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FACES MAKING BATH BUZZ


David Kent DKA ARCHITECTS


The company director on DKA’s latest projects, and expanding their portfolio of services


Tell us a bit about your background


I came down to the West Country in the early 1980s after studying architecture at Cambridge. As a young architect there was a lot to keep me busy, particularly in Bristol where the regeneration of the city centre was just getting going, so I was lucky enough to be able to cut my teeth on a number of large commercial buildings. ●●


What big projects are you working on currently? We’re just finishing off a new community hospital at Bridgwater which has been a great project for us. It’s a 5000sqm state-of- the art hospital of which the local residents are already very proud. We’ve been chosen four times to design four NHS community hospitals in Somerset in the last 10 years, so have developed a unique understanding of our clients’ needs for each hospital. We, as designers, have found the process fulfilling and rewarding both professionally


and personally. We have also recently submitted for planning our design for the new Melksham Community Campus, a £20m public building with swimming pool, sports halls, library and a healthcare facility on an historic site in the centre of Melksham. The project includes just about every technical challenge there is and we are looking forward to seeing it on site later this year. ●●


What’s the strongest aspect of your team? Professionalism is at the top of the list. We have a flexible approach, are technically thorough, and treat all our projects with the same high level of attention to detail. We also have a very settled, dedicated team of architects and designers. Our clients value the fact that they can speak to someone with personal knowledge of their site or building. ●●


What will the company look like in five years? Bigger! With 21 years of delivering


David cut his architectural teeth on commercial buildings in Bristol before coming to Bath


projects across a huge range of sectors including healthcare, education, commercial, retail and hi-tech engineering, we’re well placed to apply our experience to new areas. We’re targeting 10 per cent growth year-on-year but we’re not looking just for turnover; we will continue to run a lean and efficient office delivering a professional, high quality service at a good profit. ●●


How will you achieve this? Despite the recent downturn we have never stopped investing in new tools and skills. Over the last few years we have re-equipped the studio with the latest 3D design software, and are ahead of the curve in adopting building information modelling. We’ve also concluded that it’s no longer enough to offer ‘just’ architecture; we need to be able to offer a suite of design services to clients, so have expanded to include graphics and interior design, including a specialist in environments for dementia sufferers and project management too. ●●


DKA recently designed the Millfield School music school, concert hall and dining hall (pictured)


What qualities do you need to be the best in your field? Determination, resilience and unending enthusiasm. Every opportunity that comes our way has to be seized and capitalised upon. We pride ourselves on understanding the brief in detail so we can tailor our solution exactly to the client’s requirements. In that sense, listening to our clients, dissecting the brief with them and building a design solution together is what makes our architectural work so successful. We don’t


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just design buildings, we create state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, exciting learning environments, industry-leading engineering sites – the list goes on. ●●


Where do you get new ideas from?


In every design challenge there’s a solution struggling to get out – the trick is to find it. Often the site itself offers the clue, with its own particular characteristics, slopes, views, whatever it may be. We recently designed two buildings at Millfield School in Street, the dining hall and the music school and concert hall; both started with an analysis and understanding of the site and situation within the school campus. They are examples of the type of building I most admire – where the finished building is faithful to the original idea. It’s difficult to make something as complex as a building appear simple. ●●


What’s next? We’re definitely moving into pastures new in terms of growth. As we celebrate our 21st birthday in July, we’re keen to apply our experience to new opportunities, drawing on the vision and technical skills of our long-standing team. We also think this is an exciting time for the next generation of architects, which is why we’re working with the University of Bath to support and nurture architectural students. We have a very successful placement programme with the university and we also sponsor an annual prize for the most up and coming architectural talent. For more www.dka.co.uk


Rubric, Bath’s modern law fi rm.


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