Colander News

What was good in 2019 and what 2020 has to offer...


This year we have really enjoyed delivering soft skills training to a wide variety of architectural, engineering and design practices, helping them develop the skills that are so crucial when it comes to ensuring the smooth running of their practices, and their ability to manage and influence their clients.

The diversity of our clients has made the work really enjoyable and has allowed us to develop different styles of working to address each client’s specific needs.


In addition to our leadership, communications and presentation training courses, we are increasingly being asked to facilitate away days and conversations in practices, helping to instigate change. We have facilitated discussions on many topics, from succession planning and organisational culture through to how practices might respond to climate change.


Working as consultants - whether that's a few hours helping a practice define its goals and business strategies or a more vigorous business review - we have helped more and more practices, both in the UK and internationally, develop and achieve their aspirations. Our aim is to to help them understand the markets in which they are working, as well as making improvements to their internal operations, so these can be aligned with their architectural ambitions.

This year, we have been especially active in advising practices on the cultural and management implications of Employee Ownership, which is becoming increasingly popular with professionals working across the built environment but which is not without its challenges.


As a team we are constantly thinking how we can support and shape the built environment.

We are proud to have been involved in setting up Architects Declare, raising awareness of climate and biodiversity emergencies, which now has over 800 practices signed up in the UK, and has spawned similar networks in 13 countries across the world, as well as in other built environment professions.

Additionally, the Equilibrium Network, that we set up a few years ago to promote gender diversity and reduce the attrition rates of women in the built environment, is gathering momentum. Caroline Cole, our Director spoke about creating networks at the Women in Construction Summit in May; we organised an Equilibrium Network event as part of the 2019 London Festival of Architecture; and this Autumn held roundtable discussions to share best practice.

We are encouraged to hear that the Hidden Homeless ideas competition that we ran in 2018 has resulted in architects, developers, policymakers and charities coming together as the London based think tank Architects Aware.


This year we have been privileged to work on two wonderful, high-profile competitions: one for Lendlease, looking for an inter-disciplinary team for Smithfield Market in Birmingham and the other, helping Somerset House in London find architects for a new public venue. The winners of both these competitions will be announced in the New Year but suffice to say, we have enjoyed tailoring our services to suit these very different clients and create two very different competitions. It has been gratifying to see the exceptional quality of the responses for both.

We are always encouraged to see our competitions coming to fruition. Most recently, we have heard that Tigg + Coll Architects' lovely home for Theo and Oskar has been completed.

Looking back at competitions that we have organised over the past couple of years, we are delighted to see RIBA National Awards in 2019 for the Dorothy Garrod Building at Newnham College Cambridge by Walters and Cohen and Eddington Lot 1 in Northwest Cambridge by Wilkinson Eyre with Mole Architects for the University of Cambridge.

  • A new home for Theo and Oskar. Tigg + Coll Architects
  • Eddington Lot 1, NW Cambridge. Wilkinson Eyre and Mole Architects. Photo credit: Jack Hobhouse

We were also pleased to hear that David Chipperfield Architects has secured planning for Impact Scotland the new concert venue in Edinburgh, as has Arup, for the Masterplan for the Wellcome Trust’s Genome Campus. Haworth Tompkins Architects has also received planning permission and listed building consent for the Old Press Mill Lane site for Pembroke College, Cambridge.

  • Impact Scotland, Edinburgh. David Chipperfield Architects
  • Wellcome Trust, Genome Campus. Arup
  • Pembroke College, Cambridge. Haworth Tompkins Architects

Looking forward to 2020...

We will continue doing what we already do - but strive to do it even better.

We are always looking for new ways that we can help the industry deliver a better built environment, whether it’s through networks, collaborations, consultancy or training.

We are planning a series of seminars and discussions, exploring a range of topics, starting with 'influencing' and 'storytelling' and we would be interested to know if there are other topics that our clients would like us to address.

Building on the strengths of our existing team, we are adding a number of new Associates to our books, people with an acting background, who have worked extensively in the corporate world. This will strengthen our ability to help our clients develop individual communication skills, in particular, when delivering presentations, dealing with tricky situations, or public speaking.

We look forward to working with our current clients - and new ones - in the coming year.