Audio recording of Nick Freer (b. 1959), Andy Hiorns (b. 1963) and Ken Baker (b. 1941)
The first part of the interview focuses on the interviewees’ work experience, with KB talking about in particular about his experience with Conran Roche. NF talks about the ‘Milton Keynes effect’ on potential clients who assume, because of David Lock Associates’s address, that they are bringing MK to them and compares David Lock Associates with Conran Roche which much did builds its business on the back of the experience of Milton Keynes. Comparing the past with the present they discuss how clients today are looking much more these days for a master planner in a model of an architectural master planner, a big name who can produce ‘big architecture’ and impress local authority planning departments. They comment that some of their competitors started life as architects and have bolted their master planning on, whilst David Lock Associates do it the other way round.
KB initiates a discussion about not understanding where urban designers come from -‘ I’m not sure they really exist… you can understand an architect you can understand a planner, but somewhere in the middle ground someone has invented urban design.’ AF believes that it’s an activity rather than a profession. The conversation turns to criticising some of the big architectural names like Norman Foster, claiming that they are not good urban designers ‘because he just assembles buildings’, and they comment that architects are often not team players, but many clients seem to looking for ‘big architecture’ these days. Discussing the future for firms like David Lock Associates it is mentioned that many large engineering companies are ‘gobbling up’ organisations like David Lock Associates and that being a medium sized company is difficult because you are competing with the small companies and large companies that for different reasons can undercut you. What David Lock Associates has in their advantage is the very long term relationship with clients, including personal relationships between key personnel, who have confidence in them which contrast with other companies’ experience. Another strength is that David Lock Associates crafts a unique project for each occasion because each site is different, whereas with others in the field you know exactly what you’re going to get each time, regardless of the site.
Looking to the future there is still a need for lots of new housing and David Lock Associates is well placed with its clients to do the planning for this.
Asked for words that should appear in the book they mention ‘excitement’ – ‘throughout whatever we’ve done here there’s been exciting times and exciting projects – there’s always exciting things going on ‘. It’s also the people who make up the company, who gell well together and enjoy working with each other, and the driving force for this has been David Lock – ‘David is very open and allows lots of things to happen and lots of other cultural influences to operate, I think it is a very democratic, very respectful sort of organisation where everybody who wants to say anything will be heard, you know, it isn’t dominated in any way.’