Q1 2023 Building A Sustainable Future Since its inception as a company, Plastiblok has been looking for new ways to improve building and construction as an industry. Thus, when it came up with the idea for Lok-N-Blok, it found a bold new way to do this, all based on the idea of simple solutions that can handle incredibly complex problems, earning it an award for being a ‘Leader in Sustainable Residential Construction’ in 2022 for Paducah, Kentucky. Indeed, its region has vastly benefitted from the innovations it has brought to bear, with all manner of construction companies taking advantage of the way its products simplify the workload of wall building, improving insulation in the process.
BUILD Q1 2023 2 Welcome to the Q1 issue of BUILD Magazine. As always, we endeavour to be your source for all the latest news and features from across the global construction and property industries. As we find ourselves in the new year, it may be cold and dark, but our award-winning construction businesses aren’t letting it dampen their spirits. The first month of the year is a thrilling one in construction, for it means 12 more months of exciting projects, collaborations, and innovations. And we are delighted to be shining a light on these businesses that are passionately taking the industry by storm, whether they be in architecture, construction management, lighting, solar energy, or interior design. One of these outstanding companies that can hardly wait for what the future will bring is our cover feature, Plastiblok, the innovator of Lok-N-Blok – the gamechanging building solution where Bloks stack together perfectly to enable superior structure strength in addition to sustainability. A disruptive product, we have no doubt that it will be making waves in 2023 as architects and builders seek new improved, eco-friendly ways to bring their construction projects to life. We hope you find this issue enjoyable and inspiring to read and that you have a great start to 2023. We at BUILD look forward to welcoming you back for our Q2 issue in the spring. Rebecca Scotland, Editor Website: www.build-review.com AI Global Media, Ltd. (AI) takes reasonable measures to ensure the quality of the information on this web site. However, AI will not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or completeness of any information that is available through this web site. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. The information available through the website and our partner publications is for your general information and use and is not intended to address any particular finance or investment requirements. In particular, the information does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us or any of our partner publications and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making or refraining from making any investment or financial decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named in the site is at your sole risk and responsibility.
Q1 2023 BUILD 3 4. News 6. Lok-N-Blok: Building A Sustainable Future 8. Ei Construcción: Best Cross-Border Industrial/Commercial Infrastructure Construction – USA-Mexico 10. Trusko Limited: Best Bespoke Construction Management Company 2022 - UK 12. Design Spec Ltd.: Architecture Firm of the Year 2023 - United Kingdom 13. Minimalism and the Loss of Identity 14. “What Happens Now is Nothing to do with Me” 16. LEDCONN: Best Bespoke LED Lighting Solutions Manufacturer 2022 & Best Completed LED Ceiling Installation 2022: Denton High School 17. ICE Solar: Solar PV Contractor of the Year - UK 18. Ashview Consultants: Putting Safety First 20. Home Republic Ltd: Sustainability For All 21. Nielsen House: Making Houses Into Homes 22. Wedgewood Homes: Most Innovative Real Estate Solutions Providers – Dallas & Best Real Estate Solutions Provider 2022 – Greater LA 24. Talford Realty International: Best Full-Service Real Estate Firm 2022 - South Carolina 25. Wyatt Management General Contractor: Commercial Construction Company Secures Success 26. Winners’ Listings Contents
BUILD Q1 2023 4 News alor Capital Doubles Down on Tampa Bay Luxury Real Estate. Demand in the luxury real estate market remains strong as affluent buyers see real estate as a solid investment during inflationary times. Rising interest rates have reduced the number of houses on the market as sellers opt to stick with their existing lower-interestrate loans. Valor Capital’s Moises Agami explains why the luxury real estate market remains strong. After months of heavy stock market declines, rapid inflation, and rising interest rates, it can be hard not to see doom and gloom on the horizon. Even as average national real estate prices are 13% higher year-to-year, some economists cite the sharp drop in transaction numbers over the past 12 months and reduced construction spending since August as evidence the housing market is in trouble. Moises Agami and Valor Capital are holding tight to historical trends and current realities. The luxury real estate market in Tampa Bay is weathering the storm. While many macroeconomic factors are concerning, real estate performs differently according to location and asset class. For example, while real estate prices across the nation rose 13% last year on average, in Tampa and Miami, that increase was 28% (continuing the Florida real estate explosion), and Charlotte, North Carolina, saw a 21% rise. Some observers are saying that the reduced number of property transactions represents a lack of demand. Still, a closer look reveals that rising interest rates and other economic factors are contributing to diminished supply. “The slowdown in trade speaks to SUPPLY rather than demand,” says Valor