Meet Stefano Ferrari, architect & associate at Colwyn Foulkes
Based in London SW6, RIBA chartered practice, Colwyn Foulkes celebrates 108 years this year. We catch up with associate, Stefano Ferrari after meeting him on Instagram @ColwynFoulkes.
Stefano, you've been with Colwyn Foulkes for three years, and a practising architect since July 1997 - what are your biggest day-to-day challenges?
I have, and it has been a great experience so far. There are many day-to-day challenges, a substantial one being that we must make sure that our proposals respond creatively to the client's brief and are efficiently delivered at any stage of our involvement. This requires thoughtful consideration of the design options available, as well as an understanding of those cross-disciplinary interactions supporting a well-performed piece of architecture.
Did you always want a career as an architect? Was there anyone who influenced you?
I started considering a career in architecture when I realised that I was not happy with my paintings and wanted something more "architectural". I still look at architectural design in a "painterly" way. Louis Kahn was a big influence in my formative years for his timeless philosophical approach, transcending style and material constraints. He once famously stated that: "A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and, in the end, must be unmeasurable."
What inspires or intrigues you about 21st century architectural achievements?
The optimism of designers in the face of the relative resistance to progress shown by policymakers and developers.
You admire Le Corbusier-designed Maison Curutchet in Argentina, which is one of the 17 sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Do you draw influence from architecture's Modern Movement for your own work?
The modern movement broke free from the past to realign with the technological and cultural aspirations of the era. The architectural discipline should somehow, at any given moment, be in pursuit of that ideal match. When it is only about style, it means that something has been lost in the equation.
What is it about working with Colwyn Foulkes that clients most care about?
We look for answers to the questions that the client has not yet asked.
How do you approach a client brief, and do you think this varies from architect to architect?
As an industry, I believe that we all share a code of conduct, but each has a personal way to find a solution to a problem. We like to think that here at Colwyn Foulkes, the approach is full immersion in the client's brief, to make sure that no design opportunity is hurriedly dismissed at the onset.
How influential are clients or interior designers on the final decisions when it comes to interior finish details?
We believe that a finished building is more than the sum of its parts and we do have a say on the interior design details to make sure everything is tuned and resonates with the spaces we create.
One of your luxury residential projects, nearing completion in September, is the first new build house on Kensington Palace Gardens for 100 years. Which aspects of the project have been the most challenging, and how easy is it to source bespoke product solutions such as electrical wiring accessories?
Designing a new build house in such a sensitive environment is a big challenge. It is a one-off home, quite different and larger than the one that used to be on site. We had to patiently investigate options to blend the building into the surroundings and yet make it look striking enough to stand out. We believe we achieved the right balance, everybody is very pleased with the results and happy to participate in designing and building this project. Although it is easy to source from a vastly advertised market that offers a lot of options, selecting bespoke products is a fine exercise in restraining our choice to accessories that best fit the purpose and are appropriate to each project. At 3 Palace Green, the electrical fittings specified were smart and flexible enough to suit luxurious interiors and to easily control variable lighting scene settings.
Colwyn Foulkes launched its social channels in 2018 - are these integral to sourcing products for your projects?
The social media channels are a great way to showcase our projects and activity as a business. In terms of sourcing products, we do occasionally utilise the platforms, but the channel we utilise the most in this sense is Pinterest, where we create private boards for project teams to be able to share ideas, products, colour schemes and more.
Do find there's a tussle between a desire for the latest trends and practicality when advising clients on how to achieve a project within budget?
This is never really the case, as what we ultimately specify has always to look good, be durable and easy to use.
What's been your most challenging or interesting project to date and why?
Another interesting project, aside from Palace Green, would be Quest-Apartments Liverpool, the first apart-hotel in the UK for Australasia brand Quest. It is a landmark project for Quest in establishing their apart-hotel brand in the UK market. The aim being to grow their business in the UK and provide quality hotel accommodation in Liverpool City Centre.
The hotel is located on Church Street; a major high street in the Main Retail Area of central Liverpool. The design consists of a refurbishment to the current building, alongside a two-storey extension to create 100 apart-hotel rooms. Prior to this, the building was existing retail at ground floor, and an empty office block at levels 1-4.
Our services on this project include full architectural design, obtaining planning, assisting with procurement and tender/construction on a D&B contract. We are working with an existing 1950s building, incorporating a contemporary two storey extension, and a lightweight, bronze clad structure.
Where do you see the future of architecture in light of evolving smart home technology and the quest for improved sustainability?
Increasingly mass-manufactured and affordable technological solutions will result in more smart and sustainable buildings. Investors and decision makers must boost this trend, to ensure the construction industry keeps advancing its procurement and delivery methods.
What would your advice be to the next generation of aspiring architects?
To never lose sight of the architect's role amongst specialisms and never forget that we (mostly) design for people.
*All images courtesy of Colwyn Foulkes. Please visit Colwyn Foulkes to discover more.