Katie Tonkinson of Hawkins\Brown on the AJ100 practice’s new Manchester outpost and why it is on the hunt for local talent
Studio North forms a major part of Hawkins\Brown’s growth strategy, helping us to nurture local talent in an exciting city that has always had a strong architectural community, as well as offering prospects outside of London for some of our existing staff.
I’m originally from Manchester, and it’s exciting to see so many opportunities emerging in the city I grew up in, as well as wider initiatives such as the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
We found that we were losing out on some projects because we didn’t have a studio outside London. A Manchester base is also helping nurture our relationships with The University of Manchester and our website designer and collaborator The Neighborhood, and with ongoing northern projects such as Park Hill and the Urban Science Building for Newcastle University.
As well as serving current clients, we will be looking at new projects in the region, across sectors that play to our strengths: infrastructure, higher education, schools, residential and mixed-use schemes.
Rather than rushing to find a space for Studio North, we decided to first put down our roots with long-time collaborator Arup in its Piccadilly Place office. We already share a workspace with it in London for Crossrail so it’s a good fit.
We are still looking for a permanent home, and are keen to have a strong visual presence in the city, whether that is a shop-front studio that’s ready to move in to or a shared workspace.
I am now permanently based in Manchester as head of the new office, leading a small team, though a recruitment drive is under way.
Through the regular presence of established partners working alongside new local faces, we are committed to transferring Hawkins\Brown’s culture, values, vision and design ethos.