Sustainability Impacts | Q&A with HPA Director

Richard Wooldridge (BArch (Hons) Dipl Arch RIAS RIBA AssocRTPI) is Director & Architect at HPA and specialises in master-planning and concept designs. We spoke to Richard to find out a bit more about him, his role, and some surprising facts! Here’s what Richard said…

What sparked your interest in Architecture?

I was obsessed with LEGO as a kid, and my mother was an Interior Designer.

What is a usual day like for you at HPA?

Usually very busy! My role involves managing workloads and helping our team; so I can sometimes deal with between 10-20 jobs in a day, often answering design or planning queries.

Generally, my role is to add that extra bit of experience or insight which can unlock a design problem, or help to improve a project. My job also involves meeting lots of other people from clients, to other building professionals and contractors, so there’s never a dull moment!

What is your favourite project out of all you’ve worked on?

That’s impossible to answer! There are some standout tricky planning projects I enjoyed over the years, such as the new houses in the Green Belt at Seisdon in Staffordshire, or the repurposing of many former Agricultural and Industrial Sites we’ve done over the years. 

Squire House was a significant project for the practice as we learnt so much in terms of how to design an Eco-House, whilst using an Oak Frame. We were also shortlisted for a prestigious RIBA Award. 

Recently there’s the work we’ve done on the Concept Masterplan for the Frontierland Site in Morecambe; which really showcases the skills we have in the practice.  

There are also numerous other projects over the years where we have made a few minor tweaks to houses which have helped make some major positive improvements for our clients. 

How does the growing need for sustainability impact your work?

Sustainability has impacted our work for a long time. HPA were one of the first practices in the North-West to sign up to the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge; which is a statement of intent on our part.

The frustrating thing is that the building industry and the decision makers have been slow to react to the need to reduce carbon in the construction process. I was being taught about the need to design low carbon buildings back in the mid-1990s, and here we are in 2022 having a similar conversation! 

It’s encouraging how more clients are asking how we can help to make their buildings as low carbon as possible. We do already have considerable experience in this area, but the technology and legislation is constantly developing; so we’re currently investing in new software and specialist training.

2022 should provide a step forward for the construction industry when the new Building Regulations which contain increased thermal standards finally arrive. However, I am concerned that the proposed Buildings Regulations don’t go as far as they should…

What is something we might not know about you?

I’m currently the Chair of RIBA North-West. I also played keyboards in a rock band for a few years until the family appeared. I used to design stage sets for a couple of the theatre groups at University, and I helped crew a show at the Edinburgh Fringe – which I really enjoyed. I still love going to see Musicals – I’m off to see Les Misérables later this month!

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Richard! 

Meet our team: https://www.hpa.ltd/about-us/meet-the-team/

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