Technical Study: Blows Yard, London

BlowsYard-02_©PaulRaftery

Did taking on the project management role for a tricky London site help Cullinan Studio deliver a higher-quality project?

Tucked away into the narrow medieval streets around London’s Borough Market is a project that perhaps marks a return to the glory days when architects yielded considerable influence over how jobs turned out. Architects have largely been superseded by dedicated project managers and the rise of design-and-build contracts where the contractor is king. Not only have architects lost control but their fee income has suffered too.

Blows Yard bucks this trend. It is the last of four buildings arranged around Winchester Square, the site of the medieval Winchester Palace, that have been designed by Cullinan Studio. Blows Yard includes three apartments arranged over four storeys with the uppermost a duplex with a roof terrace. It is a fiendishly difficult site – not only is it bordered by buildings on three sides, but the ground level is largely occupied by an electricity substation and a restaurant kitchen. It is this complexity that made the client opt for a dedicated project manager and ask Cullinan to take on the role as it already had a good understanding of the project. “It would have been very difficult to parachute someone in as the job was so fiddly and specific, so the client asked us to take it on,” explains Cullinan partner Nathan Breeze. 

“The site is pretty tight and needed some non-standard construction sequences, which is where the need for a project manager came in”

Nathan Breeze, Cullinan Studio

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