BUILD - Architecture Awards 2017

56 Build 2017 Architecture Awards ince being founded in 2009 by Jane Leach, iarchitect has catered for a wide variety of client types, ranging from private homeowners, community groups and charities, to commercial clients, particularly in the leisure sector. These clients share a respect and care for the environment and want designs which function beautifully, are energy efficient and sensitive to their local context. Always looking to improve and work on its skills, the firm has adapted willingly to challenging projects. Being proactive means that unexpected challenges are not necessarily a problem for the firm, as Jane notes when discussing the firm’s latest project. “As a company, we have had many challenging projects and are continually working to improve our skills, knowledge and services to adapt to and manage these. As we mainly work with existing buildings, refurbishing, converting and extending these, many unexpected challenges arise so we work in as proactive a way as we can to overcome potential risks.” “A recent and ongoing project, which we are particularly proud of is a contemporary house extension in the Lancashire Green Belt, north of Manchester. This project is an extension to a traditional stone built 17th century Lancashire long farmhouse, using a breathable and low energy timber frame structure. This project was delivered in collaboration with a specialist heritage surveyor. The aim was to protect and conserve the traditional property, while delivering a modern family home. Balancing needs for architectural conservation and energy efficiency is always challenging but we find can also be a source of inspiration.” Procedures are important when approaching a new project and the firm works together with the client to assess their needs, as it often works with clients working on their first construction project. A detailed process is put in place in order to understand the underlying needs of the client, which Jane explains below. “When working on a project we always start with analysing our clients’ needs. We often work with clients who are embarking on their first construction project and meeting an architect for the first time, so it is very rare that we are presented with a defined architectural brief. We delve as deeply as possible into the why of the project. By understanding the underlying needs of our clients, we believe that we are better able to deliver projects which meet those needs and often find that this process uncovers requirements that our clients were also not conscious of. Also, key to our work is a strong understanding of the existing building, site and context. Where possible we aim to carry out early investigations so that results can be taken into account in the design work from the start.” Leading into the new technological generation, Jane believes that technology is not the ultimate tool for good design. The firm keeps up to date with new and developing technologies, and technology will only be used if it benefits the client and the firm. Jane states that the company prefers a more personal touch of interacting with the client face to face and showing them hand drawn designs wherever possible. “Technology is not the be all and end all to good design, and we are certainly not interested in technology for technologies sake. We keep up-to-date with new and developing technologies and seek ways to incorporate these tools within our work, when we know that they will be beneficial. Non-invasive investigative techniques such as thermal imaging, which can be used to identify defects and assess energy performance in existing buildings, drone cameras that allow us to build virtual models of less accessible structures so that they can be considered more holistically, can be useful. Ways to show clients how designs will look in 3D can help those clients who struggle to understand a 2D set of drawings, and different communications apps can help when working more remotely. However, we still like to work with pencil and paper and speak face to face with our clients to create our designs initially wherever possible.” Best Full-Service Architecture Firm – Manchester & Excellence Award for Conservation Services - North West England iarchitect is a bespoke design practice led by chartered architect, Jane Leach. We invited Jane Leach to tell us a bit more about the firm and the range of services it offers. Address: 160 Commonwealth Ave, Ste. L3, Boston, MA 02116 USA Phone: 001-617-266-1710 Website: AR170079 S