At the same time, our new venture, under the name of UDS Properties One Ltd, had found an interesting project at 14 Backfields Lane and our offer to buy was accepted by the owners. Notwithstanding an extended period securing the funding, we got the project on site with the excellent Terry Harris as builder. Other commitments meant that Terry had to depart for another project, and we projected managed the later stages aided by Nick Chichester and a range of seriously good trades people, to whom we owe a big thank you!
Becoming increasingly enthusiastic about our small project, we decided to hang on to it and pooled our pensions to set up a pension fund to buy half of the building, with Bill’s practice, 4D Landscape, and Askew Architects taking the top floor studios.
Since then we have been joined by designers Playnicely and Thoughtden -a great bunch of really talented people. It is a lovely place to work and we really enjoy the happy atmosphere of the studios.
Last year the occasional commitment at Birmingham City University became more regular when I was appointed as acting part time Course Director at the University for the duration of Ruth’s term of office, although seeing the effect of government education cutbacks first hand has been a sobering experience. Still the course is running well, aided by some very good speakers, and I am pleased to say that my first tranche of students achieved a very good success rate with fifteen passes out of sixteen and two commendations.
This year things continue with projects including extensions and alterations to several houses in Bristol and a substantial house extension and renovation near Frome, which is to have strong eco credentials.
Other work has included a technical review of a major higher education scheme in Exeter for a contractor bidding for the project. This BREEAM excellent building is to be built on a steeply sloping site under a gridshell roof -there were significant issues to be resolved in constructing the building, although sadly our contractor client was unsuccessful in their bid.
2009 was undoubtedly the busiest year of my life, combining all this with all the paraphenalia of managing a small business, and I am pleased to have been joined by Ane Mateos and Sophie Jarzebowski.
We are keen to retain a varied workload, and to use collaborations with the many excellent architects with whom I have an ongoing relationship to deliver this. I am similarly determined that sustainability and technical rigour underpins the work of the practice.