Ahead of Thrive Southwest’s 10th Anniversary, we spoke to our Design Director, Trevor Wright to hear his thoughts on what the office has achieved over the past decade.
I think it was the prospect of returning to a hands-on design role. I had spent the previous 20 years in various housebuilding companies, working my way up the ladder from layout designer to design director, much of this time was however spent in planning and design management roles. However, I always ensured I had access to a drawing board as I could never really let go of the creative element, which of course was quite annoying to various architects, and managers along the way! So, when Peter Morgan suggested I might join them and set up a new Bristol based studio, I was of course very interested. Afterall, I did begin my career working in various architectural practices in and around London, so it seemed quite fitting that I should return to my original calling, albeit with somewhat greater responsibility!
Well, I have fond memories of just me, a drawing board, a laptop and a studio unit in Portishead, spending my days trying to convince new clients we have the skills to help them deliver their schemes. In the early days, I was very fortunate to have a great deal of support from the Romsey team, but slowly and surely, we gradually increased in numbers to become self-sustaining within a year or so. We were of course originally ’Tetlow King Architects’ until we re-branded to ‘Thrive Architects’ in 2014. This was an exciting time for all of us as it gave the practice a fresh look and an opportunity to market our services under the new banner, which has been very successful.
Of course, none of us saw what was to transpire with Covid and the consequences on people’s lives and businesses. This has been a very challenging time for Thrive and indeed many others architectural practices, but we have emerged with a strong team of talented and enthusiastic people and we are actively growing the company again across all disciplines.
The company was long established when I joined, and I was very much ‘the new guy’. I was however made to feel extremely welcome by everyone, thanks partly to my previous association with the company as a client, so there were a few familiar faces. The role was a huge change for me, having been ’employed’ for my entire career, you don’t realise what a place of relative comfort this is and moving into consultancy being responsible for generating work, earning fees, paying staff, was an entirely new challenge altogether! However, here we are, ten years later, with a broad, exciting and growing client base and, we are still here!
Obviously, the design element is the most rewarding aspect for me and I still relish getting onto the drawing board to start something new and getting those thoughts onto paper. These days however, I also derive a great deal of pleasure from encouraging the young people in the practice, helping them grow in confidence and developing their technical, management and personal skills. I think I probably see a young me in some of them and I remember, with enormous gratitude, those who provided me with help and guidance along the way.
This is difficult! There are so many projects ranging from three houses to several hundred homes, however, there are one or two that I would highlight.
Jephson House for Spitfire Homes is a project we have been involved with for about five years. This is a complex site in the Green Belt just outside Leamington Spa and contains an existing Victorian villa. We have prepared various schemes, with and without the villa! Ultimately, we retained the villa and created a courtyard of new properties in an arts and crafts style. This is now on site and the team are looking forward to visiting soon.
Frenchay Hospital for Redrow South West, is another site where our involvement has stretched over many years. This project was complex, with most of the team, past and present, involved at some point. The highlight of this scheme being the processional, mature lime tree lined frontage overlooking Frenchay Common.
Just three? Challenging, creative, rewarding
We will build upon the success we have achieved across the group in the last ten years by diversifying our client base yet further and, very importantly, developing our teams to ensure we continue to provide the expert design service that sees our clients returning to us many times. We are of course indebted to our loyal colleagues and clients as everything we do is a team effort, the collaborative schemes are always the most successful projects.
17 08 2022