Capital’s Moises Agami. Rising interest rates and limited inventory deter homeowners from selling if they can avoid it. Prices are higher, and their current mortgage is likely locked in at a lower rate than they can get today. It makes sense to stay rather than sell and find a new home, and some sellers have taken their properties off the market, thereby reducing inventory. This is particularly true in the luxury housing market and families with a primary residence valued at $10 million or more. Realtors in the Hamptons and New York City see ultra-luxury buyers waiting patiently as inventory is low. Fewer homes are purchased because there are fewer for sale. Valor Capital’s luxury condominiums in Clearwater, Florida, are selling at the highest and second highest price per square foot in Pinellas County on the Gulf Coast of Florida. While Luxury Real Estate May Be This Economy’s Best Investment V Valor Capital sees fewer showings, absorption of their luxury condominium designs remains high. Agami says, “A thorough evaluation of the present time, as well as our history in the past few decades, points to the fact that interest rates will rise and likely settle down around our historical average of 7%.” Moises Agami goes on to say, “There is no real estate crisis. There is an inflationary crisis, which means all goods, services, and assets are going up in value. When investors and consumers realize this, they invest heavily in real estate to protect their money from the depreciation caused by inflation.” Moises Agami’s background prepared him with valuable lessons for counteracting the effects of inflation and supply issues. He says, “I have a background in supplying vehicles and parts to dealerships and manufacturers around the world — a very rigorous process where cars always have to arrive just in time. The supply chain had to be impeccable ALL THE
5 Q1 2023 BUILD With the exclusive Lookbook, MSI introduces its Top 5 Design Trends for 2023. M S International, Inc. (MSI), the leading supplier of flooring, countertops, wall tile, and hardscaping products in North America, introduces its Top 5 Trends for 2023 in the MSI exclusive Lookbook. The 2023 Lookbook features the five design trends with accompanying design tips, inspirational images and surface products you can incorporate into your environments when making home improvements. These on-trend surfaces include a variety of floor, countertop and wall materials for you to install during your next remodel or new home construction project. With inspiration stemming from attending the 39th edition of Cersaie, the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tile and Bathroom Furnishings, in Bologna, Italy, Emily Holle, MSI’s Director of Trend & Design, has compiled the latest trends and styles to watch out for in 2023. From luxury vinyl planks indoors to turf and pavers outside, MSI has a massive assortment of surface materials that pair perfectly with each trend. Forever Outdoors, Global Spice, More than Mod, The Golden Hour and Verdant Storm are this year’s show stopping trends inspired by the world’s leading designers, architects and many other industry professionals. Forever Outdoors Appreciating life outdoors has never felt so good, especially when you can once again gather with all of your family and friends. From conversing by the fireplace to eating dinner on the patio, gathering outside allows us to embrace nature more than ever. To create this magical space, use natural stone pavers and tiles on the floor and accent walls while incorporating these materials to fireplace surrounds and other exterior surfaces. Global Spice Inspired by the decor of an authentic Mediterranean villa comes the introduction of rosy blushes and rich terracottas. Add these warm and soulful colors to various interior spaces like furniture, accent walls and other areas throughout your home. Complete the look with copper and other earthy shades by installing surface material using stone, brick and natural wood looks. More than Mod With a classic take on black and white, contemporary design meets comfortable farmhouse vibes. Create the look using marble and other natural stone materials in combination with encaustic and tribal geometric designs. Accomplish this by adding marble-look countertops from the Q Collection and a patterned design from the Kenzzi Porcelain Tile Collection. Check out our Product Blog throughout the year for more in-depth inspiration and knowledge from each of the Top 5 Design Trends. To learn more about MSI’s complete product assortment, visit https://www.msisurfaces.com Ringing in the New Year, MSI Announces Its Top 5 Trends For 2023 TIME. That meant not early and not late. We’d install about 3K vehicles per day in seven different countries around the world. We needed to have the specific parts for 25 specific models at any given time. It was very detailed and specific, and you always ran into problems — big and little — the factory that burned, or the boat that didn’t arrive on time, or a city shut down due to an earthquake – you have to be on your toes handling this stuff. That experience taught me to get to the source of any problem and figure it out. Sometimes that means reaching out overseas to a factory to convince them to get things done.” Valor Capital is confident in the future of the Tampa Bay luxury real estate market and is expanding its developments in several locations. “There is no real estate crisis. There is an inflationary crisis, which means all goods, services, and assets are going up in value. When investors and consumers realize this, they invest heavily in real estate to protect their money from the depreciation caused by inflation.”
