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First person: Accommodating both the past and future breeds success

It’s no secret it’s been a tough environment for architects over the past few years.

Not only have lots of projects been mothballed, but so many of those that have gone ahead have been value-engineered to within an inch of their life.

As professionals, it’s part of our job to develop a design and specification that answers the project’s needs. At the same time, responding with positive suggestions to the client’s budgetary constraints is also an inherent part of our remit.

Skills and experience

For Cassidy + Ashton, our specialist skills and track record in the heritage sector have protected us from many of the compromises that some of our peers have had to make.

It’s a sector where budgets remain tight and projects can be just as precarious as those in the commercial world.

However, there is a very significant difference: our role is just as much about protecting the built environment as it is about developing it.

Founded 1960

Location Based in North-west

Specialism Architecture

Turnover £2.8m

A prime example of this is the £7m project we designed at Bolton School, one of the UK’s leading independent day schools.

The existing school is a listed neo-gothic structure with a red sandstone façade, so when we came to design a new sixth form centre, there could be no compromise on materials.

“For Cassidy + Ashton, our specialist skills and track record in the heritage sector have protected us from many of the compromises that some of our peers have had to make”

The synergy between the traditional structure that meets the contemporary new build on either side relies heavily on the use of colour-matched red sandstone.

Delivering designs that are both sympathetic to the original and provide practical, sustainable environments that look to the future is also one of the practice’s key strengths, and that’s true across our business for both heritage and new-build projects.

Co-operation imperative

In a post-recession, sustainability-focused age, architects have to be more pragmatic and our continued success is based around an approach that champions design aesthetics – but never to the detriment of buildability or functionality.

To achieve that, we believe close co-operation is required across the delivery chain, including the client, contractor, consultants and architect.

That’s why we’re embracing building information modelling. Investment in BIM software is a major expense, but we see that cost as a significant investment in the business and in developing a collaborative culture that will benefit us, our clients and our projects.

Lawrence McBurney is associate director at Cassidy + Ashton

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