This is our first blog of 2015 which goes to show how fast this year is flying by and how busy it has been. Many thanks to all our clients who have kept us drawing! We will be making an effort to keep the blog ticking over through 2015 now.

To mark the start of the New Year we popped-up in Sheffield again. This time, with Common People, we moved into the Pop-up Shop in the Winter Gardens for two weeks with the aim of promoting architecture, design and self-build. We were blown away by the response!

We set up on a very cold wintery January day. We used the great store furniture supplied for the Pop-up Shop by Chop Shop in Sheffield as well as part of our own pop-up office to display our models and drawings as well as a lot of information on the self-build process and also from Build Store regarding financing a self build.

We were unsure what response we would get during two very cold weeks but the people of Sheffield proved that there is a real interest in architecture. We met a lot of people who wanted to know who we were and what we do, including Sheffield Live who came along to interview us. We went on to discuss general thoughts on architecture or even people’s own desire to start to design and create their own home or space either from an existing building or starting from scratch.

The only concern from all these conversations was that there seemed to be a general belief that good design and architecture was not accessible or suitable for the small scale. Architecture and design is promoted at large scale and with large budgets by the Royal Institute of British Architects the press and programmes such as Grand Designs, and there are plenty examples of good architecture in Sheffield. However, the idea that using a designer for your garden room, extension, loft conversion or new home and that good design could actually save you money or make sure the budget was spent to maximise the potential of the design was a surprise to most.

In the recent regional RIBA Awards for Architecture there has been a category for Best Small Project. The parameter for this award is that a small project is anything with a budget under £500,000 – half a million pounds. The majority of our Clients only have less than a fifth of this budget, but good design should still be relevant and celebrated at this scale. Most people only get the chance once or twice in their lives to create a new space for themselves that talks about them as a person, family or group and it is a massive lost opportunity not to take the chance to work with a designer to make something really special that they can enjoy living in for years to come.

We also met a lot of students and school children who were considering architecture as a profession – we’ll blog about this later in the year. It was exciting also to meet a lot of other people with a range of skills and ideas regarding design in lots of other fields and to talk about their work and ideas. We hope to work with some of them collaboratively in the future.

Despite the cold and snow (and it was very cold – we broke one heater and got through a lot of jumpers) we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope to do the same again next year. It has also changed our outlook on how architects need to engage with the public and that good design and the creation of better places and neighbourhoods needs to start from the bottom up, not the top down. Good architecture needs to be accessible and engaging …..and we’ll be back out promoting this again soon, hopefully somewhere just a little bit warmer!