message as to the services offered is difficult as the output for each and every firm is a complex balance of resource and fees. ‘Starchitects’ command higher fees, can allocate greater resource and produce highly crafted buildings, which proliferate further clients wishing to build (and spend) the same. Many lesser known and smaller firms would be economic by comparison but fishing for design-led opportunities by upselling value for money is tempting a mismatch within the creative field, attracting clients who weren’t fully in tune with the intentions of the firm they may be engaging. In any successful identity there is a clear logic to selling design and ideas as something aspirational, to foster an ever increasing (one would hope) loop of interesting and better work. If something we design looks a little different, it’s often because of how we’ve gone about it within the office, and not simply because an individual has had a singular good idea. This process is behind closed doors, which is why it’s not so easy to distil for marketing purposes, nor does marketing that process offer the outside world any greater appreciation for what they are procuring as it doesn’t directly form


German car maker actually does, how it delivers on its flair for build quality and, er, creative engine efficiency expectation management (now there’s a USP). Yet it tells you almost all you need to know, relative to other car manufacturers.

By the time you are good enough to find work in all and any sectors, your USP becomes that very ability, evidenced by your practice’s portfolio of work

the output of the office – i.e. a building. As with any successful ‘elevator statement,’ they capture and convey something of the spirit of the company that sets them apart from the crowd. ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ tells you virtually nothing about what a certain

I do wonder if Messrs Seymour and Holland could’ve braved it out as SH-IT; they both happen to share a bone-dry humour which could carry it off and there would be a fairly abrupt self-selection process of potential clients This is part of the battle – finding the best clients is often about projecting an honest and frank portrayal of your business onto others.

For the rest of us the soul searching continues, and while we may not have found the panacea of identity and uniqueness, we do intend to push forwards with some values we feel defines our work and methods, these being Process, Wellness, and Opportunity. After all that’s been said, the trickiest part won’t actually be defining the message, it will be assessing whether the USP (such as it is) has demonstrably advanced the firm, relative to where it would otherwise have been without it.

James Potter is director at WG+P Architects

Millcroft Supports the Renaissance Luxury Living at Athlone House


riginally constructed in 1872 as a private home, Athlone House sits in an elevated position in circa eight

acres of grounds with exceptional views across London. Requisitioned and used as an RAF Intelligence School during World War II, it later became a geriatric hospital, before being left unoccupied and becoming so derelict that the next owner was keen to demolish it and build a new property. Local opposition to this led to years of planning delays and the current owner has opted to return the house to its former glory. The task of transforming the

historic property is the responsibility of main contractor, Knight Harwood, and the company has enlisted the help of Millcroft to design, erect and manage the complex scaffolding and access requirements of the project. Knight Harwood’s scope of works includes

new roofs, extensive structural works, restoration of stonework and brickwork,

© Billy Jones, Millcroft Director

damp proofing and replacement of all windows. The poor condition of the building and the extensive facade works have meant that Millcroft cannot fix the scaffolding to any part of the existing house. Instead Millcroft’s design team has designed an

independent scaffolding structure that can be anchored to the ground using around 200 Kentledge blocks instead. In addition to the structural challenges

of designing the scaffolding structure, Millcroft’s in-house design team has also had to consider the exceptionally high wind loading prompted by the property’s elevated position and the wind tunnel effect of the openings within the scaffold enclosure. This has involved the use of simulation techniques to engineer the scaffolding for safety and to sequence erection of the scaffold and sheeting in a meticulous programme that supports site safety at all times. The scaffold is now in place but Millcroft

will retain a permanent team on site to carry out adaptions as the programme progresses, attending weekly project planning and health and safety meetings to support Knight Harwood’s project management team.

0208 305 1988



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