Darren Blake tells us more about Blake Hopkinson Architecture. He explains the company’s plans for the future, its heritage and how winning a North Tyneside Business Award has impacted his business.
Tell us a little more about Blake Hopkinson Architecture
I’m Managing director of the company and I’m a Chartered R.I.B.A. Architect. Our practice is based at New Quay, North Shields in a grade II listed building, formerly the Porthole Pub. We purchased the pub in 2015 and invested heavily in restoring the external envelope and converting the interior into open plan studio space.
Our company is a RIBA Chartered Architect’s practice and was founded in 2007. We’re a team of 15 and are made up of seven architects, two interior designers and six architectural technologists. We work on a broad range of projects from residential and commercial to healthcare and the leisure sector.
Our residential portfolio includes a significant of communal living projects. It is a real passion and area of expertise. This covers elderly care and specialist care, including dementia and supported schemes for people with mental health disabilities. Our interior designers provide a key role in these commissions allowing us to provide a full fit out service. We also carry our strategic and house builder master planning services and bespoke, one-off residential design projects. We currently have a scheme on North Shields Fish Quay that will be featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, filming for which started in January this year.
In the commercial sector we have worked on significant inner-city office buildings including a £10.5m extension to Provident Group’s headquarters in Bradford completed last year. We also have a significant range of refurbishment and remodelling projects for local businesses including Parker Hannifin in Birtley and the Team Valley, MSD and Stirling Pharma in Cramlington.
The practice is also supporting local community sports clubs with live schemes for Newcastle Blue Star FC, Tynemouth United FC and Whitley Bay Rockcliff Rugby Club. We provide design support to help the clubs secure grant funding and help them through the process to get the projects onto site.
How did you come to apply for the Manufacturing and Construction Sector Award?
We nominated ourselves to recognise the significant growth and expansion we’ve enjoyed in the past few years. The practice had secured significant out-of-region work for the first time, significantly expanded its work base into new sectors and turned over a million pounds for the first time in 2018/19. The rise in output reflected repeat business from secured clients and a growing reputation for producing quality service.
What does winning the Award mean to your business?
The award provides an acknowledgement that we are viewed as a successful and established business. Sometimes when you are working away at the coal face it’s good to look up and see what your peers and local community think about what you are doing. Winning the award gave our team a massive lift. For us this feels like a massive pat on the back, and that means so much.
What are your plans for the business?
We plan to continue our growth path, maintaining and evolving our existing areas of expertise. We have a business plan to further expand commercial sector project work and to expand the services provided by our interior designers.
We’d like to grow the team up to 20 staff, in a sustainable way, supported by an expanding workload in target sectors. We’d like to develop the practice to a position where we get further opportunities to work on major capital projects and landmark schemes. Alongside implementing this ‘grand vision’, we’ll ensure we still find time for the smaller and interesting community-based projects. A big part of our business values and success lie in the reward that comes from using our design skills to help local community projects
What’s the best thing about running a business in North Tyneside?
The practice has been North Tyneside based since its inception. We have always been very proud of our location and really enjoy being able to contribute to the local built environment and community through our work, whenever we can. Many of our staff live in the borough and we love our location – our office is a beautiful building with views across the mouth of the Tyne.
North Tyneside is a thriving and dramatically evolving area. North Shields and the Fish Quay is changing too. While it still has its character and rough edges, there’s a positive change with major investment being attracted across the town. We have the convenience of town centre facilities but without the congestion and access issues of a Newcastle location.
Find out more about Blake Hopkinson Architecture at http://bharchitects.co.uk/