Friday, 12 February 2021

2020 in Review

Where did 2020 go?  For that matter, what about January too?  Here we are, half way through February 2021, more than a year since our last blog post and running the risk of our dedicated blog readers (...that is if we have any blog readers... please do let us know that we're not talking to ourselves by commenting below, or even better contacting us about your upcoming project at mail@tadw.co.uk!) thinking we have all been sat at home watching Netflix and drinking too much alcohol.

Actually, quite the opposite is the case.  We've been kept busy throughout 2020 and the start to 2021 is looking promising.  So, as we gear up for an exciting future, lets take a look back over the key projects and key moments for TADW of the past 12 months.

Lockdown(s)

What review of 2020 would be complete without an assessment of what happened in March, with the far reaching implications on 'normal' life caused by the Covid-19 induced national lockdown.

Much like many office workers across the country we embraced remote VPN access to the network and our new favourite software, Microsoft Teams... once we had learnt how to carefully position our laptop cameras to avoid showing off the carnage caused by homeschooling and being cooked up indoors for all but our allotted 1 hour of outdoor exercise per day.

Truth be told, despite the challenges of remote working, wi-fi connections, and wildly varying working hours, this forced exposure to remote working has changed the way we work for the better, reducing daily miles driven to the office, decreasing our carbon footprint and offering the opportunity to work where we want and when we need to.  

For me, the whole home-working and online meeting ethos bore striking resemblance to the writings of William J Mitchell, particularly his books City of Bits and E-topia.  Published in 1996 and 1999 respectively by MIT Press, these argued that our cities were changing, facilitated by the 'Infobahn,' the information super-highway, enabling cities to work smarter rather than harder through the creation of online meeting spaces (MS Teams / Zoom anyone?) and pedestrian scale neighbourhoods where walking becomes the default / preferred mode of transport.  Mitchell advocated the potential for people to work where they want, when they want and pictured someone doing their day's work in the local park.  

Upon first encountering these arguments while at Manchester University I was struck by how pie-in-the-sky idealistic they seemed; unlikely to be implemented given how engrained traditional working habits were.  While doing a days work in a park would probably result in a hefty fine in lockdown, and probably isn't all that practical in the UK in normal times (rain - temperature - screen glare - lager louts ...), the idea of working from home and the flexibility that that provides has for many become a preferred working pattern.  It's a tragedy that Mitchell's seemingly far-fetched 'e-topia' needed a global pandemic and huge loss of life to get it kick started - well, that, and fibre optic broadband, 5G, better laptops, better software, better cameras, repeated lockdowns and social restrictions.  However, the seeds of change have now been sown - and it remains to be seen whether they'll grow into a new culture, or whether we'll all revert to the old normal.  

Central Road, Partington

A prominent site in Partington, across the road from the local shopping centre, this scheme for shared ownership affordable homes started on site soon after the first lockdown for Southway Housing with Hargreaves Construction, and is now nearing completion and looking good (CGI above prepared by Boxed Red).

Creams Mill and Hall Lane, Little Lever

Working with Watson Homes, P4 Planning, Elluc Projects and Enzygo, a planning application across a series of stunning sites in Little Lever has been submitted to deliver in excess of 250 homes.  In a once in a lifetime opportunity, the proposals include the restoration of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, which previously breached in 1936 and has been disused since.  The development will further enhance the leisure opportunities of the site through a series of woodland walks.  The designs have been developed in consultation with the local planning authority and in response to feedback from a wide variety of other consultees.  CGI's by Render Nation

Green Gate Lane, Long Preston

Following grant of planning permission early in 2020, this project for the provision of 16 affordable homes for Adactus Housing Association (Jigsaw Homes Group) in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and within the Long Preston Conservation Area is progressing well on site with Torpoint Construction towards a target completion over the coming few months.

New Testament Church of God, Brooks Bar

Together with the design team which included DP2 as Structural Engineers, ECS Ltd and M&E Consultants and Poole Dick as Quantity Surveyor, we prepared a BIM model and technical drawings in Revit for delivering this project on a traditional contract, issued the tender, which was returned and a pre-start meeting held.  An enabling works package was then completed to make the planning permission extant...  Then, Covid had it's say on the progress being made and unfortunately the project is currently on hold while the effects of the pandemic and various lock-downs is hopefully mitigated.  If you'd like to help the congregation in their efforts to meet their funding target, please take a look at https://uk.gofundme.com/f/827us9-building-fund

Spring Street, Rishton

Currently on site with Watson Construction Ltd, this scheme will deliver 59 affordable homes in Rishton for Onward Homes.  The planning application was approved in early 2020 and works are continuing on site to realise the scheme which will create a canal side frontage to enliven the canal, whereas other nearby developments have turned their back on it.  This was a key consideration for the whole design and was borne of early stage consultations with the Canal and River Trust. (CGI by Render Nation).

The Lord Clive, Whitefield

This is another scheme to have secured planning permission in 2020 and started on site in August 2020, again with Watson Construction Limited and Onward Homes.  The site was formerly occupied by The Lord Clive pub, which was demolished to provide 27 apartments for affordable rent.  (CGI by Render Nation).

New Staff

We expanded our team during the course of 2020, and indeed at the tail end of 2019.  

Firstly Tino Zhou joined from Sheffield Hallam University to gain a year's experience between his part 1 and part 2 architecture degrees.  Now coming to the end of his extended employment with us prior to returning to his studies, Tino has been able to benefit from exposure to the profession he hopes to join and has demonstrated a good eye for design along the way.  Tino had previously gained a weeks work experience with us while at St Bede's College where we have historically taken part in careers events and it's been great to see his progression.  We're delighted to have been able to offer this experience during a period when many students may have found themselves in tricky situations and, despite the challenges of achieving a productive mentor / mentee relationship through sustained periods of remote working, believe this to have been a beneficial period for all parties.

Secondly, we welcomed Victoria Adegoke to the team after the first lockdown.  Initially working in our socially distanced office and then reverting to home working, Victoria is fitting well into the team and we look forward to seeing her career progress with us.  Victoria is approaching her part 3 qualification examinations as she draws ever closer to achieving professional qualification as an architect.  Having studied at Manchester University, been a prominent student member of the RIBA, and previously gained experience on a variety of commercial projects, it's great to have Victoria joining the team at TADW.

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