We want architects who understand our problems

6 June, 2019

The classic shortcoming in architects who have presented at the Archiboo Pitch is “a lack of genuine belief in what they are doing”, according to Nick Searl, partner in Argent Related.

Searl, who is on the panel for the next Architect Pitch, was one of the key panellists on the 2017 Architect Pitch that took place at Argent’s King’s Cross headquarters.

“The common mistake is when people are not confident enough. What I am looking for is people who present well – that’s really, really important. But it’s not one of the things that architects are necessarily trained to do. They may well learn to do ‘crits’ but not ‘this how you sell your ideas’, he said.

“And the terrible thing is that it’s not necessarily the best designers who are the best communicators – and that can work the other way around of course.”

Did he think that the pitching experience helped architects get a better understanding of the wider development process?

“I think this is important. To be honest, when clients employ architects, they don’t employ them for their all their business knowledge – they are not being employed for that skill. But when someone comes in to present and understands what your problems are, showing that they are not just good architects but understand the challenges – that can be impressive.”

Of being on the Archiboo Pitch panel, Nick admitted “I really, really enjoyed it. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do for the architects. You have a short period of time before a professional panel from a variety of different backgrounds. It’s tough but also a great experience.

“What impressed me most when I was on the panel before is when there is an authority and energy. It’s hard to put your finger on it. It’s when it’s both personal and passionate – so different from when you suspect that someone doesn’t quite believe in what they are saying.

“And quite often it’s when someone explains why they have done this or that, as opposed to what they have done. We can all explain what it is but when someone says ‘I have come at it from this perspective’ and nails the why – that’s very compelling. It’s always powerful because it’s also often quite personal.”

For this pitch, Nick says he is looking forward to “people pitching from areas that mean something to them, and from the perspective of how to start redesigning the perception of things, I suppose creating new perceptions, new ideas in say, the challenges of the High Street – that’s a really important one. And I am very interested in how to address the homelessness issue.”

And if an architect came up with a cracking idea, what are the chances Argent might end up backing it?

“Who knows?” said Nick. “If someone has a really good idea and we are looking in the same areas, we might potentially follow it up, whether that means taking the research further or whatever. It depends on what we are working on at that moment.”

The Architect Pitch – Crossing Boundaries with HOK London is on June 27th. 

For more information including how to apply to pitch please click here.