BUILD Q1 2023 6 Apr22042 lastiblok – the company behind Lok-N-Blok – is a design and manufacture company based out of Paducah in Kentucky. Nominally, the place of its birth as a company has played a huge role in bolstering the inspirational ingenuity that runs through its very core, with the professionals within its ranks consistently pushing the limits of what is possible in construction. This has allowed it to funnel significant effort into design, ideation, and testing, resulting in a company that creates heavily tested and highly effective products that make life easier for its professional clients, ensuring that they themselves achieve the best results for their end customers. In this manner, it has designed ‘a better way to build’. Foremost, its idea for its flagship product came about when the minds behind it considered how a child’s building block works. Contemplating the simple design, the emphasis on each piece being part of a bigger whole, and the inherently modular nature of it, Plastiblok decided to see how it could expand this concept in order to apply it to building and construction. Thus, the Lok-N-Blok was born, a basic building block product that has become known as a truly game changing product for the worldwide construction industry and the professionals that seek to improve the field. Employing a simple, interlocking internal system, and making use of ENVION composite material, the Lok-N-Blok allows for superior structural strength whilst still being sustainable. With Building A Sustainable Future Since its inception as a company, Plastiblok has been looking for new ways to improve building and construction as an industry. Thus, when it came up with the idea for Lok-N-Blok, it found a bold new way to do this, all based on the idea of simple solutions that can handle incredibly complex problems, earning it an award for being a ‘Leader in Sustainable Residential Construction’ in 2022 for Paducah, Kentucky. Indeed, its region has vastly benefitted from the innovations it has brought to bear, with all manner of construction companies taking advantage of the way its products simplify the workload of wall building, improving insulation in the process. P
Q1 2023 BUILD 7 each of these factors in mind, Plastiblok is proud to say that the Lok-N-Blok has become an exemplary flagship product, one that is slowly changing how construction professionals see the materials they work. Critically, the problem solvers, freethinkers, and innovators behind Plastiblok are proud to say that many clients have been shown the benefits of Lok-N-Blok firsthand since its inception, and that many such clients have been a big part of its growth by leaving it glowing reviews or going on to recommend Plastiblok’s products to fellow peers. This group of clientele – past and present – is hugely diverse due to the variety of benefits to using Lok-N-Blok. Fundamentally, the use of this alternative building tool costs far less than the use of traditional materials; it is also speedier, stronger, and safer, with no need to hire expensive specialist labour required for installation. Moreover, its exterior loadbearing Lok-N-Blok utilizes over 45% recycled materials, including plastic and glass, while its interior wall Lok-N-Blok utilizes over 60% recycled plastic and glass. Saving hundreds of thousands of trees and reducing carbon emissions by thousands of tonnes, it hopes to become the number one largest user of recycled polypropylene in the world – and is proud to be contributing to environmental preservation in this manner – something it hopes many more professionals in its field will join in on soon. With a tapered dovetail design that has been produced to allow each Lok-N-Blok to work together in perfect synergy, each Blok stacks perfectly. Indeed, much like the children’s toy blocks they were based on, they have been specifically designed to be as easy as possible to put together for the construction worker, a cornerstone desire for the project in the macro scale, as construction work is such a physically and mentally demanding profession. Being the new kid on the ‘Blok’, of course, means that the industry it is approaching must have an opening or at least a receptiveness in the market for a bold new product. For some, this has indeed been the hang-up when it comes to Plastiblok. Lok-N-Blok is, indeed, a disruptive new product, but does the market need – or indeed want – disrupting? Plastiblok and studies by professionals such as the Farnsworth Group in 2019 show that, indeed, it does, with 76% of builders being keen and interested to try products with advanced and new features. Furthermore, in 2020, HSB Magazine asked its readers a similar question, focusing on how likely it may or may not be for steel framing to emerge as a leading alternative to wood framing in construction; in this case, only 39% steadfastly said it would not happen. This pertinently shows the need for an old industry to be taught some new tricks, and Plastiblok is certainly one of the best companies to do that, excited to be taking the age-old, prestigious construction industry into the modern epoch with a new, innovative, and vastly more sustainable product. Having found its beginnings in 1996, it has certainly come a long way since the founders considering the best way to build backyard walls. Indeed, it is the zeal with which co-founders Greg Siener and Mike Zumer dedicated themselves to consulting professionals, developing the concept for their mortar-less interlocking building block system, and testing new composite materials that allowed the Lok-N-Blok to become what it is today. With a proactive approach that combines acclaimed engineering, architecture, material science, and more, Plastiblok subjected the initial prototypes to rigorous testing. Requiring each new development to pass International Building Code Requirements, and requiring each product to fit with the specifications demanded by the International Code Council, the Lok-N-Blok and its pioneering way technology has helped the company behind it to become an industry leader. Indeed, from this position at the head of the pack, Plastiblok has been able to take a proactive approach to encouraging the growth of its industry, and is honoured to be one of the entities shaping its future. Company: Lok-N-Blok Contact: Gregory Siener Website: lok-n-blok.com
