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New Practices #74: K4 Architects

The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone either through choice or circumstance

K4 Architects, Warwick Bar, Birmingham 

Founded:  October 2010

Main people:  Bob Ghosh, co-director John Shakeshaft. Malwina Gruszecka and Martin Ball were the other two original members of the team. We’ve recently been joined by Stas Kubasiewicz

Where have you come from? Ghosh and Shakeshaft formed a practice in 2003 called Kinetic, which they closed last year. Before that Bob was at Glenn Howells Architects and John worked at Associated Architects.

What work do you have and what kind of projects are you looking for? We’ve loyal clients developed over a number of years, who have stuck with us through thick and thin. Other than this, we’ve won work through design competitions and competitive interview. We have just submitted plans for a 30-storey tower scheme on Birmingham’s former central fire station site (click here for more).

What are your ambitions? We’re interested in growing the practice, but only to a size which is comfortably manageable, say 25-30 people. We’ll always have a base in Birmingham, but as we work so frequently on international projects, it makes sense to establish satellite offices in London and the Far East. We’d like to continue to build on our reputation for original, engaging and effective design with commercial, aesthetic and functional appeal.

How optimistic are you as a start-up practice? Cautiously. We’ve landed a number of projects which are scheduled to start-on-site within the next 12 months. We also inherited a number of ‘live’ projects from Kinetic, which are approaching completion.  We have some very trusted advisers including our accountant and Bob’s dad, a retired lecturer in company law and businessman. As a business owner, I believe in the idea of ‘Who Dares Wins’, so fear doesn’t come into it. If things happen that are beyond our control, then we just need to be intelligent and adapt to changing situations.
The current Government will keep us in recession for a number of years, then announce economic growth just before the next election. Clients see the advantages of working with smaller practices – we are bold in our approach and generate the freshest ideas. However, some institutions are so risk-adverse, they always require the safety net of a larger, more established practice, even if the service is secondary and the fees are less competitive.


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