In December we welcomed Yianni Kattirtzis as Studio Director. Yianni brings valuable design and studio management experience from his years with Make Architects and BVN Architecture. To mark his arrival we asked him a few questions about himself, his approach to design and what he predicts for architecture in 2022.

Why did you choose architecture as a career?

I don’t know where I got the idea from! My mum tells me I’ve been talking about it since I was 7 years old.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’m proud to have worked with a great team on London Wall Place where we created over an acre of public gardens in the City of London. The project won a selection of awards, including the RIBA London Award 2019.

I spent some time as a design unit tutor at the University of Greenwich, introducing students to new ways of thinking about design and communication. Watching their confidence grow was rewarding!

Name your favourite building in the world?

A colleague and I took architecture students on a field trip to Porto and visited three buildings by Alvaro Siza: the Leca Swimming Pool, the Boa Nova Tea House and the School of Architecture. They are designed to slowly reveal glimpses of nature, like a piece of sky, or a shoreline. Walking through them, I got that feeling of anticipation you get in the cinema when you know the final scene is coming up!

What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

My university tutor once told me to “Do things your own way.” It reminds me to be confident in following my instinct, especially in the initial design phases on projects.

Please sum up your approach to design in 5 words

Open-minded, collaborative, inquisitive, intuitive and fun.

How do you approach a client brief?

I write a return brief to make sure I’ve understood their requirements. I see the client brief as the beginning of a conversation between those involved at the early stages.  If I can align our values and ambitions from the start, the project is more likely to be successful, and avoid costly misunderstandings.

Do you have a life philosophy?

Be kind to yourself.

What is your most prized possession?

Right now, the umbrella my wife bought me for Christmas.

Who is your favourite artist?

I love walking through the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; there are lots of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore to enjoy.

Do you have a favourite book?

I loved ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr, I’m now reading his new one called ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’.

What’s something that would surprise people about you?

I can play the flute (sort of).

If you could live anywhere where would that be?

On a Greek island please.

Which sectors do you expect to see considerable changes in during 2022?

I believe all sectors will see considerable change over the coming years.

The way we use buildings is always changing. As architects, we need to design long-lasting and flexible places and spaces that can adapt to the future requirements of our society.

Advances in technology can now help us capture and measure human emotional responses to our surroundings. This is essential as I believe that good design should create a positive physical, sensory and emotional human experience.

That’s what the Studio approach at Chetwoods is all about – the team understand that if you get the five human senses right, interpreting and applying them with imagination, you will create a Sixth Sense of overall wellbeing. This will deliver spaces and places that people will love, and in which they can flourish at work, rest or play. For me, that’s what good design is all about.

In terms of specific sector advances I expect to see over the next 12 months, home and work are now intrinsically linked, and the residential and office sectors will need to work closely to accommodate our new ways of living and working.

The home has become a multi-purpose place: for living, working, playing and learning. It’s also becoming multi-generational as more students return to the family home. Homes will have to be designed to be flexible and reconfigurable to adapt to our dual need for privacy and community.

Fewer people now travel into offices so the role of these spaces has changed dramatically too: from a place to work into a gathering place for networking and socialising with flexible desk and meeting area options. Seamless technology will be a key part in companies keeping people connected to maintain the company culture as they work more flexibly from home, in regional offices and in the city.

If demand for office space in the city is permanently reduced, commercial office towers may also be adapted into multi-use buildings for learning, community, research and innovation.

And of course the logistics sector is likely to continue to expand rapidly, but with an ever greater focus on blending uses in urban areas to meet residential, industrial and last mile delivery fulfilment requirements.

To find out more about our Studio team and how they put the imagination, emotion and instinct into our designs, click here

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