Architect Pitch with HUB and WhiteHat (video)

Tuesday 15th September, 2020 | 18:30

Glasgow-based practice O’DonnellBrown has won the Architect Pitch held last week in central London.

The young practice’s director Jennifer O’Donnell showed a series of self-initiated projects, including an outdoor classroom, impressing the panel with its understanding of how young people have been impacted by the pandemic.

The panel was made up of Robert Sloss, CEO of HUB; Pooja Agrawal, assistant director of Strategy Service at Homes England; Georgia Young, a WhiteHat apprentice at Mace; Euan Blair, Co-Founder & CEO of WhiteHat and Damien Sharkey, Managing Director, HUB.

HUB and WhiteHat asked seven architects for ideas to address the needs of young people including better access to career training and networking opportunities.

Jennifer told the panel: “Our younger generation cannot be forgotten as we move into the post-pandemic world…their needs are changing and so too are the needs of the city dweller in response to both the pandemic and the climate emergency.”

Damien Sharkey said: “Developing new ideas is integral to HUB and we began our collaboration with Euan Blair and his apprenticeship company WhiteHat when we realised both organisations saw an opportunity for new forms of housing that could make a tangible difference to life-chances, particularly for younger people starting out in their careers.

“The advent of Covid added new urgency as it became obvious that people from disadvantaged backgrounds were being worst affected by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and more was needed from housing, post-pandemic. Hence we partnered with Archiboo on a competition for fresh ideas for housing to enhance life-chances.

We are thrilled with our winners O’DonnellBrown. We were so impressed with Jennifer’s pitch which focused very much on young people and providing places where they can grow and flourish.

‘Having said that, it was an extremely close competition and we will be following up with everyone shortlisted to hear more about their ideas.”

O’DonnellBrown set up seven years ago. It was a finalist in the 2019 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award and will also feature in the fourth edition of the Architecture Foundations New Architects series.

The other pitchers were Katy Marks, Citizens Design Bureau; Meredith Bowles, Mole Architects; Ian McKnight, Hall McKnight: Joe Morris, Morris+Company; Kristofer Adelaide, KAA and Jessam Al-Jawad, Al-Jawad Pike.

The Architect Pitch attracted 52 submissions from practices across the UK.

The winning practice will be invited to work with HUB on a forthcoming housing development.




HUB delivers thoughtfully-designed homes and places that help create positive, sustainable communities and pioneers new approaches, from deal-structuring to design and delivery. A previous Archiboo Pitch resulted in the winner and several shortlisted practices working with HUB.

The developer has 4,100 homes completed, under construction or submitted for planning UK-wide. These include new homes in Croydon, Greenwich, Wembley and White City and mixed-use schemes in Maidenhead and Birmingham – with more expected to be added to the pipeline in the next few months.


WhiteHat is a tech start-up co-founded by Euan Blair and Sophie Adelman with a mission to open up access, training and jobs to the best careers via a new generation of apprenticeships fit for the future economy. WhiteHat matches diverse non-graduate talent with apprenticeship opportunities at some of the UK’s most exciting companies, and works with employers to upskill their existing teams in Data Analytics and People Leadership.

Key trends to consider:

  • One-third of 18 to 24-year-old employees have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six prime-age adults (Resolution Foundation).
  • Just 48% of 18 to 24 year olds living in towns are satisfied with their home – according to new research from the Quality of Life Foundation
  • The pandemic and accompanying recession is limiting the social mobility prospects of under-25-year olds disproportionately, according to the Centre for Economic Performance
  • There are 800,000 young people aged 16 to 24 in the UK not in employment, education or training.



The challenge is to convince HUB and WhiteHat you are a practice they would enjoy working with, have lots of fresh ideas and understand both companies’ ethos and approach.

Part of the presentation should include ideas for urban housing that addresses the challenges posed by the pandemic with particular focus on:

  • Community and networking – how can design foster learning from peers, team working and the networks that are formed at university?
  • Working from home
  • Good quality outdoor space



Applications are now closed.



Pooja Agrawal (top left)
Pooja is co-founder of social enterprise Public Practice, and co-host of the new initiative Sound Advice. She is an architect who has worked in the GLA's Regeneration Team and for practices including Publica and We Made That. She is a fellow at the Institute of Innovation & Public Purpose and a member of DSE Review Panel.

Robert Sloss - CEO, HUB (top right)
Robert’s entrepreneurship has been pivotal in the establishment of a series of investment and development companies within the SquarestoneHUB group. He has originated and delivered a wide range of projects in residential and commercial real estate in a career spanning over 25 years, working alongside friend and long-term business partner Tim Barlow for the past 15 years.

Georgia Young (bottom left)
Georgia is a WhiteHat apprentice at Mace where she provides support and co-ordination in the organisation and delivery of the company's central Emerging Talent and Development Programmes. She is also studying towards her Level 4 Project Management Qualification.

Euan Blair - Cofounder & CEO of WhiteHat (bottom right)
Euan is the Cofounder & CEO of WhiteHat, a tech startup building an outstanding alternative to university. Prior to founding WhiteHat, Euan was the UK CEO of Sarina Russo Group, an employment and training provider with more than 1,500 staff worldwide and a turnover exceeding £100 million.

Damien Sharkey (bottom left)
Damien is HUBs Managing Director leading the development process from acquisition and funding through design, consultation, planning, procurement, delivery through to completion. An architect by background, Damien remains passionate about design and ensures maximum value through thoughtful design, technical accuracy and efficient delivery for all of HUBs portfolio.