Avanti hosts: Collaboratively Overcoming Complexity

2nd May 2024

A few weeks ago, we hosted our roundtable: Collaboratively Overcoming Complexity in the Library Lounge of The Makers, which was designed by Avanti and completed in late 2020.

Bringing together Mike Sparrow (Programme Director Hackney Council), Hilary Satchwell (Director Tibbalds), Dr Geertje Kreuziger (Design Advisor Haringey Council), and Avanti directors Amir Ramezani and Adrian Miles – we had an in-depth conversation to uncover the key factors that support improved relationships between public and private bodies in the context of regeneration and urban development.

Chaired by Jason Sayer of Architecture Today, the conversation revolved around The Makers, which is the fruit of a multi-year collaboration with Hackney Council. Featuring 175 residential units for private sale, alongside a new SEND school and an alternative-provision places and other community amenities. The scheme was self-funded by the council costing circa £135m and requiring a productive collaboration between the council and their other key stakeholders.

 

Our broad-ranging conversation identified three factors that made the difference:

Firstly – Agreement on ‘the vision’. The panel agreed that agreement on the ideal financial, development and social outcomes must be a priority to avoid project breakdown. In this case, the development was initiated to generate surpluses to support an education capital spending programme. Every stakeholder had to buy into that ultimate objective.

Secondly – Establishing a base of trust. Private sector partners must be able to demonstrate that they are comfortable in complex operational environments: proven effectiveness points to the potential for success in new contexts. With a portfolio of complex housing schemes already delivered in the borough, Hackney trusted that Avanti was able to bring the skills required to co-locate such differing uses. That trust created an openness where ideas were readily invited and tested rather than refused and shut down.

Thirdly – Thinking ahead when utilising alternative delivery vehicles. At one point it was queried whether JVs should be promoted despite the risks. Indeed if we want more partnerships, legal frameworks and options need to be reviewed as early as possible. At The Makers, the council retained ownership of the land helping to mitigate risk. Nonetheless, all the stakeholders possessed both the technical expertise and a nuanced appreciation for the overarching vision.

Addressing these complex factors to deliver for the borough’s ultimate objective is a testament to Avanti Architects’ ability to take a holistic view of a challenging brief and resolve seemingly conflicting priorities. The scheme enabled the council to extract the most possible value from the site and fund two new school buildings.

We look forward to bringing our expertise to other similarly complex developments, whether delivered by public or private organisations.


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Adrian Miles, Amir Ramezani, Home, Mixed Use, News, The Makers,