BUILD Q1 2023 8 Jul22631 he challenge of working in design and construction often goes beyond the practicalities of delivery. With enough resources, anything can be built in almost any timeframe. What sets the good apart from the best, therefore, is the ability to create a stunning result that meets a specific set of needs on a predetermined budget. More than simply overcoming logistical issues, Ei Construcción has thrived thanks to an approach which always takes the needs of the client into account. Right from the start, it’s worth considering that the Ei Construcción team often don’t go out to tender for a project. Their skill and ingenuity are renowned throughout the industry, giving the team the ability to very much choose what projects they undertake. Clients often come to them with exciting ideas that they develop and collaborate on. Key to what Ei Construcción bring to any job is an innovative edge that sets them apart from the competition. With 32 years of experience in the industry, there are very few challenges they haven’t faced, and even fewer they have yet to overcome. The team’s incredible skill has reached out into bold new areas, with the team offering their services in Mexico, Texas and New Mexico. If a project involves design, construction, and facilities contracts, Ei Construcción has the technical ability to make it work. The immense value that they bring to any project is clear from the way in which they are such effective collaborators. Over the years, the team has learned that the easiest way to guarantee 100% satisfaction is to make sure that everybody’s expectations are the same. The time spent perfecting a design on paper is saved tenfold once the construction process begins. New projects showcase the attitude of the Ei Construcción team particularly well, especially the way in which they investigate and integrate the ideas behind the building. For them, the client’s brief is only one part of the puzzle. Just as important is understanding precisely what is required of them once the project has been complete so that the team is able T With an eye for innovation at all times, Ei Construcción has made a name for itself as a leading provider of design and construction services. Their collaborative spirit stands apart from the crowd. With such success behind them in the Construction and Engineering Awards, we thought it time to dig a little deeper into the secrets of this intrepid team’s many and remarkable achievements. Best Cross-Border Industrial/ Commercial Infrastructure Construction – USA-Mexico
Q1 2023 BUILD 9 to incorporate the right features in the best possible way. To provide continuous feedback, the team undertake a process of constantly referring back to the clients. By the end of the design process, the team will have all the information they need to bring their projects into startling reality. When it comes to building new and innovative projects, one that has achieved acclaim is the Founder’s freight terminal. The Ei Construcción team was responsible for the design and development of this impressive structure, specifically tailored towards the needs of truck drivers. It was funded by Transportes Soto e Hijos, a firm which has long committed to offering an exceptional transport service to the people of Mexico. They wanted a building to act as a flagship for their services, and the spearhead for their move into the US market. A team of experts were assembled to act as consultants on the projects, including truck drivers, a truck designer, trucks workshop mechanics, hoist experts, compressor experts, warehouse managers and experts in the logistics of moving goods across international borders. This pool of knowledge was an invaluable guide as the Ei Construcción team began to develop their plans. On their side, Ei Construcción employed the services of a lighting designer, a skylight expert, solar energy expert, security and communication systems expert, internet expert and furniture expert to work alongside the standard design team of a civil engineer, architects, structural engineer, electrical and mechanical engineer and the landscaping designer. This ensured that whilst the project would fulfil the unique requirements demanded of it, it would also be able to lead the way in terms of green technology. Sustainable principles drive a lot of what the Ei Construcción design team does, with a desire to take care of Mother Earth at the heart of many of their decisions. Any construction project will disturb the balance of the world, but there are choices which can be made to make the impact as small as possible. The less damage done, the better. To this end, on this project, the team have sought to make the most of the potential of solar panels, lighting controls and skylights that do not transmit heat, and so consume as little energy as possible. When heading into unpredictable areas, Ei Construcción is the ideal partner. With legalisation of cannabis in New Mexico recently achieved, the firm was tasked with the construction of a greenhouse for the growth of the plant. Having never undertaken a project of this sort before, it has proved to be a major learning curve for the team, but one which provided a wealth of knowledge that many others won’t have. This project is still in development, and has opened the door for the team to collaborate with a host of cannabis experts from the state of California. Already, there is a need for expansion with warehouses to support the greenhouse that will work in a similar way to clean rooms. The level of sophistication demanded by the cannabis industry means that the buildings have to be of the highest possible standard, essentially forming huge clean rooms as opposed to the traditional image of a greenhouse. The ability to control every aspect of the building’s climate, including humidity, temperature, lighting and dust, as well as not allowing pests or bugs inside showcases how the team constantly raise their standards to meet the needs of their clients. Although this was a new industry for the team to work in, the Ei Construcción team would happily work with clients in the cannabis industry again. Not only is this an emerging market, but it is one which will demand a high standard of construction that the Ei Construcción team can deliver. In many ways, working with their client in the cannabis industry was more akin to working on a project on a medical production facility. Having built a new set of experiences in this niche, the team are ready to grow to new heights of success. The future seems incredibly bright for the team at Ei Construcción, with new projects coming the fore after many were cancelled in the light of the pandemic. What is clear is that the last three decades have not stifled or slowed the team at all. In fact, they have continued to broaden their outlook and perspective on the construction industry. The innovative streak that has always set the firm apart has remained as strong as ever. Company: Ei Construcción Name: Roberto Delgado Email: [email protected] Web Address: eiconstruccion.com
BUILD Q1 2023 10 Best Bespoke Construction Management Company 2022 - UK Barry O’Connor relocated to Britain from South Africa, in 2004 with a compounded background in construction. In 2018, he founded Trusko, a specialist construction company delivering bespoke services within principal contracting, with the help of an extensive and reliable supply chain. In light of the firm’s success within the Sustainable Building Awards 2022, we got in touch with CEO, Barry, and COO, Graham Cunningham, to learn more about what their team can do for clients.
