Wincer Kievenaar Architects take the lead on project delivery 

The exterior of Newmarket Academy library

Newmarket Academy library, which was designed by Wincer Kievenaar Architects - Credit: Matthew Smith Architectural Photography

Sue Wilcock speaks to directors Craig Western and Philip Branton about how the practice is evolving into being more than just a design team. 

Although the traditional role of an architect still holds true, for Hadleigh-based architectural practice Wincer Kievenaar, the most rewarding projects are when they work alongside the client to help manage the process. 

As Phil Branton explained: “All projects start with a client need, but we are able to bring more to the party than just designing a building. No matter what the project, the client relationship is just as important. However, we excel when the client involves us at the early stages and trusts us to shape the concept and ensure their vision becomes a reality. 

“For instance, managing the planning process, and leading the consultancy team are becoming even more important parts of what we do. We don’t shy away from controversial projects, instead gaining satisfaction from problem solving and delivering the project onsite within the constraints. 

“Schemes can take months to be given the go-ahead. Partridges, Belstead House and Goldsmiths Mansion are just three projects where we have led the public consultation events on behalf of the client and played an instrumental role in gaining planning permission.” 

Two men, Craig Western and Phil Branton, standing in front of a brick wall

Craig Western and Phil Branton from Wincer Kievenaar Architects - Credit: Nick Ilott Photography

Craig Western added: “We are comfortable with coordinating the whole process and all stages. Our team possesses design and creativity, as well as the skills and experience to follow a design through to successful delivery. Testament to this is that we have a list of clients such as Taylor Made Joinery, Sealey and St Joseph’s College, who we have continued to work with as they have expanded and grown. 

“Early involvement means we can question the client in more depth about their expectations regarding the cost, function and look of the building. From this, we expand the project brief, prepare an outline design and advise the client on the best professionals to appoint to the consultancy team. 

“Taking on the lead consultant role is an extension to our architectural role. As well as design expertise, we need to have a basic understanding of everything, so we know when to call on the capabilities of other consultants in the team, and can challenge and question what they’re proposing. Also, sometimes to get a planning decision you need to give further information, and if you have a good, experienced team of consultants in place, this gives both the client and the planners confidence that you can help make it happen.” 

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A great example of how this extended role has worked successfully for all parties is on the new library at Newmarket Academy. 

Headteacher Nick Froy explained how Wincer Kievenaar was pivotal in getting the project delivered. 

“In 2018, a benefactor approached us and offered us funding for a construction project we felt was important to the academy. We are committed to put reading at the core of our provision, so we settled on building a new library. The benefactor asked us to put together a plan and with little more than an idea in my head, I approached three architects and asked them whether they would work with us, even though there may not be a job that came from it. 

“Wincer Kievenaar’s plan was striking and considering I had given them very little to go on, it was like they had drilled into my head and seen exactly what I was visualising. The funder said yes, and the project was given the go-ahead. 

“I wanted Wincer Kievenaar to run the project as they understood my vision and they had relevant experience which was something I didn’t have. Furthermore, they had confidently jumped into the unknown with me, and most importantly I completely trusted their ability to get the job done. 

“They managed the tender process and advised me on who I should appoint as contractor and consultants; the result was a team who in my mind couldn’t be bettered. 

“As construction work progressed, I attended all the project meetings, where Wincer Kievenaar distilled everything into bite-size pieces that I could understand. 

“The result was that everything I wanted was delivered even though, on reflection, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted, and I certainly couldn’t put it all into words. The new library certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. It looks spectacular, providing open space, harnessing natural light and giving us room to house an extra 30,000 books. 

“It has transformed and put reading at the heart of the school, and the team at Wincer Kievenaar deserve most of the credit for that.”