Welcome to my website…. I would much prefer to be sitting somewhere explaining to you in person who I am and what I do, but hey, it’s 2013 and we often come across people in the virtual world first, and then get to meet them for real.

Annette Hards, architect and urban designer by training, people-person and eco-warrior by inclination

I work in a range of ways, but, these days, it rarely involves me actually designing a building, space or neighbourhood….

For instance, at the very outset of any project that involves making a physical change to our environment, be it a new building, a refurbishment and/or extension of an existing building and/or space, it is important that the person or organisation commissioning, and probably paying for that change, the client, has a clear understanding of what they want it to do.

The best buildings and spaces grow out of a really clear brief- a description of what is required- and the best briefs are developed with the active involvement of representatives of those who will be living, working or visiting the building- the users.

The best briefs also provide a clear and concise description of the context for that physical change- not just the physical context, but also the social, environmental and policy contexts. In order to make a physical change, it is really important to understand the ingredients you have to start with- every place is different.

This is where I come in- I help the client and the users work together, to really understand the context to create a clear brief, so that the design team, who are commissioned to develop the proposals, get off to the best possible start. I can also help the client get the best, and most appropriate, design team on board at the outset. Later in the process, I can help the client and users interrogate the design proposals, to read and fully understand the plans and other design drawings, enabling them to continue to contribute to the success of the project. Once the new building or space is in use, I can help the client and users to assess how well it is performing, post occupancy evaluation, so that lessons learnt can be reinvested for the future.

So in a nutshell, I use my knowledge as a designer, to help clients and users of buildings and spaces make the best use of their limited resources (time, money, land etc) when they are considering making changes- through helping create a really good brief, and get the best design, for a building or space that works well for those using it, looks great, suits its context, doesn’t use more energy or materials than necessary, and will wear well.

I also have a portfolio of learning programmes and resources around the themes of architecture, urban design, public realm, sustainability, community and stakeholder engagement in the design process- generally tailored for a particular audience, such as local authority councillors or officers, housing association staff, community groups, civic societies or students in schools or higher education.

So, have a look around, and if you would like to talk to me about how I might help you, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you……