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Steve Sanham: 'We’re not going to build something crazy expensive because it looks cool'

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Steve Sanham, development director at HUB Residential, on why their design approach is based around simplicity and integrity

What is your role at HUB and where were you before that?
I am responsible for HUB’s pipeline of development projects, as well as overseeing the acquisition due diligence on new projects. I was previously project director responsible for several of the residential developments at Argent’s King’s Cross development, and prior to that I worked for Urban Splash in Manchester and Birmingham delivering Chimney Pot Park and various other bits.

What projects are you currently working on and which architects are involved?
We have five projects underway at the moment: Hoola in the Royal Docks, Victoria Square in North Acton, Material Store & Boiler House at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, Chesterfield House in Wembley, and a tiddler in Ealing called Walpole Court

Hoola was designed by CZWG and Johnson Naylor – a derelict site with a rather awkward consent on it when we started, we are now 8 months into the build with Carillion Construction, and will complete 360 apartments in two towers towards the end of 2016. All the apartments are for market sale. We’re pretty excited about that one.

Victoria Square, designed by Newground Architects, has been created to meet the acute demand in London for high quality purpose built Private Rented Sector (PRS) apartments. We’ve agonised over the design to get it right for the PRS market, and we think it’s looking pretty good. We’re three months into the build with Henry Construction and it’s looking good.

The Old Vinyl Factory has been reimagined by the team at Cathedral as a mixed-use estate of work space, shopping, leisure and residential. We’ll be delivering the first two phases of the residential with our partners Bridges Ventures. The first building is the Boiler House – 54 apartments in a beautifully designed stainless steel clad building designed by Studio Egret West. We’re going to build it out of wood. The Material Store has just gone in for planning for 183 apartments, and we’ve been working with Newground Architects on that one again, which has been great. Hoping to be on site with both in late summer.

Chesterfield House will be our second project in partnership with social impact investment fund Bridges Ventures. The property, currently c.30,000sq ft of office space with a retail podium, was purchased by the partnership in August 2014. The intention is to deliver a residential led mixed use scheme on the site, which will mark this prominent site on the corner of the High Road and Park Lane. We’re very excited to be working with Maccreanor Lavington on that scheme.

Walpole Court is an existing office building owned by HUB’s sister company Squarestone. Planning permission has been granted to convert the existing office building into a residential scheme of 28 apartments.

How important is design quality to HUB’s work and why?
Great design has always been at the heart of everything I’ve done and HUB is about beautifully designed homes for real people in London. HUB’s design approach is based around simplicity, and integrity. There are plenty of developers out there who manage to overcomplicate the design process by designing to a spreadsheet, and completely losing sight of the fundamental point of an apartment: as a place to live, stay warm and dry, stay safe, entertain people and be proud of. We spend time understanding the context, both physical and social, and deliver efficient, beautiful, homes.

What future opportunities will there be for architects and what advice would you give an architect seeking to work with you?
Lots I hope. Buying land in London is as challenging as ever, meaning that land is regularly bought for too much money and design is all too often compromised to cut costs. That’s the barrier at the moment. We are however looking at a number of opportunities to work with existing landowners to unlock value, and to acquire new more complex sites where we can unlock value by solving problems.

I’ll always be flattered by people wanting to work with us…Creativity with a practical side is best for us. We’re not going to build something crazy expensive just because it looks cool. If it generates enough value to make it real though we’ll always look at it. And If you’ve got a bit of land too that would help!

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