Property Week Winner 2020 Developer of the Year

Buildings are about people, not just bricks and mortar – David Campbell article in BE News

Comment piece by our Managing Director in BE News

Every building should actively and positively contribute to the community, history and culture of its surroundings.

Buildings are the living, breathing fabric of the urban environment in which the majority of us live. The grain of the urban landscape has evolved over centuries, reflecting the history, traditions and cultures that have gone before.

This gives each city its individual personality, creating a unique character and ambience that determines its specific living and working environment. No city is like any other, and that is why our urban environments provide such a rich, exciting and exhilarating canvas.

As modern developers, we have a duty and responsibility to ensure that we respect and make a positive contribution to each city – and town – we build in. This is why each of our projects must be far more reaching and ambitious than just functional bricks and mortar.

Set the brief

We must always look to raise the bar through carefully thought through and inspirational design, both outside and inside. We should actively choose materials and processes that minimise environmental impact, to ensure our long-lasting legacy and to lead by example. We must continually strive to use the latest innovations, so we can offer more in terms of facilities both to the occupants of our buildings, and to the communities within which our buildings are located.

Our developments must clearly reflect that every town and city is unique and has its own story to tell. Rather than a homogenised building and brand, we should create diverse buildings that continue to offer more in terms of facilities, both to inhabitants and the existing community.

Build with soul

It is one thing to design a building that looks amazing, it is quite another to build one that works for the occupants and the people that run it. No development should simply be an exhibit and have no soul. Our buildings must live and breathe, allowing people to move around and do what they need to do without interruption or any complication.

As such, developers should gain a deep understanding of the communities, history and culture of locations of their buildings. Only then can they ensure they embody the spirit of their surroundings and ensure a successful project.

Our student developments incorporate the works of local artists both inside and within the surrounding public realm, and by doing so, each building celebrates and supports them and creates a sense of place. We use local historic materials so that even the most original and striking architecture pays homage to the past, while looking to the future.

We also aim to creatively and intelligently tell the backstories of key moments in the site’s past and local history, through interior features, etching poems into external fabric, or through sculpture in the public realm. We develop projects that regenerate and breathe new life into, what is most often, a run down, derelict and neglected piece of land located in areas in transition.

Put people first

Ultimately, buildings should be all about people. That’s why our work as developers, architects, constructors and makers should be underlined through deep engagement with local communities to ensure they are at the forefront of our thinking and benefit directly from each project.

We should also seek to provide a good blend of rents and budgets. Yes, we need to make our developments a commercial success. But this directly depends on delivering a level of access for as many diverse groups as possible.

Without the people to stimulate use and interaction, our buildings fail. They only flourish when used to their maximum potential and for many years to come.

Let this be our blueprint for 2023 and beyond.

Buildings are the living, breathing fabric of the urban environment in which the majority of us live.