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Think about it. Stunning spaces without big budgets

​Achieving high quality spaces, without big budgets is on the agenda for everybody across the industry.  We examine how this can be done.

Driving costs down, whilst delivering fantastic spaces has become even more important to the industry over the past five years. Where before, elaborate design with an equally elaborate cost went unnoticed, every cost is now scrutinised by a client, understandably looking for best value in creation of their spaces – without compromising great design!

As project managers, our role has always been to find a way to ensure that costs were overridden by the value that the client got back from their space with clever and intricate design. So naturally, when developing our new London office in 2009/10, at the height of the recession, we looked to practice what we had always preached to clients and design teams, the result was a BCO Regional Award winning building!

Working with Chapman Architects and Cundall Engineers, we restored a beautiful but redundant late Victorian School, to an impressive workplace, which we now share with around 10 other industry organisations. Frank Duffy, a long standing industry colleague of Buro Four, summed up our strategy as having ‘taken advantage of the design – old and new – to tell a story about ourselves, our values and our skills’.

Working on a tight budget, the design had to be clever, Chapman Workhouse developed a scheme that took advantage of and enhanced the long standing beauty of the building, the only new build aspect of the project, was inserting a south facing Atrium, that overlooks the ‘playground’. The atrium connects the ground to the second floor and creates the flexible and collaborative feel that sums up our organisation.  We carefully spent money on restoring features and making the space welcoming and friendly. Needless to say, we are delighted with the result!

Thoroughly immersing ourselves in our client’s business, we feel is key to our role in helping them gain the most value from their projects – no matter what type of client they are. We were appointed by The Woodland Trust, 11 months before selecting the design team, for this very reason, to help them develop a robust brief, explore funding options, establish a clear budget and set up a criteria for selecting consultants.The Woodland Trust were very cautious when the design team were developing their ideas, fearing that the design was heading towards a cost overun. However, Julian Purvis from The Woodland Trust, praises us for looking after their purse and drawing back design where necessary. Rather than limiting and inhibiting the final design, Matt Vaudin, Partner at FCB Studios, who designed the new headquarters in Grantham claims that ‘Buro Four help architects achieve their design ambitions’.The result – a BREEAM excellent building, and multiple award winning home for the Charity.