How Great Our World Can Be

By Darren Southgate

As our first year came to a close, just as COVID-19 and lockdown landed, we reflected at the time about how proud we are of our year with a series of successes, events, certifications, frameworks and the growth of our team. We’ve even appeared in the AJ!

It would be fair to say, it is the happiest Natalie and I have been in our careers for lots of reasons, even though we have worked around the clock in this year. I’ve always loved this analogy, which a Rolls-Royce engineer once said to me about their jet engine high-pressure blades which have a lower melting point than that of the super-charged air around it, it is like keeping, ‘an ice cube solid in an oven!’ Like the jet engine, Natalie and I are like ice cubes in an oven. Keeping our cool under pressure is what we have done particularly well and even more so in the face of the new threats we couldn’t possibly have anticipated in COVID-19, economic slow-down and a changing paradigm #agileworking.

Launching at MIPIM 2019, now our official birthday, we will make this something to celebrate each year. Our 2020 party was lost to COVID-19 but we’re now looking forward to celebrating our 2nd birthday in 2021! What a celebration that will be.

Our Wigan Pier project is well underway on site, with further phases going through design stages now. Our first modular houses have been designed and in production for this site, with over a thousand homes on our books with modular and bespoke designs, there is more to come – we’re very proud.

Hotels are a growth area for us with schemes for boutiques through to blue chip operators. A real joy to be involved in design -ed schemes with high end interior elements; this leads nicely into theatre restoration and reworking historical buildings. Our heritage portfolio is the most fun part of our portfolio, as redeveloping existing fabric is challenging and requires a degree of care and attention above the norm.

Our advanced manufacturing portfolio is on the move with the design for a 3D printed factory and masterplan schemes for industrialists. Production facilities for industrials is one of our in-depth strengths.

Healthcare Estates has been a surprise and a fabulous addition – a big market for us. Looking forward to developing this part of the portfolio.

Our team has grown around trusted colleagues. Jan our Head of BIM has been central to our success and worked like a trooper. It is fair to say, traditional skills are still valid but when allied with BIM and IT, anything is possible.

Our social scene and team building events in Manchester and London have added to our collective drive and experiences. What a great bunch! Teams or Zoom meetings have been the only way of communicating over distance, protecting each other from COVID-19 in recent times, but hopefully some physical connectivity soon.

And what about 2020-2021! We had planned for two more staff to join us in the first two quarters, planned around our growth. We managed to add one but are having to wait until after the lockdown for the second. Like all businesses we’re having to adapt but as a new entity, we’re in that really strong position of being genuinely very agile and in full control of our destiny.

We have a new venture this year related to our international portfolio and breadth of services, for us this is super exciting, with a great new co-director – watch this space.

Of course, the ‘new normal’ is driving significant enquiries into home offices and living spaces. These can be fun projects at a different scale, equally valid in design discipline and delivery.

As I write this article, I am minded and would like to say what a star my business partner is, many of you in the industry know Natalie and understand why we are successful. This is a big thank you to Natalie for all her hard work with the SASA team and our clients. Natalie is also involved in a charity-based project with a school, helping future generations, how can this be anything other than the most important of activities, to see our kids succeed – well done Nat.

Without sounding like a broken record, be safe and alert out there, think of others and care more than you can imagine about how great our world can be. #dream #manifest


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