The Practice was formed in 2004 by Alun Nicholas, a Registered Architect from the Welsh School, previously raised in Stourbridge. The Practice was for many years an RIBA Chartered Practice, having been a Registered Practice since inception prior to the Chartered scheme being initiated. However, due to the increasing politicisation of the RIBA and finding it no longer reflecting his ideals, beliefs and practice, Alun reluctantly resigned his membership in late 2021; see below for further explanation.
Alun’s previous experience included early part time work with a sole trader Architect where valuable detailing and on site skills were laid down, followed between degree courses by some 18 months with Broadway Malyan in Surrey which was at that time one of the largest Practice’s in the Country. Prior to qualification Alun therefore had hands on experience at the two extremes of the Architectural profession which he maintains has been a strong foundation to his career. Choosing Cardiff and the Welsh School, Alun was subjected to a science based first degree giving a practical approach to design, and their ‘fast track’ Part II RIBA qualification. The second degree took only from September through to the following June, rather than the two years academic study necessary at other institutions, certain preparatory work having been undertaken during the ‘year out’ between degrees; Alun is therefore no stranger to intensive work and deadlines! During this second degree, Alun majored in environmental science and energy efficiency with the Welsh School having been at the cutting edge of technologies at the time. Graduating from his second degree during the summer of 1991, Alun found himself in the midst of recession and with the promised position at Broadway Malyan no longer available, that company having halved in size in the intervening period. Whilst it took four months, Alun persevered with job applications Countrywide as far afield as Cockermouth in the north and Lewes to the south. Finally, in the period of one week he received offers of two temporary six month positions and a permanent position no more distant than three miles from his home. Opting for the permanent position, but mentally treating it as a temporary one until times improved, Alun started work with Level Seven Architects, formerly of the Waterfront at Brierley Hill …and remained there for the best part of 14 years!
Benefitting from his experiences, Alun was one of only three of fifty three of his original college year with sufficient experience to sit his Part III Professional Practice examinations at first opportunity, which he passed and was subsequently Registered by the Architects’ Registration Board and elected to full RIBA membership late in 1993.
Progressing at Level Seven to final position of Senior Associate, Alun’s experience encompassed many prestigious and large scale projects, the Waterfront Office complex at Brierley Hill, St Chad’s Court Offices in Edgbaston, The Fort Retail Park, Kennedy Tower (now Snowhill Plaza) and Regency Wharf leisure complex all in Birmingham to name but a few. Contact with the Clients for these projects, for example, Richardson Developments, Cordwell Group and the Hilstone Corporation were at the highest level.
Alun’s motive in setting up his own Practice was initially to downsize his works, working from home, having always carried out smaller, non conflict of interest projects in his own right. However, the early patronage of property developer and former Client, the late Dick Hickton, who chose Alun for various projects including the extension of his Grade II Listed manor House home, and the onward recommendation by him to other corporate Clients, saw Alun taking on both staff and separate premises (see hands on experience) rapidly thereafter.
The size of the Practice has naturally waxed and waned with workload with various Architects, technicians and students now figuring among the former employees. Alun currently works alone, so Clients are assured of his direct attention at all stages of their projects with no work whatsoever being delegated or sub-contracted to others.
As highlighted above, Alun resigned from the Royal Institute of British Architects in December 2021. Alun had been carrying growing reservations for a number of years about the direction the RIBA had been taking and an e-mail from the now former CEO of the institute, sent to all members just before his attendance to speak at the COP26 event in Glasgow, proved to be the ‘final straw’. In that e-mail the former CEO concluded with a statement that “…the science behind man made climate change is undeniable.” With his background and 40 year interest in climatology, Alun found himself unable to align with this statement on two fundamental principles; first, the scientific method is to continually test and question, and should never be claimed to be undeniable and secondly the evidence put forward that human intervention is causing climate change is challengeable on every front, but as is often the case with preferred narratives, those conversations and debates cannot be had. As a direct consequence of this, building methods are having to change and costs are continually rising, taking us in some instances past the point of beneficial returns. Whilst Alun is committed to energy efficiency and the good design necessary to achieve that, his principles prevent him from supporting bad science and bogus narrative.