Working and learning through lockdown

As a multi-disciplinary team of architects, urban designers, landscape architects, graphics and interior specialists we take pride in our collaborative approach and while lockdown has presented challenges, not least in the rapid transition from office to home-working, our team has risen to them.

We’ve delivered a huge variety of work over the past five months, which have been among our busiest of recent years.

This period has been difficult for so many people, but as a company we’ve recently been reflecting on the positives that have emerged from the experience; and discussing how we can weave them into our new ways of working to better meet our clients’ needs, reduce our carbon footprint and capture benefits for our team’s health and well-being in the future.

For example pre-lockdown we had experimented with video conferencing to reduce travel and save time. During lockdown it became clear that attending meetings remotely is not only possible, but can be advantageous. Meetings can be shorter and more focused if carefully managed, and choosing not to travel miles to make a small contribution to a project meeting or to attend a networking event is both efficient and good for the environment.

Our experience in this challenging period has accelerated our adoption of more climate-friendly processes and has made us be more ambitious in our plans for the future.

However, we still think it’s vital to meet our clients and consultant team members in person and to gather together at key milestones to facilitate the design process. We’ve been exploring how to do this virtually, but feel that it will always be important to sit round a table with paper and pens to understand our clients’ requirements, sketch and share concept ideas and agree shared outcomes. So in the future we’ll be making informed choices about when to physically meet and when to take advantage of technology to meet remotely.

Despite the challenges and enforced remote working, the months of lockdown have been extremely busy for LHC Design, requiring us to test and refine our virtual team working methods. We have needed all hands on deck, with all our design and technical teams fully occupied.

Project News

Major projects in Cornwall are continuing apace with our ongoing work on the West Carclaze Garden Village occupying a whole team of LHC staff including architects, technicians, landscape architects, graphic designers and urban designers. It is testament to their collaborative skills that the pandemic hasn’t interrupted this complicated work schedule, which has included the approval of an updated Reserved Matters application for the first 169 houses; tender drawings for the first phase; works continuing on site and the submission of an RM application for Phase 2 (127 houses).

Similarly, the urban extension to Redruth at Tolgus which LHC masterplanned some years ago, has seen our teams collaborating virtually to deliver work for several developers, as we now help to bring it forward. Work during lockdown has included the Phase 1 development of 185 houses for Treveth Development LLP (Cornwall Council’s arms length development company); RM planning and production of RIBA Stage 3 and 4 design; integrated landscape and public realm design, and the compilation of tender packages.

West Carclaze Garden Village

The next exciting phase of Oceansgate Marine Industries Campus in Devonport also started in earnest in recent months, with LHC working through the options for the new Innovation Centre overlooking the Tamar. With our concept designs for Phase 1 and 2 now built, we are working closely with the MOD, Naval Heritage Museum and PCC to develop the next part of the site, before heading down the hill to begin to look at the waterside developments.

Concept design for Oceansgate Innovation Centre

We have seen an upsurge in new appointments. Our architectural team is busy refining plans for the redevelopment of the Harlequin Centre in central Exeter and looking at new education facilities to accommodate the impending T Levels at several colleges across the region.

Our urban design team is looking at masterplans for in excess of 3000 homes on sites ranging in scale from 80 to 1500 units; across Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Our landscape architects are engaged on a number of town centre public realm projects, most notably in Yeovil, which will deliver much improved town squares and numerous streetscape enhancements to improve the pedestrian environment.

Yeovil public realm proposals

New cycle routes and trails, begun before lockdown and submitted for planning during, have acquired added relevance with the recent upsurge in cycling. In particular we’re designing a network of multi-use trails which will link our emerging West Carclaze Garden Village into the surrounding area.

We’ve also been delighted hear that we have five projects represented in the forthcoming Michelmores Property Awards 2020 – the Hi Tech & Digital Centre at South Devon College, The Wave, the Exeter College Masterplan (on which we contributed landscape masterplanning), West Carclaze Garden Village and King’s Orchard new homes in Stoke Gabriel.

King’s Orchard house designs

Successful planning consents during this period include new residential development at Bay View Road in Northam, near Bideford for Linden Homes and a brand new, green pedestrian and cycle route through the Clennon Valley in Paignton for Torbay Council.

Bay View Road, Northam

All of our colleagues at LHC have been a credit both to the business and to their professions, and the senior team at LHC would like to thank the whole team for their efforts over the past months. Our studios are open and staffed by a small team of people, but we will seize the opportunity to blend the best of both the virtual and the face-to-face worlds of work in the future.