Successful buildings are not solely the result of good architects; a good client relationship is central to both the philosophy and success of our practice. We believe that an enjoyable working relationship is critical for any project to achieve its potential.
We approach every project on its own terms and treat every commission as an on-going conversation with our client – to which we bring our experience, not our preconceptions. We are realistic from the outset and make sure that the brief and project budget are continually managed in tandem.
We realise that for most people, the development of a building is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime; we are mindful of this, and for us it is important that our clients feel fully involved throughout the process.
Unique and Bespoke Projects
As a practice, we strive to deliver well-crafted and conceptually clear buildings and interiors. Every project we encounter is unique and our way of working begins with close observation of the existing condition – searching for the undeveloped qualities and opportunities in every site. These observations prompt a response that is appropriate to the social, cultural and historic context of a given location.
Allowing a Client to Inhabit the Space
Of course, buildings have to be lived in too and a central concern through all our work is to create environments that are enjoyable to inhabit, that continue to delight and stimulate. People spend most of their lives in the buildings where they live and work, and we are continually aware throughout the design process of the impact of environment on well-being.
Below you will see some of the key phases in a project and examples of how we describe the designs and ideas.
From the very first site meeting, we are starting a partnership that will last many months.
Either Luke or Rob personally direct every project with a strong team of multi-disciplined staff behind them. A Project Architect is also allocated to each Client to take care of day-to-day correspondence and all project management on site.
Like any good relationship, the key to a project’s success is communication. Our first step will always involve probing questions to test what you expect from your new home; the more information we have, the more ideas we can develop and the more efficiently we can work.
Hand drawing and sketches are a fundamental part of our design process.
We work in a variety of mediums to develop the design and allow us to think through each opportunity.
Typically this will involve hand drawn sketches that are converted into schematic layouts and basic 3d massing models. The level of detail will be relatively straight forward at this stage to allow for multiple ideas to be quickly exerimented with.
The first layouts we develop will be purely schematic to explore the various option available to us. These will consider the total areas and break down of uses so that you can assess how the designs fit within your brief.
They will also provide a guide to costing the project. It seems obvious to say but the larger the building, the higher the costs so there may need to be some conversations to make sure that the scale fits within your budget.
Schematic 2D CAD drawings allow us to develop multiple option simultaneously.
Once we have a general approach to the scheme, including an understanding of the scale and contextual parameters, we can start to design with more creative approaches in mind.
This will include coming up with novel and original design principles as well as exploring established vernaculars or suitable precedents that can contribute to the scheme
We have the ability to make in-house physical models for projects, depending on their requirement for design development or planning consideration.
This is not included in our typical schedule of works as it is not cost-effective for every project, but we can discuss the options if we believe it may be useful for the scheme.
As the schematic options get wittled down and the massing models become more detailed, we find it useful to develop the spaces and facades into more tangible visuals for further discussion.
The design will still be in a position where multiple ideas are being developed, so the images will convey an impression rather than an accurate portrayal of the finished scheme. The point of the visuals are to evoke a response so we welcome your thoughts on how the design can progress.
We employ a multi-disciplinary team with skills ranging from the practical to the artistic.
As part of our skill set, we employ multiple staff who have rendering and visualisation skills to further illustrate our schemes.
Even though technology presses ahead quickly, these rendered images are still time consuming, so the level of quality we aim for is proportional to its use to convey our ideas. Clients should therefore still see these visuals as tools to further the design, rather than a final impression of the built work.
Once the design has been finalised for planning, the necessary drawings and reports need to be submitted by Mclaren Excell and the Consultant Team.
Typically this will take the form of a Drawing pack and Design & Access statement that puts forward the arguments necessary to secure planning approval. Depending on the scheme, this can be either very short or very detailed to fit the planning strategy.
We have a strong history of aquiring planning approval for innovative and challenging designs.
Occasionally, we will recommend that a client considers employing a professional rendering team to convey their scheme to a particular planning board.
Extremely ambitious or creative designs may require an exceptionally high level of artistic merit to convince neighbours and planning officers that the design is of sufficient quality to satisfy their concerns,
Depending on the client’s needs, we can also offer an interior design service to incorporate specific free standing furniture and decor into the design.
The specification of fixed fittings and joinery are included within our standard appointment as they are an integral part of the scheme, but we relish the opportunity to use our expertise and taste to complete your home.
We offer a turn-key service at Mclaren Excell whereby the interior decor is included in the design so that all the client has to do is ‘turn the key’ to start living in the property.
Turn Key Projects
Mclaren Excell have a close relationship with several joinery manufacturers to create bespoke items that dovetail perfectly with the homes they inhabit.
Materials, sizes and details can be chosen specifically to match the interior so they become part of the architectural vision and offer practical benefits to meet the client’s needs.
Considering the direct relationship between Client, Architect and Joiner, the costs remain competitive and easily under-cut many high end furniture brands.
Design development provides an additional layer of detail to the scheme, necessary for precise costing and logisitical planning. This will come in the form of 3d modelling, detailed drawing and material considerations amongst others to bring the design closer to a reality.
The sign of a good building always comes from it’s detailing. The smallest of details invariably make the biggest of differences.
Throughout the job, we will be assessing material options that complement the form and space of the design.
We have a large collection of samples at our office and enjoy meeting clients to rifle through the options and achieve the best fit for their project.
General material principles will be considered relatively early as the external and internal envelopes take form. These will then be specified in more detail as the design reaches Tender and Construction.
We work with a carefully selected series of Contractors that offer the best value-for-money and professionalism that we can find.
Depending on the type and scale of project, we can take many tendering and procurement routes to help get your project built on-time, on-budget and to a high standard.
We also have a close relationship with suitable consultants, including Quantity Surveyors, to help negotiate the best Tender cost and monitor the finances over the course of the build.
As part of our role, we will be present for the length of the build to visit site, assist the Contractor and manage any challenges that might appear.
Every project comes with unique obstacles to work around, so we are proud of our ability to work closely with Contractors to problem solve and maintain the integrity of the design.
Not every part of the design is finalised before the Contractor starts on site to save time and maintain cost control, so we will continue to have design meetings with our clients over the course of the build to finalise certain aspects of the scheme.
We attend site on a regular basis throughout the course of the build to assist the Contractor and relay information back to the Client on its progress.
We always maintain an on-going relationship with our clients after the end of construction to assist with minor queries, finalise the contract and generally help them get settled.
Regularly, there are small design opportunities that we can help with, even after the project is complete, such as bespoke furniture or landscaping.
We often receive work via word-of-mouth, which is testament of our commitment to leaving our Clients satisfied with their homes both when they move in and years after.