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Last edited 26 Nov 2020
Interview with Ufuk Bahar, Urbanist Architecture
Urbanist Architecture Ltd is a multi-disciplinary architecture practice based in London.
Established in 2012 by Ufuk Bahar, the firm initially focused on the luxury residential market in London, but grew rapidly to take on larger projects both in Greater London and in the UK, with a particular emphasis on planning permission applications, interior design and urban design.
Designing Buildings Wiki chatted with Bahar about his career-to-date, the work of Urbanist Architecture, his design approach, increasing the success rate of planning applications, and more...
|Designing Buildings Wiki (DBW): What is your aim in life?|
Ufuk Bahar (UB):
As an entrepreneur, my aim is always to make a difference and I am lucky that I have made a business out of it, Urbanist Architecture. When you know you are helping people, you are inspired. I love contributing to the elegance, beauty, and richness of architecture.
|DBW: How did you start Urbanist Architecture?|
I started Urbanist Architecture with the aim of helping individuals and communities to transform their ideas into reality through good design that helps them improve the quality of their surroundings and subsequently the quality of their lives.
When you know you are helping people, you are inspired to contribute to the elegance, beauty and richness of life. When you know you are helping people, you are inspired.
|DBW: How did you become an authority figure in the architecture and planning industry?|
I concentrated on one field instead of trying to do everything at once. Because I studied architecture and planning-related subjects at three different universities, I have the knowledge and skills to formulate strategies that easily solve important development issues, especially for planning applications.
Despite my expertise I never forego an opportunity to learn more. I love researching, exploring new possibilities, and acquiring new skills and techniques. Experimentation is important to me because I want to make sure that I am capable of delivering cutting edge designs that influenced by past styles, inspired by contemporary designs, and have impact on future practices.
|DBW: How do you increase the success rate of your planning permission applications?|
Since we believe that every project is different, we believe that every client deserves a unique approach; we tackle every project with fresh eyes and original ideas in order to deliver atypical and specific design outcomes that are completely bespoke.
By doing this, we produce extraordinary designs that fits into context. We are not more intelligent than other architects – it is the principles, methods and resources we use that are unusually powerful when it comes to getting planning permissions through good design.
|DBW: Can you describe your design approach?|
We believe that technical and conceptual thinking, with the right blend of innovation, experience, and experimentation, makes a considerable difference in meeting the challenges of contemporary design, modern architecture, and new urbanism.
For this reason, we are committed to creative, inclusive and responsive approaches in our services that enable the formulation of excellence, functionality, aesthetics and minimalism in our works.
We listen to our clients, understand their environment, and design a building that relates well to its context while enhancing its surroundings by standing out.
Our meticulous design-led solutions take into account, not just the needs and requirements of each project, but also examines the social implications that each solution may have; every project we undertake is done so with pragmatism, and we make sure that we always anticipate everyday practicalities that can often be overlooked within the grand scheme of things.
Our philosophy allows us to create truly unique and high quality places where people can work, live, and enjoy; we believe that if an environment is tailored to specific needs and purposes, if everything is made-to-measure, then this will enhance the quality of life.
We strive for harmony of all elements that animate a building and give it life; we aim to design a space that is as visually impressive as it is efficient. We are driven towards the innovative, the creative, and the unconventional – and we will not settle for less!
|DBW: Why a multi-disciplinary architecture practice?|
Due to both the nature of the planning system and the interdisciplinary process of design, there are significant parallels and interconnections between each discipline. Accordingly, most of the projects require the provision of different design activities and involvement of different professionals and specialists.
Because we are a multi-disciplinary practice consisting of interior designers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers and planners, we are able to handle any challenges we may face throughout any step within our process, whether they arise at the conceptual phases or building stages, whether they pertain to logistics or planning and building regulations.
|DBW: How did you create one of London’s fastest growing architecture companies?|
Human nature seeks instant gratification. But building a successful architecture company that delivers inspiring projects takes time, energy, and persistence. I have been always persistent, and committed to my values and mission.
I am proud that I work with A-star architects and designers in my organisation who share the same values. They are really the best architects and designers in London. And I do also have the best landlords and developers as my clients.
A great designer understands, that it's not only about providing a good service, but that your service and your mission has to resonate with people and speak to the hearts of users.
|DBW: How did you create your company's culture?|
It is not something that I created. I only created the platform which allows it to evolve on its own. If you love the people you work with, you will love the work you do that much more. Therefore, choosing a team that I truly enjoyed working with was paramount.
Urbanist Architecture is a young team but we have ample experience between us. We come from diverse backgrounds and believe that this is instrumental to the success and dynamism of our team: our creative studios are a melting pot of ideas.
|DBW: How do you define success as a designer?|
Experiencing success as a designer is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. We build spaces that helps people improve the quality of their surroundings and subsequently the quality of their lives.
|DBW: Could other people replicate your success?|
We inject our personality and de-commoditise our product, thus ensuring that it can never be copied. It is our stamp on our organisation.
In order to be successful, you need to focus on what you and your customers need, instead of copying or one-upping your competitors. I do believe that by copying or improving something that already exists, you will not get ahead.
|DBW: Did you have any setbacks?|
I didn’t get into this business by thinking that it was going to be smooth-sailing every day for the rest of my life. High points and low points are endemic to the very process of starting a company from scratch and running it.
But when a setback occurs, I try to learn from my mistakes. This yields unexpected opportunities. have the opportunity to shake up the routine and inject some life back into the organisation through our creativity and vision.
|DBW: Can you give an example of a problem you are facing at Urbanist Architecture?|
For example, I wish I had the time to help all of the enquiries I receive. We have the problem of too many customers, too much demand but I do believe that it is a problem we need to have.
For this reason, we have a waiting list at the moment. In other words, a capacity problem. We are planning to solve by establishing our new office in Knightsbridge in the following months.
|DBW: Do you have any suggestions to young architects and designers?|
Firstly, they need to get to work immediately before their inspiration perishes.
Secondly, they need to believe in themselves. Many people fail because they think everyone else is better but you need to back yourself because if you don't believe in yourself, then no one else will.
And finally, they need to understand that they need time to achieve goals, especially big goals, and this requires patience, accountability and focus.
To find out more, see Urbanist Architecture.
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