11 Q1 2023 BUILD Nov22136 ith his grandfather having owned a construction company, Barry O’Connor pretty much grew up on building sites, learning the ins and outs of construction, from project management to building to carpentry, and more. He went on to work for construction companies, gaining vast experience in site and project management. In the four years since Trusko’s establishment, Barry, Graham, and the team have proven their next-level skillset, experience, and ability to deliver bespoke solutions for clients. The aim is to push the boundaries on current construction methods and processes to ultimately deliver a much more sustainable project lifecycle. Barry tells us, “Construction is one of the biggest sectors impacting sustainability, receiving more pressure from the government and industry to adapt their operations as a response. Trusko is at the forefront of sustainability, and we actively challenge and drive our consultant teams to adopt this mindset as well.” The construction industry has changed in response to the mounting pressure from the government to act in favour of the environment. For instance, modern methods of construction (MMC) are increasing in popularity across the industry. Trusko has taken this methodology and implemented it within its current projects by utilising local workforces, bulk buying materials and mass deliveries, and managing onsite with storage facilities. It also implements a “reuse, retain, and repair” system internally to ensure its workforce retain and reuse materials or build over instead of demolishing. Furthermore, Trusko’s current Exeter project is a pilot of modular construction which will be rolled out in conjunction with the government to later form modular villages with a low carbon footprint. These will be made up of 45 new-build houses, designed to blend in with the character and nature of the existing historic villages, whilst being optimised for biodiversity. The vision for the project is to focus on beauty, nature, greenery, and safety, with all of the new houses benefiting from a pleasant cycle route, village green, orchard, wildflowers, permeable parking, and warm streetlights. Another notable project which has been completed by Trusko is its three-storey extension on top of existing flats in Harrow, Greater London. Several new flats were created using a steel structure and light steel walling system. A new lift was also installed, along with internal access amended and the entire cladding system being replaced to conform with EWS1. The location of the project did present a series of challenges, including transport and delivery of steel within the confined spaces of London, as well as suitable welfare for the workforce. The building remained occupied by residents whilst works were taking place which meant disruption needed to be kept to a minimum. If this wasn’t enough, Barry jokingly tells us, “We decided that project wasn’t challenging enough for us. We finished the project in Harrow and then delved straight into another distressed project with the same developer, a commercial to residential refurbishment comprising of 47 flats in Staines-Upon-Thames.” The Trusko team will give this building a new lease for life, extending the building with a further two storeys and adding nine additional apartments with stunning views of the beautiful River Thames and surrounding area. Each apartment will be contemporarily and individually designed and styled with young professionals in mind to create new opportunities for first-time buyers. Once again, logistics is a challenge, along with residents occupying the building and pedestrians everywhere. Overall, every Trusko project is interpreted from multiple areas and perspectives. Prior to taking on a project, the team considers if the end W product and client would be suitable for the company and the way in which it manages and works. The company will then consider if the project will be contributing to the local economy and environment, and if the completed product would fit in with its outstanding reputation. Trusko’s core ethos is that communication is key, which is why it manages its clients’ expectations from day one. Each client is kept up-to-date on every detail of their project throughout the construction process; the company does not set up its clients to fail, so much so that it delivers quality even at its own cost. Trusko’s quality management and control is compliant with internationally recognised standards, including ISO 9001:2015, so each item of work is scrutinised throughout the process to ensure only the best quality of work is seen on its contracts and final products. Graham Cunningham says, “We question everything. We are really, in every sense of the word, out-of-the-box thinkers and I think that’s one of the things that helps us to achieve what we do in the way we do; there is no ‘can’t be done’ or ‘no’ in our vocabulary. It’s just ‘what do we need to do?’ We will find the answer and I think that is possibly why we’ve managed to grow to where we are in such a short amount of time.” Agreeing, Barry adds, “We just don’t give up. We keep pushing boundaries, we keep finding solutions. We keep driving and we remain positive. Some days, I think other companies would just walk away. However, our focus always remains on product quality and client satisfaction. The team’s motivation and enthusiasm for their work contribute significantly to the success of Trusko. They enjoy what they do, they like to collaborate, and they enjoy being challenged. This healthy working atmosphere is to do with Barry and Graham’s dedication to looking after their people: ensuring they are trained and safe in the workplace, that they have the tools to get the job done to a high standard, that they have healthy work-life balances, and knowing each and every member of staff on a personal level. Graham shares, “Should you decide to leave Trusko, you leave better than when you started, and that might be in terms of a technical knowledge and maybe in terms of project management knowledge. It may be in terms of just general time management. That is my hope for everybody that comes to the company. We expect a lot of ourselves, we expect a lot of everybody works for us.” He continues, “I pride myself when I walk onsite. I know everybody’s name. That personal touch, it motivates people and I think that is really important in the construction culture. Building those relationships and understanding that we are essentially looking after our workforce as well as our clients, that’s where we really make a difference.” Ultimately, Trusko has defied the odds, thriving within the construction industry despite how turbulent it has been in the last four years. The company has coped with Brexit and the pandemic, in addition to the Suez Canal obstruction, unprecedented inflation, and brewing recession. Barry comments, “We would like to congratulate every other construction company still trading and wish them the best of luck for the future.” Barry says, “At Trusko, we believe there is nothing more satisfactory than building a home where our client will live forever, and we push boundaries with cost savings and quality to ensure our clients’ homes will stand the test of time.” Company: Trusko Limited Contact: Barry O’Connor, CEO / Graham Cunningham, COO Email: [email protected] Website: www.trusko.co.uk
