bringing together a team with expertise in everything from residential, hotels, student accommodation, office and retail, who we can appraise the most appropriate uses for a particular site, is critical to a successful development and very enjoyable to lead.
The ‘on demand’ world and agile working now means that the line between workplace and hospitality is blurring: offices are becoming more like coffee shops, and vice versa. The knock on effect is that occupiers are looking for greater flexibility and shorter leases, and developers are responding with lifestyle offerings, cafes in reception, and their own serviced office brands.
What is your favourite project to date?
It’s actually a series of projects that I worked on for VOSA, and has nothing to do with the architecture but everything to do with the people. VOSA set up a national partnering framework for consultants and contractor, leading to the same team completing ten projects across the UK, from Bristol to Aberdeen.
It was a really collaborative team, a diverse group of people all looking out for each other, pulling in the same direction and coming up with the best solutions. We were also able to feedback from one project to the next, improving and refining, so that each project became more efficient and cost effective. The team won the Constructing Excellence national ‘Integration & Collaboration’ Award.
What’s the greatest invention ever?
It hasn’t actually been invented yet, but the Infinite Probability Drive from ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ would be revolutionary. People could live and work anywhere, and experts could be available wherever they were needed. We would probably need a Babel fish as well, so that we could all understand each other.
If it has to be an invention that actually exists, I would go for the wheel. Without wheels almost everything that is useful wouldn’t exist.
What is your favourite building?
Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut chapel at Ronchamp. I still have the slides and sketch books from my month spent travelling around Europe looking at buildings when I was a student. The day I spent drawing and photographing this building sticks vividly in my mind. This small, seemingly simple building, is still my favourite of all time. The simplicity of materials and the complexity of the geometry create something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
- Member of the British Council for Offices (BCO)
- Member of the Environment Sustainability and Governance Group at the BCO
- Five years spent as a judge for the BCO Awards
- Three years spent as Chairman of the BCO
- VOSA Bristol won a BCO Regional Award