John Nordon is design director at retirement home developer Pegasus Life
John Nordon, PegasusLife
What projects are you working on?
We have around 35 projects on the go, from a nine-unit development in Sandbanks, Poole, to 113 units in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Every development is designed to be beautiful and invisible housing for older people. We don’t want to make care homes that are trying to look nice; we want to make beautiful housing with care facilities.
On what basis do you select architects to work with?
It’s a bit like asking ‘what music do you want to buy?’ – it depends on the occasion. We choose architects who can respond to certain areas. We wouldn’t employ anyone south of the border to work in Scotland, for example. We wouldn’t work with people who do the same thing every time. We want architects with the sensibility to understand a home as opposed to housing.
How do you pay architects?
We have a unique fixed-fee system. Every architect we approach is given the same deal, a fee calculated as a percentage of the construction cost. The system is based on repeat work, and the architect being exclusive to us in the sector.
What are the advantages of this system?
It’s about quality not price, and makes everyone really motivated because they know they are valued for their design. It relieves economic uncertainty as it’s a pipeline of work and we will keep pushing work through their business. We can build our respective businesses around one another and grow together. Architects don’t have to waste time doing what they’re bad at – negotiating fees! When I was an architect I used to get such inertia at the thought.
So why did you switch from architecture to development?
I got bored of designing buildings on sites I’d never go to for clients I’d never meet. I wanted to make lives better, and you can only make life and society better by meeting the client. I now have greater control of the quality of architecture and of development, and I’m probably designing now more than I ever have.