A few words from our latest work experience student
I sat down on my first day of work experience, entirely unsure what to expect, having only ever worked in the inconsequential environment of the university studio, and I completed the experience with a new appreciation for the role of the architect. There were many aspects to the role which really became apparent outside of the academic environment.
The first, and perhaps most important, difference between the two settings is that the professional environment is set up to serve the needs of the client whereas the academic is more about your own personal aesthetic style and ideology. During my time at Rickett Architects I observed the importance of keeping people happy whilst also having to tell them something they may not wish to hear. I have developed a new level of appreciation for the patience of architects and how much of the profession is about interacting with clients.
The second eye opener for me was the reality of what is actually simple to construct. Whilst at university we are encouraged to be creative and come up with interesting and often complex designs. Some of these I believed would be fairly simple and inexpensive to construct but would, in reality, be complex and therefore expensive to build.
My time at Rickett Architects has also emphasised the importance of CAD and digital work which is not as well used in the studio environment. We are not taught what to do in the sense that we can present and create work in any format we wish; be that hand or computer drawn. This does not necessarily make sense and I personally feel there should be more time spent teaching students how to use the software available to them to create clear and concise work. However, I understand why this is not done as students may then become reliant upon and restricted by what they can get a computer to do rather than fully exploring the possibilities of their ideas.
We are happy to introduce our new office video
At Rickett Architects we wanted to give everyone a little insight into our approach and motivation with key members of the team introducing what we do as a practice.
Althorpe Street Regeneration – Public Exhibition of Proposals
On Thursday 31st May Rickett Architects exhibited their proposals for the regeneration of the Althorpe Street area of South Leamington. This was held in the Conservatory of the Royal Leamington Pump Rooms and was very well attended with more than 121 local residents, businesses, councillors and interest groups attending.
The proposals, prepared on behalf of Althorpe Street Developments (a consortium of the site owners), will see the redevelopment of a number of run-down industrial premises to provide Grade ‘A’ studio and office accommodation with student accommodation above. The design will is one that is both physically and visually permeable to achieve a vibrant relationship between Althorpe Street and the canal-side – for the first time. In so doing, the development accords with many of Warwick District Council’s aspirations for this area of Leamington – including the development of a Creative Quarter, retention and enhancement of employment on the edge of the town centre and the provision of additional student facilities in a planned and managed form that will reduce pressure on established residential areas.
It is intended that the proposals will now be worked up into a full planning application that will be submitted in July to Warwick District Council.
There is no doubt that, historically, a “south of the river” stigma has been attached to the Althorpe Street area of Leamington Spa. While some would say this statement is right, there are others who want nothing more than to enjoy the area they live in and residents have made attempts to improve the quality of their local area.
Unfortunately, the area has degenerated, there are low levels of employment and high levels of crime including drugs. The canal side is quiet and not considered a safe place to spend time. Security has been an issue, and this is not, at present, a family friendly area.
Currently the buildings at Althorpe Street are split into units which are being used for garage space and an art studio, but these businesses lack the security needed to ensure the safety of visitors.
With this in mind, Althorpe Street Developments Ltd. have created a mixed-use scheme that will regenerate and add vigilance and security to the area. We are a group of local residents with a strong desire to improve our town - to add value and alleviate certain stress points created by changing times.
We intend to create a higher “people” presence which has the positive effect of making the area safer. Employment on the ground floor of the buildings, which will include office and retail space, will populate a daytime presence while accommodation above will do the same for the evenings and through the night.
The development will ‘activate’ canal life bringing energy and a vibrancy currently lacking in the area. The proposed buildings will add to public space making the development a valuable addition to the Leamington business and social scene. An economic driving force will inevitably bring with it a significant culture change for this part of Leamington. This can only serve to aid aspirations for new and established businesses to the area facilitating a wider regeneration of the canal side area.
The proposals will add value for the local community by opening up a space which is closed off by current elevations - an open public space to bring in the local community to a canal side culture. We are creating a community space available to all local residents with good pedestrian access. The development has been purposely designed with regeneration and employment in mind, this building will not only add economic value but also connect the canal to the street offering a unique proposition not seen anywhere else. We want the site to become an asset to the local community, bringing together business, social structure and culture to the area. We believe the development will enhance and add value to the canal side with a vibrant and energetic mix of people attracted to the area without loss of residential character.
The development will also use its proximity to the canal side as a way of radiating a positive culture through attraction of a diverse group of people into an area of Leamington which is rarely used.
The mixed-use development will also ease the pressure of students in the town. Our desire is to keep residential areas for local residents by providing accommodation for circa 270 people. This is consistent with the proposed new policy on Student Housing that is due to be considered by Warwick District Council on 31st May. This policy acknowledges the benefits that students bring to the town and seeks to encourage the provision of purpose-built accommodation of an appropriate type and quality in sustainable locations thereby encouraging students to move from HMO style accommodation and reducing the pressure on family housing and residential areas.
The design of the building is dynamic - the view will change depending on the time of day, light and weather. It is a reflection of the canal and will bring the canal to the street. Shadows will change, light will change adding fluidity and movement to a static structure. This proposed scheme is lighter than the current buildings. The physical elements of the proposed buildings add value at every step from the street/canal side perspective. All blocks have negative space activated from different perspectives adding to public usability and design aesthetic. In terms of size and scale (massing) the proposed development matches its surroundings - but with a unique and carefully considered design twist.
In conclusion, our desire is to turn an underused, undervalued area of Leamington Spa into a space that will be an important contribution to the local area. Our hope is to lead the way in attracting other developments to a high standard and quality that we would want for our town.
This is how the area looks now.
