First Base’s new head of design, Daniel May discusses the star architects working on Silvertown Quays, future projects and the importance of small practices
How does First Base’s approach to architecture differ from other developers?
We take a site by site approach to our projects, carefully considering the history, local context, population, the local aspiration and what the area needs and wants. We place a huge emphasis on our architects to be able to design from the inside to out. The spatial quality of the spaces that we deliver is paramount and shouldn’t be dictated by the external constraints.
This focus on design is an obsession for us from conception to completion - and beyond in to the management; always making sure that how the spaces will be used is at the forefront of our thinking.
What projects are you working on currently?
We are working on a mix of projects across London and the South East. Our largest project at present is Silvertown in the Royal Docks and we have AHMM, Fletcher Priest, Benoy, West 8 and Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios and we have assembled a world class design panel for the future buildings and spaces including RSHP, OMA and Herzog & de Meuron, Adjaye Associates, Chipperfield and Meccanoo. We also have a number of schemes where we have collaborated with practices such as AFK on our Bermondsey project and Conran & Partners on our Brighton project.
What’s next on the horizon and which architects would you like to work with?
We are looking at a number of exciting opportunities across London and the south east and have been exploring these with practices such as dRMM and Buckley Gray Yeoman. It is important that architects can demonstrate a diverse portfolio of quality built work, such as retail, workspace and cultural, to bring to life the mixed use schemes that we deliver.
Will there be opportunities for smaller architectural practices to win work?
I’ve spent the last six months meeting a number of practices, including Gort Scott, Studio RHE and Design Haus Liberty. I am conscious that some of the most interesting ideas can be generated from smaller practices that have embarked on self-initiated research. We are intending to undertake some research sessions of our own throughout the year and will be inviting smaller practices to contribute to these.
What other mixed-use schemes have you been impressed by?
The development at Kings Cross shares many of the core ambitions of Silvertown, creating a new, diverse and thriving piece of city. Further afield, I am impressed by the Timmerhuis complex in Rotterdam, by OMA. This is the next generation of multiple-use buildings and it will be interesting to see how this translates in to the UK.
Source: King’s Cross