12 BUILD Q1 2023 Nov22201 aking changes to your home – for example, adding an extension or converting the loft – can be a great way to increase its value or shape it to your needs. However, it can be an expensive process, what with the need for planning permission, materials, and labour. It’s vital to hire a company that is affordable whilst also being reliable. Design Spec Ltd. is a fixed-fee architecture company that prioritises customer service; in essence, the company believes that a great service can be provided on a fixed-fee basis across the nation. Design Spec Ltd. works on a diverse range of projects, from blocks of flats to single internal steel beams or visuals, and it makes itself unique by offering any service, at any size, for a fixed fee. Furthermore, the firm also offers an unlimited design stage for all homeowners. This has proved to be a necessity and has created several tangible benefits; for example, as many tend to struggle to know what they want, this process allows Design Spec Ltd. to cycle through a plethora of ideas before pushing the project forward. This process manifested through Design Spec Ltd.’s passion for people – the company hires great people and works for great people. The company’s team is wholly devoted to providing a premium service, and they are enthusiastic about collaborating with clients on their dream homes. Design Spec Ltd. believes that whilst most Architectural Project Managers boast an abundance of valuable design experience, they lack the ability to listen to the client’s needs. As such, by hiring Project Managers with a limited design background, Design Spec Ltd. ensures that its hires have exceptional people skills, resulting in clients loving working with the company and ultimately leaving positive reviews. By maintaining a strong and stable relationship with both its team and its clients, Design Spec Ltd. has secured its success for the long-term, and this provided a number of benefits throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Design Spec Ltd. was able to adapt, with its most notable improvement being the uptake of new technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, which – prior to the outbreak – seemed like a luxury and was largely an afterthought. Now, these technologies are considered as a necessity alongside the planning and building control applications, which are fundamental to Design Spec Ltd.’s work. M Each of these factors define Design Spec Ltd. as something truly unique; the company is unlike anything else in the industry. The clients come first: this is an idea that echoes throughout everything the firm does, from implementing a fixed-fee system to the way in which it conducts itself whilst working on projects. In turn, Design Spec Ltd. has earned the accolade Architecture Firm of the Year 2023 - United Kingdom, a title of which it is most deserving. For the future, Design Spec Ltd. has an exciting new sister company launching, called Design Spec Construction, which will inevitably propel it even further into success. Design Spec Construction will guide each homeowner through to the end phase of each build, so they know that everything will be taken care of properly – with a calm, steady hand, respect for all of their wishes, and to the highest standard imaginable. Additionally, Design Spec Ltd. would love more people to join the #ArchitecturalRevolution. Its journey has only just begun! Contact: James Collinson Company: Design Spec Ltd. Web Address: https://www.designspec.co.uk/ Architecture Firm of the Year 2023 – United Kingdom Design Spec Ltd. offers impeccable architecture services with a twist – each service is available for a fixedfee, making architectural developments more accessible and affordable. The firm, which is headquartered in Hockley, offers its solutions to homeowners across the nation, and through doing so, it has changed the face of the architecture industry.
13 Q1 2023 BUILD Minimalism and the Loss of Identity Minimalism has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many utilising the movement as a lifestyle. In architecture, minimalism has become an integral part of contemporary design, with many opting to focus on functionality rather than aesthetic value. As this trend has infested countries around the world, it has disrupted cultural design trends, bringing forth the sanitisation of culture. kylines around the world are beginning to look the same. Towers of glass and concrete rise high above the streets below, blurring the sun behind their immense frames. They are soulless. Cold. They serve as a reminder of the postmodern age – minimalistic and streamlined. Filled with offices, luxury apartments, department stores, and boutiques, such buildings stand as a symbol of consumerism and wealth, offering little in aesthetic value bar a sleek and polished appearance. From Dubai to London, and Beijing to Tokyo, buildings like these are appearing everywhere, erasing creativity, culture, and history in exchange for simplicity. Prior to the Second World War, architectural innovation was thriving. The Art Deco movement, for example, was blossoming in Europe and the United States during the 1920s and 30s, with one of the most famous examples of Art Deco architecture being New York’s Chrysler Building which was completed in 1930. Designed by William Van Alen, the opulent building is topped with a distinctive Art Deco crown and spire. Comprised of Nirosta steel, the crown follows a unique sunburst pattern, interrupted by triangular vaulted windows which are repeated along the terraced crown’s seven setbacks. However, it is inside the building where Art Deco truly comes to life. The triangular lobby exudes golden-age opulence as etched-glass chandeliers dangle above each stair and a mural spans the ceiling. Transport and Human Endeavour by Edward Trumbull, at the time of its debut, was the largest painting in the world, covering an impressive 78 by 100 feet. Quintessentially Art Deco, the mural boasts golden and ochre tones, sharp angles, chrome ornaments, and of course, triangles. To this day, the Chrysler Building is synonymous with New York, just as the Eiffel Tower is with Paris and the Taj Mahal with Agra. Simply, architecture defines culture, it highlights eras, attitudes, and hopes. Moreover, in a world of internationalism and globalisation, architecture helps to create and preserve individuality. It is the connection between present day and bygone times, upholding the integrity and fundamental elements that make architectural trends exclusive to different countries. Indeed, as different cultures have different needs and practices, then it is natural that architectural designs reflect these distinctions. It was during the early 1950s, however, that modernist, brutalist, and minimalist architecture rose to the international stage. United by a lack of ornament and an embrace of the bare essentials, these movements each highlight a post-war movement towards a more relaxed take on life, shifting away S from the eccentricity and maximalism of architectures heyday. Perhaps these styles were developed to express happiness and a healthy life without the influence of consumerism; however, as the minimalist movement in particular has spread around the world, so has the loss of culturally-influenced design. From the visual arts to music, minimalism has made its presence known, with the likes of Eva Hesse, Robert Morris, and Carl Andre becoming the faces of the movement. According to Tate, who run four major galleries, minimalist art embodies a purified form of beauty, potentially representing qualities such as truth, order, simplicity, and harmony. In its own way, minimalist art is avant-garde, defying the norms of artistic convention. Yet within architecture, it could be said that these factors have been lost to economic-effectiveness, optimisation, and capitalism – after all, it is much easier and cost-effective to create a minimalistic structure than one with fine details and extravagant décor. In the United Kingdom, the phone box is one of the most wellknown examples of this mass sanitisation. The mid-1980s saw the rollout of the KX Telephone Box, which replaced the classic, stylistically-superior design of the iconic red telephone box. The red telephone box has such a legacy that it is still used on English and London merchandise and art. In comparison, the contemporary design is exceptionally bland and drab, with a 2001 The Guardian article stating: ‘Since then, BT has done its utmost to turn the phone box from one of the most famous and elegant pieces of street furniture into the most boringly ugly. It might be more vandal proof, more accessible and more modern (in the worst sense of the word) but the KX100, even when feebly capped in a fake Gilbert Scottstyle crown, looks plain nasty.’ The consequences of this evolution come in the form of a catastrophic loss of culture, innovation, and art. Functionality and accessibility must be considered in architecture – but these should not replace individuality and aesthetics. Instead, they can live in tandem. Architectural uniformity is plaguing the planet, and with it, it has brought about the end of uniqueness, pomp, and imagination. We must realise that architecture and culture go hand in hand – whether it be the Pantheon in Rome or the Konark Sun Temple in India – as such buildings represent people and connections, hinting at societal ideals and philosophies. Without these differentiations, we are setting ourselves up for the complete loss of originality and heritage.
