The first thing that strikes you about Lungfish Architects is their passion for delivering for their clients. It’s at the forefront of everything they do. A rare breed of architect, Lungfish doesn’t just stop at design; they don’t just visit onsite when there’s a problem. They will roll their sleeves up and get stuck in as, quite simply, their vision is to give their clients the best possible solution for their needs. And they relish getting their hands dirty. Richard Daw, associate director, sums up,
“At Lungfish we’re more than just architects. We love to create positive environments where our young clients can live, learn and play.”
Creating purposeful, elegant and sustainable civic buildings, Lungfish has just one structured three-tier approach: to listen, explore and work with their clients on a design-led cycle. The client journey could involve a modular build, a purely bespoke design or a combination of both. The output is always the same, whichever option best meets the client’s needs; a positive, welcoming environment where people thrive.
The practice began as the design arm of Scape Group, one of the leading procurement specialists in the UK. Honing standardised school design and enhancing communities everywhere, the team has provided over £100m of school and classroom builds since 2010. Simon Reid, managing director, joined in 2013 continuing the vision of creating a practice that is ground breaking, collaborative and end user focused. Lungfish launched on 1 April 2016 and is now a team of eleven talented and experienced architects, technologists and technicians. Brimming with enthusiasm and a client-centric outlook, the team isn’t daunted by difficult projects, nor are they precious about convoluted concepts. They are committed to bringing their client’s vision to life – from sketches to bricks and timber – all the while mitigating risk, guaranteeing exceptional quality and providing guidance every step of the way.
Past projects include Aylesford Primary Academy, a single form entry school built on the site boundary of Aylesford Secondary Academy, forming Warwickshire’s first all through school with pupils ranging from 3 to 19 years. Starting onsite in November 2014 with an anticipated 42-week construction programme, the race was on for the school to be built ready for the September 2015 intake. The school was successfully handed over in August 2015 with zero defects and the headteacher, Steve Hall, commented,
“Our work with Lungfish allowed us to communicate the vision we had for the school – and for them to capture it. We are delighted to have moved from planning, design and build to the core purpose of exciting children in their education in this unique space. Our thanks go to all who have been involved in this journey.”
The team has forged a strong relationship with Bedford Borough Council, so much so that the practice is the authority’s design team of choice, covering its entire capital programme for the next three years. Two of Lungfish’s flagship school designs for Bedford Borough Council – Wixams Academy and Wixams Tree Primary School – are currently onsite and due to complete by Christmas and September 2017 respectively.
Working with Willmott Dixon and Pick Everard through Scape Procure national frameworks, the new learning community will provide 824 secondary school places (including sixth form) and 420 primary places for pupils aged 4-18 years, as well as a 26-place nursery setting, and will fill to capacity over a five-year period. Crucially, Lungfish had to meet stringent Education Funding Agency compliance to secure project funding for the academy – few school builds achieve this so it was a major milestone for the team.
Colin Foster, Director of Children’s Services at Bedford Borough Council, had this to say,
“Bedford Borough has an expanding population and budgets are challenging. We have met the need for expanding pupil places on time and on budget. Best value design, honesty and sheer hard graft by Lungfish have been paramount to achieving such successful outcomes in partnership. The Lungfish team are a safe pair of hands and manage the designs professionally through the challenging engagement process, to deliver excellent teaching and learning spaces.”
With just shy of 7,000 school places delivered to date, what does the future hold for Lungfish? The team’s overriding aim for Lungfish is to become a unique, pioneering, unrivalled force of simple and elegant civic building design. They care deeply about their clients and, consequently, the practice intends to grow organically by attracting people that share the same talent and client-focused attributes. At Lungfish, architecture isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.
As Simon puts it,
“Architecture places corners on your street, it directs you subconsciously from breakfast to supper. It dictates how far the postman has to walk to deliver your latest eBay conquest. It surrounds you in a physical legacy that grows with you. It is your life-long habitat.”
In witnessing this passion first hand and watching the team in action it’s easy to see why Lungfish is succeeding. Their joy and satisfaction in seeing a child flourishing in an environment they’ve brought to life is palpable. It’s why they get out of bed in the morning.