New architecture practice launched with focus on affordable housing
Former colleagues with experience of leading successful affordable housing projects have teamed up to form a new architecture practice in Edinburgh.
Architect and managing director Stuart Bishop has officially launched SB Architects, a team comprised of a very experienced group including ex-colleagues some of whom have been impacted by the coronavirus.
As former architecture director at Barton Willmore, Mr Bishop successfully led the delivery of large-scale award-winning mixed tenure residential regeneration projects such as Pennywell in Edinburgh and Muirton Park in Perth and alongside clients such as Urban Union, City of Edinburgh Council, Robertson Partnership Homes and Caledonia Housing Association.
Mr Bishop said: “The COVID pandemic’s impact on the economy has been unprecedented and it has hit many in the construction industry hard, myself included. I saw an opportunity to pull together a very experienced team, some of whom like me have experienced difficulties during the pandemic.
“Being able to work with ex-colleagues is fantastic; we all know each other’s strengths and capabilities so we are already very efficient as a team. Similarly, our clients know most if not all of the team members so we are benefitting from well-established working relationships from day one.”
Having been involved in the delivery of over 2,500 new homes over a six-year period, Stuart sees the continuing growth in the housing market, and particularly affordable housing, as a key element to the post-pandemic economic recovery in Scotland and in turn for the future growth of the new business.
He added: “There’s no doubt that over the coming years, affordable housing will play a significant role in the economic recovery and it is heartening to see further funding commitments in the upcoming Scottish Budget for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme. This will give a much-needed boost to local authorities, housing associations and the construction sector and we intend to play a significant part in that growth.”
With a number of commissions already in the pipeline, including with C & S Partnership Homes, part of the C & S Group, the team are looking to take advantage of the strong housing market.
Steven Anderson, development director at C & S Partnership Homes, said he also sees the continuing potential in affordable housing over the coming years.
He said: “Our new affordable housing arm has ambitious aims to deliver housing for our key RSL clients. We have worked alongside Stuart for a number of years and with the exceptional team that he has assembled, we know we are in good hands.”
SB Architects director Laura Bennett said the team recognise from their own experience of the pandemic that approaches to urban design and housing design, and in particular affordable housing, must evolve if they are to take advantage of some of the benefits that the pandemic has inadvertently produced, such as home working.
Ms Bennett added: “Much of the working population have seen the benefits for their lifestyle and wellbeing of flexible and partial home working. As a business we have embraced this, with our team benefitting from flexible home working and consultancy basis working, made possible with the use of cutting-edge digital communication. There is much to be said for continuing this flexibility post-pandemic, but if we are intent on making a societal shift, our approach to urban design and housing needs to adapt.
“Quality placemaking is a much-used phrase, but more than ever this is of prime importance to ensure communities have the amenity, infrastructure, character and quality to sustain a large percentage of home working population, post-pandemic. We need to foster community connections and design our streetscape and urban networks to rebalance the hierarchy between transient office commuters and a resident home working community.
“Exceptional digital infrastructure and future-proofing needs to be built in from day one, and high quality green open space needs to be a readily accessible necessity for everyone.”