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BACKGROUND TO AK. ARCHITECTS AND AN ALTERNATIVE COMMUNITY OWNED OPPORTUNITY FOR SAXONVALE

Andrew Kirby Architects was established is 2005 with the aim of taking a different approach to delivering housing and buildings in the UK. We have a strong belief in the role development plays in delivering the sustainable agenda, which we all now know has reached a point of Climate Crisis. So our work now is more important than ever.

Whilst we have developed a great deal of expertise in delivering sustainable design solutions, including being Certified Passivhaus Designers and meeting these exemplar levels in our work, we have found that our main challenge is how to bring this into the housing required by people outside of private commissions.

This dilemma led the practice into community ownership and we quickly discovered the benefits of working with local communities. We have found that the balance of Social Value and Environmental Value go hand in hand and have since developed strategies and processes for delivering viable projects in local communities.

For over ten years now we have worked with different communities and local authorities to deliver innovative, low energy and affordable housing and facilities, which meet local needs and the wider climate and ecological crisis. Most significantly, we worked alongside the Totnes Community, under the innovative leadership and management of Totnes Community Development Trust, to develop an 8 acre masterplan for the Atmos Totnes brownfield site. These designs now form part of the Made Community Right to Build Order held by the Society – one of the first successful planning applications of this kind in England.

In our experience, the more local people contribute to a scheme the better. When decisions are put into the hands of the Community, they will inevitably make better decisions for a scheme that meets local needs, the local economy and the environment. Projects delivered in such a way tend to create new ways of bringing forward sites with innovation, high environmental and social value principles required for the future of development that is needed in communities.

With regards to the Mayday Saxonvale project, we consider there is an opportunity to ask you, the community, ‘what you want on this site’, and how we can help you to achieve it. We are not here to tell you ‘what you are going to get’ and simply tick a community consultation box before moving towards a planning application.

PEOPLE:

The team allocated for the important Saxonvale project will be led by Andrew Kirby, supported by colleagues Hugo Davies and Greg Wotton.

Andrew: “I studied architecture in Hull and Newcastle Australia, where I developed my knowledge and passion for sustainable design and building technology. My post graduate thesis was one of the early papers on the principle and importance of sustainable development two decades before the Climate Crisis was announced. I have been driving towards sustainability my whole academic and working life.”

“My belief is that sustainability in the built environment is not just about insulation and renewable technologies, but about how buildings and places connect people and communities to the natural environment to help them be inspired and informed about the importance of protecting and enhancing the natural environment for our communal wellbeing. To achieve this, there must be balance between architecture and nature” 

“Also as a passionate surfer and long distance open water swimmer, I have a deep connection to the sea and the natural world, where being out in the elements is continual inspiration for working towards a greener future. I am also a husband and father of two girls, who remind me every day that our responsibility is to protect their future, so every day at work, should represent a step closer to creating the tools for a sustainable future.”

“To demonstrate and live up to my own values and commitment, my wife and I self built our own passivhaus in Totnes and we grow much our own food. Our house does not need heating and we like to remind ourselves every day that we already know how to build for the future, society just need to be active in doing it. And I’m here to help us do it.”

Hugo: Hugo is a qualified architect and has worked for the practice since 2014, but took time off to self build his own Straw Bale Eco Home. Hugo is a hugely active member of Broadhempston Community land Trust, who AK Architects worked with to develop one of the early pioneering self build schemes in Devon. Hugo’s direct experience as a CLT member and self builder puts him at the ‘coalface’ of our clients direct experience of developing their own housing. 

Greg: Greg started with AK Architects in 2018. Despite being a distinction graduate and Bronze medal nominee from Plymouth School of Architecture, Greg stood out due to his passion and commitment for community development. Greg has worked consistently on Community Schemes for the practice and has built up his experience in this sector very quickly and thoroughly. Greg is now a board member for Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) homes and is working in the community to pass on his experience and help Plymouth community take ownership of their own homes.

STUDIO BUCKLAND – LOCAL COLLABORATING ARCHITECT

Established by Architect Jonny Buckland BSc DipArch (Dist) ARB RIBA in 2014, the studio works on a wide variety of projects and offers a range of services from full detail design of buildings to wider scale master-plans and community action projects.

The studio follows an environmentally and socially centred design agenda. This is especially paramount in our current world of rapid change and scarce resources. People are at the centre of our work and we understand humanity cannot exist without the interwoven web of life.

Working closely with our clients and collaborators we use a number of analytical techniques to truly understand a place, brief and budget. We enjoy mapping, sketching and modelling to convey our concepts and through these mediums we’re able to define interventions that have a sense of belonging. We work internationally with private sector clients, as-well as humanitarian NGO’s on projects that span Europe, Asia and Africa.

Jonny Buckland has previously worked for two Stirling Prize winning practices, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, where experience was gained working on a variety of commercial, residential and cultural projects.

Currently the studio is designing a Science and Cultural Centre in Udaipur, India, and helping a community build out 22 affordable housing units in Tunbridge Wells.