New Practices #8: Oliver Houchell
The eighth in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone either through choice or redundancy
Founded: January 2009
Main person: Oliver Houchell
Where have you come from? I was a senior architect in Wilkinson Eyre Architect’s bridge team before taking voluntary redundancy in December 2008. I couldn’t envisage working for another practice, so I decided to jump into the void instead.
What work do you have? I’m working on a concept design for a pedestrian and cycle bridge in Lincolnshire. I’ve also joined a tender team to bid for the construction contract for a road, pedestrian and cycle bridge in the UK. It was one of my projects at Wilkinson Eyre: if the team wins the tender, I’ll be able to see the project completed. I also consult for a software reseller, helping develop their software-specific courses for architects.
What are your ambitions? I intend to set up a company or limited liability partnership with one or two peers when the time is right. I’d prefer to have a small practice with a flat hierarchy than become an employer and grow the practice beneath me.
How optimistic are you? I decided that I’d take on bridge projects, as they’d allow me to offer clients a competitive, professional service. It’s vital to assess where your strengths are and how you can provide clients with the best value for money. Keeping expenditure low and obtaining proper advice and protection in both accountancy and PII are also important.