As a response to the impact of the increasingly complex planning system on development proposals, both large and small, Rickett Architects has established a bespoke Development Planning Service – led by Charles Robinson.
Charles has been in practice for over 35 years across a wide range of disciplines including directorships in national planning consultancies to commercial client-side/developer positions. He also remains active within the Royal Town Planning Institute and is a past Chair of the West Midlands Branch.
His particular expertise relates to development so he understands the pressures on clients in terms of the delivery of viable schemes. It is this expertise that makes Charles’ appointment such a good fit within the architectural team at Ricketts.
Welcoming Charles to the Practice Dan Rickett (Managing Director) noted, ‘As a dynamic team with a strong track record and ethos of delivering development Charles’ skills and contacts will be a superb fit to our other skill sets. He is already working with our teams on a wide range of projects from bespoke cutting edge residential schemes to major commercial buildings and large urban residential extensions.’
He is also working with the architectural teams to assess the implications of the new National Space Standards to ensure that Rickett Architects’ clients will be ready for these and ahead of the curve as they are continue to be adopted across the country.
If you would like to talk through any planning issues do get in touch.
"More breasts in architecture" Women in architectureRead More
Tennant Street, Birmingham. New loft style development.
Birmingham’s growth is continuing to accelerate rapidly which is why Rickett Architects are working closely with developers in Birmingham. Particularly on Tennant Street we have developed a residential scheme which looks to become an exciting opportunity for future investors.
The Project is currently underway as construction on site builds momentum.
Why Birmingham has become a city International developers are keeping an eye on!
Since spear heading the industrial revolution, Birmingham has always had a rich recipe of ingredients for a thriving economy. Today is no exception as Birmingham has more direct International investment projects than any other English region. Despite 8 years remaining till the due completion of HS2 commercial developers have seen the introduction of 17,473 start-ups in 2016 alone whilst the Residential developers seek to house a growing population of over 1.1million.
At Rickett Architects we want to help investors make the best commercial decisions for their projects whilst producing fresh designs to excite and sit in harmony with a city looking to become one of the most exciting places to live, work & invest in the UK.
If you are looking to invest in Birmingham, the youngest city in Europe then Rickett Architects, with our RIBA Architects, technicians & planners have the flexibility to produce cost effective schemes of all sizes.
Above & Beyond Surveying
Brand new to 2018 we’re introducing Aerial Photography to Rickett Architects. With High definition Photographs and HD Video footage we’ll be able to climb to new heights to capture images otherwise near impossible.
Aerial Site Survey
With a built in HD camera and the ability to fly 360 degrees we want to bring new dynamic images to clients and solve problems surrounding accurate site photographs and challenging surveys.
Whether hovering or flying over proposed sites ‘ Drones change the way we view the world, and how we view the world changes how we design it.’
- Fly’s 360 degrees up to 500m
- Takes Aerial Photographs in HD
- Takes HD Video footage [2.7k]
- Hovers and fly’s up to 30mph
- Controlled remotely by an operator
- Technically described as a UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle]
- Can fly continuously for approximately 15minutes
Words of wisdom from our extension specialist.....
Choosing where to extend depends very much on the individual property and garden. If the garden is small you might want to consider rearranging the existing internal space and possibly extending at the front or in a Victorian property doing a side return extension. You need to consider the position of neighbouring properties and the path of the sun through the day. Open plan is very popular but it is important to have some separation and quieter areas. If you have a larger garden, then it is still important to plan the layout carefully and maximise the use of space, rather than just build a huge extension.
A good architect or designer will be able to help you plan your kitchen layout, it is important an early stage to think about drainage, extraction, heating and electrics. Once a basic layout is agreed it is a good time to get a kitchen company involved. If there is space a pantry and utility can provide excellent storage, which means the kitchen design can be kept clean and simple without the need for wall cupboards. Islands are very popular but do require an enormous amount of circulation space, a peninsula is a good alternative. Islands and peninsula become social focal points, it is a good idea to avoid placing sinks or hobs in them. Open plan kitchen extensions often result in very deep rooms, roof lights, side windows and light reflective surfaces all help to maximise daylight.
Whatever design route you choose – design and builder or architect and contractor make sure you do your research. Recommendations and references are very important. Make sure you feel comfortable with and confident in the people who work with. A good builder will project manage for you, but it is important to make as many decisions as you can in advance – tiles, door handle, taps etc
The style of your extension will depend on many factors, start by researching extensions of similar properties and get an idea of the styles you like. There are lots of cladding options on the market now, which might provide a good contrast to your existing property or you may prefer the extension to blend in. If you want to build your extension under permitted development the materials must match those on the existing house. They may also be restrictions on materials if you are in a conservation area or own a listed building, your designer will be able to guide you.
Under permitted development you can extend single storey from the original back wall of the house 3m for a semi or terraced property or 4m for a detached. There are extended permitted development right in place until May 2019 which extends these distances to 6m and 8m but you do need to make a neighbourhood consultation application. With permitted development you need to match the materials on the existing property and the eaves of the extension must not be higher than 3m from ground level. Permitted development rules can be quite complicated and are restricted in certain areas, always get advice from design professional or planning officer. It is a good idea to apply for a certificate of lawful development for your extension even if it falls under Permitted development, when you sell your property in the future it will answer any conveyancing questions.
Build costs will vary across the country, your architect should be able to give you an idea of the costs, but nothing will be as accurate as a quote. Currently in Leamington Spa an extension will cost approx. £1700 per square metre plus VAT to a plastered finish, but that does not include things such as bi fold doors, roof lanterns or anything unusual or expensive. (March 2018)