BUILD Q1 2023 14 Oct22109 ince its unveiling on March 15th in 2019, the Vessel has been the site of no less than four deaths. Commissioned by Stephen Ross and Michael Bloomberg from designer Thomas Heatherwick as part of luxury multi-use-space Hudson Yards, this sculpture can be found on the far west side of Manhattan, and has been ‘temporarily closed’ since summer of last year after a 14-yearold boy died by suicide at the Vessel. Indeed, this $250 million dollar project was erected to be a ‘gift to the city’ from Ross himself. But it did not pan out this way. With 16 staircases of metal and glass – inspired by ancient Indian stepwells like those found at Chand Boari to bring water to arid regions – the Vessel’s reception to the New York skyline was one of conflict, with some lauding its design as ‘thrilling’ with its high walkways and view of the Manhattan skyline; and others condemning it as ‘unnerving’ and ‘utterly inaccessible.’ The latter certainly isn’t helped by the fact that the Vessel is entirely a physical experience. In fact, Heatherwick himself described it as an experience of ‘properly using your physicality’ even whilst touting that the Vessel was for everyone, all citizens of New York, implying that all citizens of New York are able bodied and able to contend with not just stairs in general, but “What Happens Now is Nothing to do with Me” The above title, more than just turn of phrase, is a quote from London designer Thomas Heatherwick upon the unveiling of ‘the Vessel’ in New York. Having become one of the most talked-about and controversial pieces of blue-chip art in the world thanks the dark side of this combination architectural experiment, public sculpture, and luxury eye candy, the Vessel has become the centre of discussions regarding architectural experts’ duty of care. When one creates a concept, realises a design, and begins to bring it to life, what – if anything – is the investor, designer and builder responsible for regarding how people use it later? S the huge amount of them in the Vessel. There is a lift, but it takes the person all the way to the top; not exactly allowing them to experience the ‘journey’ part of the artwork that the designers so wanted guests to partake in. And then the deaths began. Tragedy struck for the first time on February 1st in 2020, when the first person jumped from the vessel, and then again in December of 2020, and January of 2021; after this, the Vessel was closed, and the minds behind it clubbed together to reply to the backlash and attempt to find a solution. However, said discussions were heavily marred by discussions of wanting to ‘retain artistic integrity’. Even though strategies were implemented such as a ten-dollar entry fee to the previously free artwork, a buddy system being enforced, suicide prevention hotline signage being posted, and even the introduction of security personnel, the idea of simply putting in railings higher than waist height was considered the sticking point. The reason for this? Fear of damaging the views and the experience. This, ostensibly, throws the quote in the title of this
Q1 2023 BUILD 15 article into a sharp new light, and brings up an important topic for discussion: when one designs a public structure, is it really ‘nothing to do with you’ what happens after it is complete? Is it the fault of the designer if tragedies occur as a result of their emphasis more on artistic vision than user safety? As Caitlyn Doughty from Ask a Mortician asks in her video on the subject, ‘what is [a designer’s] ethical duty through design choices to prevent such things from happening?’ With the Vessel being simply one piece of art nestled in the ‘museum of art’ sector of Hudson Yards, it stands as a testament to what happens when one views their role as a creator as totally separate from the results of people being allowed to interact with that creation; and it isn’t alone. Many great architectural features before it where aesthetics have prevailed over the safeguarding of human life have become similar hotspots for self-harm, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Elmer Holmes Bobst library at NYU, but both structures have addressed their issue regarding self-harm in different ways that can be compared for effectiveness both in harm prevention and retention of artistic integrity. With the Golden Gate Bridge, the railings were not designed for the safety of the crosser, but so that the designer could see over the top of them comfortably. Due to this one design choice, the Golden Gate Bridge has become a hotspot for self-harm, so much so that with 625 officially reported deaths and perhaps over 200 that have gone unseen and unreported, it is no wonder the construction has come under fire. Indeed, It became one of the first architectural marvels to inspire this discussion of ethical duty in architecture, as even in the face of all this death people still worry about obscuring the views and ‘experience’. However, it seems that in the case of Golden Gate, the side of the argument saying that yes, a designer and construction team do have a duty of care, are winning. Suicide prevention nets have been in the works for years now, slated for completion in 2023; whilst this for many is too little too late, for those who have been advocating for such measures to be taken, it’s a relief that the fight has ended in victory. Meanwhile, back in New York, we see another case study of an artwork that became the site of self-harm in the Elmer Holmes Bobst library at New York University. As the main library at New York University in Manhattan, the library was the site of 7 student deaths between 2003 and 2004, with the atrium being soaring