People are often very interested by the ‘non-office’ working approach at Clare Nash Architecture Ltd (CNA). Rather than working from a fixed location (and dealing with all the associated overheads), the CNA team work remotely, with weekly meetings to share updates and assign tasks. These meetings often run back-to-back with site visits or client consultations for time efficiency, and take place in cafes or coffee shops in whatever location happens to be most convenient that week, be it Oxford, Banbury, or further afield. We feel there are many advantages to this way of working: it allows a great degree of flexibility, the variety of locations we work in gives us inspiration and keeps us fresh, and there is no daily commute! Meeting up as a team for just a few hours a week means our meetings have to be focussed and efficient. Therefore when we do get together in the same room we can each bring bags of energy and ideas, and we have found it the perfect atmosphere for intensive brainstorming sessions.
Earlier this year the CNA team had a great opportunity to apply some of the principles behind the inspiring housing schemes in Clare’s book to a design of our own. The proposal was for a housing development in Cambridgeshire on the site of an old farmyard. The development would be intended for young families, moving out of the city to a more rural location to settle down.
The proposal required a sketch scheme to be drawn up in a very short space of time, and therefore a different design process to our usual way of working. Normally CNA proposals are the outcome of conversations with our clients, followed by carefully thought out designs tailored to their personal requirements. Only one or two team members will be working on a particular set of drawings at any given time. In this case however we were working to produce a more general design, and very quickly, which called for a giant collaborative brainstorm! Getting our coloured pens and tracing paper out over the table together meant we could bounce ideas off each other and come up with something we were all happy with at a very fast pace, not to mention having fun at the same time!
Although CNA will not be taking this project further forward, due to the rate of delivery required by the developer, our sketch proposal stands as a great example of the benefits (and enjoyment) that come from short but intensive collaborative design.