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MP2 Design Architects are the award-winning team whose background working with hotels has given a unique sense of luxury to their sustainable and innovative building designs. From their base in Malborough, the husband and wife duo bring a complete architectural design and project management service to home owners across the South Hams. Here, Amanda explains what they do and how they do it…
Prior to 2008, we had a large architectural practice in the New Forest, Hampshire, employing 22 architectural and interior design staff. The workload consisted of predominately large hotel projects and luxury residential design. However, during the recession in 2008 to 2010 our largest client, The Hotel du Vin Group were denied further financing on the remaining 7 of 14 hotel projects we had been commissioned to undertake. As a direct consequence of this and running parallel to the global banking crisis, our practice was considerably reduced. During this period though, we were dealing with the South Sands Hotel, attending site meetings every two weeks over the build period.
It was during this time that we fell in love with the South Hams, making a lot of friends and building contacts in the area, so it was an easy decision to move to Devon. The success of the South Sands Hotel proved very beneficial and we have been very busy since, moving predominantly into the exclusive residential property market. However, since coming to Devon, whilst most of our commissions are luxury private homes, hotels and their complexity of design are always something we are able to work on if there is demand.
We describe ourselves as architects, but we do much more than that. We built our own house in Malborough, and really feel it’s important to have a deep understanding of the trials and tribulations that undertaking such a project can bring. I think we are better placed to empathise with our clients than most.
Whilst our project list is predominately residential, we are specialists in listed properties; all the Hotel du Vin properties were Grade 2 listed buildings, with some being Grade 1*. Both listings make it a considerable challenge to ‘insert’ modern elements and technology whilst ensuring those buildings met the stringent building regulations. However, whether it’s a modern design or an historic property, we always thrive on the challenge of overcoming tight constraints and finding unique solutions to any issue.
In this current climate of environmental impact awareness that same ingenuity is brought to bear; we encourage clients to consider and incorporate sustainable, eco-friendly technology as part of the overall holistic design. This does not have to mean huge up-front costs, for example, we specialise in designing highly insulated and air-tight structures with whole house ventilation systems to redistribute the heat energy saved. We integrate renewable energy systems by applying the principles of these techniques to create simple cost-effective systems.
Aside from architectural design, Mike has also acted as the building control officer for a large, corporate project in Plymouth. This is a testament to our skills-set; taking any project through the whole process from concept design, through the detailed design development, technical detailing, on-site project coordination and right through to interior design as a part of the ‘turn-key’ service that we can offer.
Perhaps the most significant difference in our approach to any project is the importance of recognising that we are just a part of an inclusive team. Beginning with the client, their aspirations and budget; the planners and building control; to the contractors and sub-contractors, all of whom have their requisite agendas which have to be sensitively managed to create an outcome that satisfies all parties.
We also remain conscious of the project budget, being mindful of local property values, we do advise our clients if the design objectives start to exceed budgets or could possibly, potentially over capitalise the property. However, clever design can often help achieve the client’s aspirations without exceeding the budget constraints.
Obviously, the largest outlay of any architectural project is the build phase. More particularly, the time it takes to construct a building where labour can represent 60% (or more) of the overall build cost. Current building methods incorporate many ‘wet trades’ which often require clement weather conditions and drying time. Traditional brick and blockwork walls, foundations etc. all require drying times which can add days, sometimes weeks to the build phase if the weather is inclement.
With that in mind, we developed our unique ‘Smart Build System’. It took seven years to develop, and is a system that eliminates virtually all ‘wet-trades’ with lightweight, dry-assembly components, all of which can be bought through the construction industry as standard materials or components. The ‘smart’ bit is the way they are assembled without any single material or element being so critical that no single manufacturer or producer can hold the system to ransom. We have done this in order to deliver bespoke residential projects with the highest possible standards of insulation and air-tightness, but in super-fast time on-site.
More importantly, with labour usually being the biggest cost in any build, this process keeps labour-costs to a minimum by eliminating the drying times to achieve a weather-tight building shell. This is delivered in the shortest time possible and then, enables the internal fit-out trades to commence much quicker, being less vulnerable to the weather elements.
As a married couple, we work exceptionally well together and complement each other’s talents. I often think that the client gets a ‘two-for-one’ deal when they engage us as their architects. Whilst we do divide our workload between us, we always seek the other’s thoughts and views during the design process of any project. Mike and I are both very down to earth, pragmatic and approachable which I like to think is quite comforting for any clients undertaking, what can sometimes be, a daunting process.
As chartered architects, there’s a strict code of professional conduct which is mandatory to be ARB (Architects Registration Board) and RIBA registered. These credentials ensure that our services are regulated, providing the client with guarantees of our ability to deliver the services required. The title ‘architect’ is protected by law (Architects Act 1997), so that only those who have undergone rigorous training, and fully qualified, can rightly use it. Watch out for companies styling themselves as ‘architectural’ designers or similar wording as this is generally an indication that they are not eligible.
Our membership of the ARB and RIBA also means that we are obligated to carry professional indemnity insurance which should be a paramount consideration by any client that their principle designer is covered in the event of any claim.
We have a lot of individual homes that we are currently working on. It could be said that our signature style, is Coastal Contextual with a modern twist, although we have recently designed a number of ‘modern’ minimalist houses as per individual client-aspirations, one of which is already on-site. Nevertheless, whatever the design, it will always be about high quality, innovative, flexible and sustainable design.
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* The information contained on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge, if you notice anything that you know to be incorrect or misleading, please contact us.