Client Testimonials

‘We’re delighted to have delivered our first project for Chesterfield Royal Hospital, on time and on budget. As a Design & Build award, we opted to retain the services of the client’s consultants. The architect, Southgate & Sarabia were fantastic. 

Right from the start they were keen to work with Stepnell. Their approach is perfectly balanced – whilst protecting the clients design brief /scope. They were very flexible, understanding and accommodating on how best to achieve this from a contractors perspective, without losing quality. Their team, led by Connor Casey, were always willing to listen, challenge and offer solutions that helped us maintain an on time, on budget project. 

We look forward to working with Southgate & Sarabia again’



‘Southgate & Sarabia Architects provided outstanding service throughout the planning and construction of our new café and education centre.  They produced designs which resulted in wonderful buildings which sit perfectly in the Farm’s setting and have proved hugely popular with those that use them. With its south-facing panoramic windows, our café is a bright, vibrant space that visiting families love.  Across the lane, our education building is a welcoming and inspiring space for the students who spend time at the Farm.  

All this has been achieved against an extremely challenging backdrop of tight schedules, limited finances and escalating construction costs.  Southgate & Sarabia Architects were key to ensuring quality was maintained, costs controlled and deadlines met.  They provided advice that was timely, professional and practical, and helped mitigate risks throughout the planning and execution period.  They routinely went above and beyond and the fact that their staff are a pleasure to work with made the entire process far more pleasant than it might otherwise have been.

Simply put, we could not be happier with the end result.  We would not have achieved such successful development – the most significant in the Trust’s 40 year history –  without Southgate & Sarabia Architects. 

Ben Davies, CEO, Whirlow Hall Farm Trust


“I’ve known and personally worked with Darren for well over a decade. From delivering work to managing high performing and dedicated teams he brings a calm and client focused approach to developing schemes for our projects. Working as part of our integrated teams delivering for clients in the manufacturing sector, Darren and his team have been a key part of the repeat work we enjoy from our client base in the sector. They strive to understand the key parts of the clients business so they can advise on innovative solutions to design challenges ensuring that form follows function. I would recommend any client looking for an architect to speak to Darren and his team.”

Mark Grayson, Partner, National Head of Logistics & Manufacturing, Rider Levett Bucknall


“I have worked with Darren for many years in roles both client side architect and also contractor side on design and build schemes. He is a dedicated and committed designer with strong commercial values and customer focus. His knowledge of the market and extent of contacts is enviable and he is always one of my first ports of call if I need an architect, particularly in education or industrial markets.”

John Gittins, Managing Director – Building North, Tilbury Douglas


“Darren has supported the University with cutting edge building design for the last 10 years. Securing work through competition and under Darren’s leadership partnered the University in delivering some of the best manufacturing architecture in the World. The University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, has kick started developments at our Advanced Manufacturing Research Campus. The site has recently seen the opening of a Boeing Aerospace manufacturing facility adjacent to our development. This is made possible by the advanced manufacturing research excellence and world class buildings located together. Darren has played a big part in delivering our vision.”

Keith Lilley, Director of Estates, The University of Sheffield


“Working with Southgate and Sarabia Architects has been a breath of fresh air. They are pragmatic, passionate, open-minded and willing partners in every scheme we have worked with them on and will enjoy working with them and their unique approach on future schemes.”

Harinder Dhaliwal, Managing Director, Step Places


“I have worked with Natalie and Darren for over 10 years on a diverse portfolio of projects. Every challenge is taken on and overcome in a professional manner. Combining creative drive and commercial sense is a rarity in this industry yet it becomes a seamless task for Southgate & Sarabia Architects. I look forward to continuing a working relationship on many more exciting projects.”

Gareth Smith, Development Director, Step Places


From the outset, Natalie proved to be a genuine asset to North Tyneside’s BSF programme….Coupled with a patient, listening approach, she gained quickly the trust of the BSF team and, crucially, that of the schools. Within a very short time, she demonstrated successfully her leadership qualities in helping schools through the many unknowns of a complex process quite alien to their day jobs.

Through the many development and design meetings held with the schools, one of Natalie’s most evident skills was in helping to interpret difficult technical issues in a meaningful way. She often made this appear easy by her use of materials and analogies, as necessary, helping also to enable schools to play their part fully and not get ‘left behind’ in the process.  One example of Natalie’s key inputs to the programme was the tremendous support she provided to the authority’s sustainability strategy for BSF, also working with us to plan a highly successful Sustainability Workshop.”

Iain Bentham, Senior Manager, Capital Planning, North Tyneside Council


“I know how highly regarded you (Natalie Sarabia-Johnston) were by both North Tyneside Council and the individual schools and I am sure that they will wish to convey this. The combination of your technical expertise and skills and the ability through your personality to relate to a diverse audience of stakeholders is (in my 30 year experience of the industry) a rare attribute in the architectural profession.”

Steve Ball, Faithfull and Gould, North Tyneside, BSF Project Manager


Throughout the project Natalie showed dedication and commitment, dealing with a number of design and technical challenges with a “can do” approach. An excellent team player, she understood the key stakeholder aims and objectives and sought to accommodate these against the background of constraints imposed by the building contract and demanding project timescales. Natalie was, at all times, an excellent team player, much liked by her team colleagues.  As Project Manager and Employer’s Agent, I very much enjoyed working with her and much valued her dedication and commitment which was instrumental to the success of the project”.

David Herford, Gardiner and Theobald, Project Manager, Northumbria University


“What a fantastic volunteer! Darren has been an absolute professional is helping us navigate the sensitive considerations for restoration and possibilities for re-purposing our listed Oasts Houses and redundant farm buildings. Above all he really listened to our ideas, contributed and guided us in a way that felt easy and pragmatic.”

Zoe Colbeck, General Manager, National  Trust

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