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What are your resolutions for 2018?

What are your resolutions for 2018?

04 January 2018

It’s New Year’s resolutions time, but apart from dry Januarys and impulsive fitness regimes, what are architects and Chartered Practices planning to do to raise their professional game in 2018? We invited some of the speakers and delegates at last November’s RIBA Guerrilla Tactics (‘The Power of Small’) to share what ideas they took away from the event for their own practice.

Will Mawson, director and co-founder of MawsonKerr, recently named as one of the RIBA’s Role Model Practices, was struck by the idea of giving staff more ‘ownership’ of the practice, as Annabelle Tugby, founder of Cheshire-based Annabelle Tugby Architects, had successfully done.

‘There were a lot of great takeaway points from Guerrilla Tactics, so much so that we’ve jumped the gun and implemented a couple already. Last week we started a monthly breakfast where all the finances of the company are shared with staff. I’m feeling (marginally) less stressed already’, Mawson reports.

Tugby in turn recalls that she was fired up by Sarah Castle of IF_DO and her inspiring example of moving into new sectors of work while landing larger or more commercial projects.

‘She very cleverly described how they had 'curated their website' with the addition of a clear and simple manifesto and bulking up finished works with unbuilt work, and then turned combinations of these into selections that supported successful new sector bids’, says Tugby.

‘So my new year’s resolution for 2018 is to be more active in our approach to obtaining new work, to more consciously procure our portfolio rather than merely accept or decline incoming offers, and to go after new sectors of work with larger projects.’

The £2m Sunbeams Music Centre in Penrith, Cumbria, for a music therapy charity has been gaining attention and awards for Will Mawson’s practice MawsonKerr. Photo © Simon Kennedy.

Curating their website is also top of the list of things to do for Mark Darnell, founder of UNFOLD Architecture + Design:

‘I aim to invest in refining and curating output on social media and content on the practice website. Not only will this ensure the practice is perceived as intended, it will also focus my mind in terms of new projects undertaken, the work produced and events attended – every activity counts.’

‘Another piece of advice from [financial management consultant] Michael Holmes I took away from the event and which I have already put into action is creating a cash flow forecast. I will be continuing this into the new year and beyond – accounts, not the most exciting subject I know, but one that is proving incredibly useful.’

Jonathan Williams, newly-qualified architect at Kent Design Partnership, was inspired by Tomas Millar (Millar Howard Workshop) and his insights about delivering customer value.

‘Our New Year’s resolution will be to implement changes to our fee structures in 2018, starting with the introduction of a tiered itemised pricing structure’, he reports.

‘This transparency will give clients the opportunity to tailor our services to directly meet their individual needs, be a platform to promote to the wider world what architects can do, and dispel the common myths around architects being an expensive luxury by providing services to meet every budget.’

Millar himself has set himself the task of exploring ways that architects can engage with a wider public in their day-to-day work.

‘Much of the work of an architect is limited to a few relationships between clients and the rest of the consultant team and contractors. I am interested in how architects might be able to change the way they work to engage a wider audience in their design thinking.’

Millar says he will be trying to publish a 3D model to Sketchfab every Friday – check whether he keeps it up.

‘I also want to start a YouTube channel, but that might be a bit more ambitious’, he adds.

The takeaway from Guerrilla Tactics that resonated most with Alasdair Ben Dixon, founding partner at Collective Works, was the idea that 'small is a place where new is born'.

‘We are really inspired to keep prototyping new ideas alongside our current projects. As a New Year’s resolution we also want to spend more time getting feedback and reviews from our clients and making sure we do something with this. As an agile small practice we can adapt quickly both in terms of products and services!’.

Meanwhile David Ayre, Director and co-founder of Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt, which now has offices in Hampshire and London, is planning to tackle one of those tasks that tends to reside permanently on practices priority list – Quality Management.

‘On a par with cleaning the car, emptying the dishwasher or doing the ironing, Quality Management (and in its formal ISO 9001 identity) is becoming an ever-important beast which our practice must tame’, pledges Ayre.

‘We were fortunate to grow significantly during 2017 and so the need to update our internal procedures to encourage consistency and quality is vital for future success. In fact, we should no longer be perceiving ISO accreditation as a chore – something to just get through – but an opportunity to drill down into our work flow and challenge historic ways of doing things.

‘If there was one theme gleaned from this year’s Guerrilla Tactics it was that small practices should take advantage of their agility and embrace change.’

Thanks to Will Mawson, director and co-founder, MawsonKerr; Annabelle Tugby, founder, Annabelle Tugby Architects; Mark Darnell, founder, UNFOLD Architecture + Design; Jonathan Williams, architect, Kent Design Partnership; Tomas Millar, director, Millar + Howard Workshop; Alasdair Ben Dixon, founding partner, Collective Works; David Ayre, Director and co-founder, Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt.

Text by Neal Morris. This is a ‘Practice News’ post edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas.

Posted on 4 January 2018

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