The latest in a series of practice profiles looking at architects who have recently decided to go it alone, either through choice or redundancy
Pattern Design, London EC1
Founded: Early 2010
Main people: Dipesh Patel, Andrea Cunsolo, Lindsay Johnston and Michael Lowe (consultant).
Where have you come from? Dipesh worked for Cambridge Design and Denys Lasdun and was at Arup Associates from 1992-2009; Andrea was at Massimiliano Fuksas, Rome and PA Studios, Boston and Arup Associates in the UK; Lindsay was at Terry Farrell, Arup Associates and RMJM; Michael retired from Arup Associates in 2005 then worked as a consultant until 2009. One of the original CABE Review panel members. Dipesh and Lindsay worked together on global sports projects including The City of Manchester Stadium and Kensington Oval, Barbados.
What work do you have? Our objective is to create designs that achieve a balance between man-made structures and the natural world. We are interested in projects that enhance the user experience by addressing wellbeing and visual harmony. The idea of patterns is employed to analyse all aspects of a project; urban design, city context, geometry, people and traffic flows, local culture and natural order.
We are a generalist architecture practice. However we are starting off by focussing on Sport and Education. Our current workload is dominated by the sports sector: a confidential stadium project in the UAE (pictured), Cambridge United FC, a confidential UK club stadium and a proposal for Bath Rugby with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.
We have two significant one-off houses; one on a spectacular wooded site for a private client in the UK and another beach house in the Caribbean. We are keen to engage with the broader housing debate.
What are your ambitions?
Our ambition is to be a medium sized practice, circa 20, known for buildings that are both forward lookingand timeless. We would also like to always be thought of as a practice that can address most typesand sizes of project. All of us admire the small studio models of Renzo Piano or Alvaro Siza.
Collaboration is central to our current work and in the future we hope it will enable us to work on majorscale developments. We are based in London and this will always be our main base; we have a longer term aim of smaller studios in Bath and Edinburgh.
How optimistic are you?
Starting generates its own optimism and this lasts for about six months! In these early months of starting we were almost naively optimistic. The main challenge is to secure long-term commitment from clients. Most appointments are staged and can unexpectedly stop; the Middle East has been difficult. Our fear is that next year will be hard and it will be 2012 before there is real progress.
Advice has comes from many places; colleagues, other practices (architectural, engineering quantity surveying and project management and non-design professions) and former tutors. Our PI insurance brokers and accountants have been very helpful with the practical issues of starting and running a new
The main benefit for small firms in a recession is that clients have more time and there is less urgency to make decisions. That seems to make them look at a new small firm whereas in a boom they hire who they know or an established practice almost automatically. Our aim is to over deliver; a small firm
can afford to give clients and projects more time and senior staff attention. Some clients have raised our size and ‘new’ status as an issue; but the vast majority have been hugely supportive and willing us to succeed.