From classrooms to cupolas

November 1, 2018

How the Newcastle team at international architectural practice ADP is tackling the tough design challenges across the UK

Talk to Amrit Naru or Anita Chan, ADP’s Newcastle directors, and you will quickly spot the quiet determination, ambition and buckets of ‘can-do’ attitude.

Fresh from the success of Spanish City in Whitley Bay, the team is keen to explain why ADP is the dark horse of North East architecture, and how it’s helping clients across the UK make the most of even the most challenging project.

Amrit Naru, studio director, says: “Spanish City has been a part of our work in the North East for almost a decade. Seeing it open in the summer and receive the support it has from the local community has been immensely rewarding.

“The challenges have been significant, but asa team and a practice, we have always relished the opportunity to roll our sleeves up, get to grips with the detail and deliver our clients’ vision.

“Our strong working relationship with North Tyneside Council has meant we’ve been able towork hand-in-hand with them from start to finish;the end result is testament to the partnership we’ve created along the way.”

From regeneration to refurbishment: bringing new life to existing buildings
Anita Chan, studio director, says: “Our Newcastle studio has been established in the North East for over 40 years, helping regenerate and refurbish some of the region’s most eye-catching buildings: Newcastle’s National Centre for Children’s Books (Seven Stories), Central Exchange Buildings, Shipley Art Gallery, Richmond Castle, and the restoration of the Sunderland Empire. In a time of economic pressure, we need to realise the value of the estate we already have, before we demolish or build from scratch.”

The Newcastle team works in other sectors too, and was shortlisted for Refurbishment of the Year 2018 for its work at Eden Girls’ School, a repurposed office building in Slough.

The same team moved on to convert a disused 1980s’ police station in South Norwood into a Harris Aspire Academy sixth form facility for more than 200 local teenagers.

“The end-product has been delivered to a very high quality that sets the bar for other school refurbishment projects,” reports Gary Herbert, project director, Free Schools Capital, Capital Group.

International expertise, local delivery
Collaboration is a critical part of design, andADP’s 100-plus staff work across the UK andinternationally to bring a diverse range of skills and expertise to schemes. In Delhi, the local studio recently completed a new 6240-place school – a paradigm shift in the delivery of education in the region – while in Cyprus, ADP is supporting the country’s university with the implementation of its new Masterplan.

Back in central Newcastle, the local team isbenefitting from this breadth of experience as itlooks forward to working with new clients in the region.

Recent success with the North East Universities Framework – which includes Durham, Sunderland, Newcastle, Teesside and Northumbria universities – has been the direct result of cross-practice collaboration.

ADP Higher education sector lead, Jon Roylance, has worked with many UK universities in his time with the practice and it is this unique blend of sector knowledge and thought leadership – supported by strong local delivery – that has resulted in multiple commissions from major university clients.

One such example is the University of Leeds.

“The university is one of our longest-standing clients in the North of England. Having delivered their £500 million Estates Masterplan back in 2016, the ADP team have gone on to design a wide range of academic buildings – not least the RIBA award-winning, Laidlaw Library, but also the £96 million ‘Sir William Henry Bragg’ building, currently on site with BAM Construction.

“The new, 15,700m2 integrated campus for Engineering and Physical Sciences will foster collaboration between disciplines such as engineering, physics, astronomy and computing, alongside the provision of critical teaching and social interaction spaces.

“It’s the largest single project the University of Leeds has ever undertaken and has involved a complex sequence of stakeholder engagements to ensure the end result delivers on its promise – meeting the expectations of academics,students, staff and estates teams alike,” Jonadds.

Working closely with industry, local authority and academia in the region has resulted in more and diverse commissions. The team is developing concepts for a proposed new railwaystation at White Rose Office Park, itself part of a‘game-changing’ masterplan ADP is developing for property and investment company Munroe K, working alongside Leeds City Council.

From Highlands to Islands: putting people and patients first
Every one of ADP’s seven UK studios has a hand in healthcare, too. The practice has a 30-year long association with Macmillan Cancer Support, with more than 130 projects under its belt. Providing patient-centred environments is critical, so while Macmillan Information Centres as far south as Truro have drawn inspiration from local boat builders and seascapes, further North, the Delamere Unit in Runcorn features the plant life and industrial landscapes of the River Mersey.

Every aspect of the design has been carefully considered, in order to minimise stress and anxiety for the patient.

In Newcastle, the team has delivered DASH (Dinwoodie Assessment and Simulation Hub) for Northumbria Healthcare. This innovative training facility has exceeded all expectations, scooping both a RICS and Health Business Award in 2017, with RICS judges praising the “extraordinarydetermination of the delivery team [which] madeit a standout”.

Success comes in all shapes and sizes, so small victories such as the Children North East 2018 Sandcastle Challenge rate just as highly for the team.

An employee-owned business, ADP is keen to place people at the heart of what it does and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no exception.

Beyond the shores of South Shields, staff arefundraising for the Marudyan Society – a small charity founded to provide an education for children in impoverished areas of Old Gurgaon – and now building a hostel in rural India.

A recent ‘ADP Art Challenge’ competition and auction raised further funds for this initiative, which will enable children in remote villages to receive an otherwise inaccessible education. Proceeds from the event are being shared between Marudyanand Macmillan, reflecting a deep-felt commitment to putting people – pupils and patients – first.

ADP is an RIBA award-winning, employee-owned business: an AJ Top 30, Building Top 20 architecturalpractice with over 100 staff based in seven studios across the UK and with an international studio in Delhi.

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