HTA are finalists in 3 categories in this year’s BD Architect of the Year Awards

HTA are finalists in 3 categories in this year’s Building Design Architect of the Year Awards, well done to everyone involved!

Public and Social Housing Architect of the Year

From our roots as community architects, our experience in estate regeneration and social housing spans over four decades and includes projects on estates right across the UK. This year our projects celebrate a renaissance in municipal housing and a new generation of Council homes designed and delivered to the highest quality.

Project examples include:

Our completed project for Croydon Council’s housing vehicle Brick by Brick, actually involved a handful of infill sites of varied shapes and sizes, offering a chance to insert new family houses and modest apartment blocks, whilst repairing areas of unsatisfactory public realm, completing the urban blocks, enriching street life and making a positive addition to the local community.

The next phase of the Gascoigne Estate regeneration for Barking and Dagenham Council explores ideas to deliver successful mixed tenure and multigenerational neighbourhoods through a range of housing typologies arranged around streets and spaces bursting with nature, within a masterplan previously developed through an HTA collaboration with Stitch and Pitman Tozer.

A vacant, brownfield site designed for Greenwich Council brought an ambitious brief to deliver 100% affordable homes with a target to reach net zero and is the first phase of a more ambitious development and is about to start on site.

Finally, the Sutton Estate in Chelsea returns HTA to its roots as community architects undertaking the deep renovation of existing mansion blocks, celebrating the heritage of these elegant but tired blocks, preparing them for a more sustainable second century of use.

The schemes represent the new confidence and ambition of London’s Councils and Housing Associations, and their commitment to deliver quality homes for their residences, a commitment also evident in new schemes coming forward in Slough, Reading and Milton Keynes.

Net Zero Architect of the Year 

HTA Design LLP have a separate unit within the practice to develop and lead on the practices approach to sustainable design, provide services to clients on energy, daylight, overheating, prefabrication, and to manage sustainability certification. The team monitors and manages our ISO 14001 certification across our four offices. In recent years, despite a governmental side-lining of sustainable architecture we have continued to successfully offer these services to all of our clients and have won projects at different scales and types across the UK.

We believe that each project we embark on represents an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of environmental sustainability and adaptation to climate change amongst residents and community organisations in the areas that we operate.

A key element of our approach is to carry out preliminary analysis of the building typology at an early stage in the design. The requirements that must be met in London are complex and stringent, and require a balance between targets for daylighting, overheating and energy performance. Rather than needing three different consultants to work this out between them we provide a service to analyse performance against all three and provide a balanced result between them.

Looking ahead we have projects with local authorities where we are advising them on energy strategies for developments of thousands of homes to meet zero carbon legislation. This includes predicting electric vehicle take-up, growth of the installation of Photovoltaic systems and a move to heat pumps as the grid decarbonises. In other projects we are helping large industrial clients develop prefabrication systems that will radically change the way we build buildings, moving most labour off sites into clean factories, reducing embodied energy and improving the life quality for construction workers.

HTA has signed the ‘Architects Declare’ pledge to shift behaviour in response to the climate emergency, include faster adopting low carbon materials, reducing construction waste and upgrading existing buildings to make them more carbon efficient. HTA’s Chair has just ended his tenure as the RIBA President and has been influencing policy in terms of sustainability, quality of design and diversity.

Best Architect Employer of the Year

We believe our commitment to good employment practices, greater investment in the development and care of all our staff is fundamental reason for our business success. At HTA, we are dedicated to creating a supportive and healthy professional environment that nurtures talent, builds careers and fosters creativity, enjoyment and satisfaction in our shared endeavour.

We have adopted a permanent policy of more flexible working between home and our four studios with more effective communication driving increased productivity.  Weekly Design Reviews are open to all staff to encourage creativity and collaboration, with the annual output celebrated in our Winter Exhibition and Yearbook, and reflected by 11 design awards last year, whilst leading in the energy and carbon reduction in our projects and the practice. The Weekly Seniors’ Lockdown Resourcing meetings have continued, to allocate people more effectively, achieving personal career goals both and meeting project demands. Overtime monitoring with targeted action helped reduce hours worked to below 1%, supported by increased TOIL allowances. Our appraisal system evolved from annual reviews to a process of more continuous development throughout the year, and a focused training plan enhances staff learning at every level.

Regular partner email updates have continued post-pandemic and monthly Whole Office Meeting engages everyone with project, practice and people news, along with quarterly financial performance presentations.  Our parental leave, sick pay and other benefits are amongst the best in the industry.

Our People Groups, including the D&I Forum, Blacc, INCL and HTA Parents work with our 8 Mental Health first-aiders to provide support and guidance for all staff, and introduced a new EDI Strategy with various commitments and biannual board reporting. Our studios continue to serve breakfast and lunch with social events and parties returning last year. All staff received pay increases and profit share payments in 2021. Together these measures and many more helped turnover grow by over 20%, whilst staff turnover remained below 10%, and we welcomed 45 talented new people to join the practice.

We work hard to be the best employer possible therefore it’s fantastic to receive recognition from the Building Design Architect of the Year Awards.

Congratulations to everyone involved. We are looking forward to the awards ceremony!

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