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New Practices #29: a:b:i:r

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

a:b:i:r architects, Brighton, East Sussex

Founded: April 2009

Main people: Simon Atkins, Olli Blair, Giles Ings, Matthew Richardson

Where have you come from? We worked together at a local practice, DRP Architects (now wound-up) for around 10 years, where we were directors. It became clear our aspirations didn’t match those of our other directors, [so] we decided to form our new practice. Initially just the four of us, we now have five staff.

What work do you have? A good mix of work across several sectors: affordable housing (flats in Clapham), private residential, primary care resource centre (in Polegate), beach huts (in Boscombe with designer Peter Francis Lewis ), and community and listed buildings. 

Some of our projects have come across with us, some are new instructions from retained clients and some are new contacts. We want to continue and expand this client base whilst also entering carefully selected competitions

What are your ambitions? We want to stay relatively small, and stay in Hove. We are close to local consultants, other architects, clients and the sea. We are currently in the process of buying a larger office, which we hope to be in by the end of July.

We’ve set up the practice to deliver high quality, sustainable design and this is what we want to become known for – from staff through to clients. We run an open plan studio where discussion and collaboration is encouraged. In the next month we will vote on the destination for our annual architectural trip 2010 – we went to Prague last year – which involves us each putting forward a proposal in a 3 minute presentation with a vote at the end.

How optimistic are you? We have already secured two-thirds of our required turnover for 2010 in the first month. But we are not complacent, and this is tempered by what we see in the wider industry. It looks like 2010 will remain uncertain, especially in light of the election. We still don’t know how or when cuts are coming and whether it will lead to a double-dip recession. We feel well-placed to ride it out if it does come to that.

Contact: www.abirarchitects.co.uk

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