levels of mezzanine flooring where the veranda-style barriers gave way to a higher and higher drop as the floors ascend. In response, the library erected barriers, but not just any barriers. NYU commissioned barriers that were aesthetically stunning, and work impeccably in tandem with the wider design of the library atrium, evoking ‘a digital waterfall’ of ones and zeroes that both safeguards visitors and gives a breath-taking visual effect, made entirely of randomly perforated aluminium screens. Spanning the 12 floors of the architectural wonder, these screen-like barriers are proof that barriers need not interfere with artistic integrity, they can add to them, resulting in a safer experience that is – if anything – more artistically poignant, not less so. Physical barriers, as shown by studies such as Pirkis et al., 2013, as well as those published in the British Journal of Psychology, and in findings by the CDC, are effective in the reduction of harm and the prevention of tragedy, and in the case of the Vessel, there have been higher railings involved in the plan since the beginning. However, the minds behind the Vessel are still loathe to install these, and so, the Vessel will likely remain closed into perpetuity until such a time where these are effectively installed. Stuart Wood, the architect, said upon its completion that they ‘didn’t want to design in fear’; but perhaps some fear, some sense of responsibility towards the users of their art, would have been a very good thing, and would have allowed the installation of higher barriers that would have saved lives. In essence, when it comes to answering the above question of if architects and designers have an ethical responsibility to prevent harm to the users of their word, the Vessel has been an incredibly important case study in why the answer is – and always should be – a resounding ‘yes’.
16 BUILD Q1 2023 Jun22327 LEDs have quickly become the option of choice when it comes to lighting properties in the 21st Century. As a leading provider of services in the field, the team at LEDCONN have made their names in backlighting and edge-lit illumination. We take a closer look at the triumphant achievements of the team over the years, which have led to their recognition in the Architecture Awards 2022. et there be light! The epitome of luxury lighting comes from an approach which draws the eye to wherever the designer chooses. Achieving this sort of stunning effect, however, can only be the result of finding a process which is as flexible and creative as the best designers. LEDs have revolutionised how designers think, offering a credible alternative to single-source solutions. Few understand this attitude better than the team at LEDCONN. LEDCONN has long been successful working on the unique challenges that designers face when trying to build illumination within both small and large spaces. With customisation at the heart of what the team offers, it’s little wonder that LEDCONN has earned a reputation for excellence amongst the design community, as they bring new ideas and concepts that celebrate the full range of lighting solutions. In order to have the greatest impact, the LEDCONN team thrive when they are involved in a project from an early stage. Working closely with designers and suppliers, the team are able to easily push the boundaries of what LED lighting can achieve. More than experts in their specific niche, the team act as partners to their clients to make their creative vision come to life. As such, a project management team with a host of experience is available for use, allowing designers to streamline the development process and ensure that both practical and artistic demands are met. Again, this support begins at the development stage and runs through installation. With fifteen years of expertise in the industry, there is very little (if anything!) the LEDCONN team has not encountered. Over a host of architectural and commercial projects, they have honed their skills to perfection allowing customers to benefit from a knowledge and wisdom in the sector that is truly second to none. The LEDCONN team are known for their hands-on approach which ensures that their lighting engineers manage the installation to the high standards that their customers expect. This dedication to every project has ensured that the team are always at the forefront of the industry. It has earned them tremendous respect, which can be seen in their continued success. Whilst specialists in their own specific field, it’s clear that what sets LEDCONN apart from the competition is the ability of team members to collaborate and build effectively with others. A holistic vision of what is to come is most important, and why the team have been able to bring so many wonderful projects to fruition. L For the LEDCONN team, the future is bright indeed. Bespoke LED lighting solutions have become the norm throughout the industry, embraced by designers for their flexibility when it comes to implementing creative solutions. Having set such an incredible standard of work, the future is not a matter of adding new projects or developing new systems, but refining the amazing standards they have already set. LEDCONN products are synonymous with the highest quality and the best possible service, before, during and after installation, but there is always room to improve, and the LEDCONN team are always aiming to raise the bar with their “Of Course We Can!” attitude. Company: LEDCONN Contact: Charlene Song Email: [email protected] Website: www.ledconn.com LEDCONN Best Bespoke LED Lighting Solutions Manufacturer 2022 & Best Completed LED Ceiling Installation 2022: Denton High Schoolwww.build-review.com