AUB’s next generation of architects seek inspiration from firms leading works at Bobby’s Bournemouth

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: February 14, 2024 | Updated: 4th March 2024

Just shy of 60 lucky third year Architecture students at Arts University Bournemouth descended on Bobby & Co recently to hear from those leading the renovation works on the old department store.

The iconic building is currently undergoing a significant renovation to the top floor and façade in an ongoing effort to restore Bobby’s to its former glory.

Students were treated to four 30-minute sessions with the project’s construction and consultant team, followed by a Q&A and behind-the-scenes tour of the site.

Among the presenters were Ashley Harris of Spetisbury Construction, Matt Allibone of Whitefox – Chartered Surveyors, and Mike Ford of Footprint Architects, all of whom have been closely involved in the work for their client, Verve Properties.

Ashley HarrisAshley opened the proceedings: “Bobby’s seeks to curate and assemble a diverse collection of products, activities and experiences which cannot be obtained on the internet.

“In so doing, it focuses on what is local, what is sustainable and puts the community at the heart of it.

“We believe Verve deserves praise as they’re investing in the existing building, putting something back into the community, reusing something that is already here.

“If they hadn’t acquired the building, there wouldn’t be many other people who would take on such a project in need of so much work.

“It would always be simpler and easier for a developer to take out-of-town premises where there’s a greenfield site and the construction costs are much easier to control.”

Ashley went on to detail the scope of works being undertaken, including the demolition and re-roofing works, installation of new steel fire escape staircases and refurbishment of the rear fourth floor to form new offices.

The refurbishment of the rear fourth floor was also outlined, emphasizing the transformation into modern and functional office spaces. As the project unfolded, it became apparent that the complexities of construction were being navigated with precision and attention to detail, ensuring a seamless integration of new elements into the existing structure.

In the context of the construction project, the importance of roof service stood out prominently. Addressing the critical aspect of maintaining the integrity of the premises, the team prioritized a comprehensive approach, incorporating services like Roof Inspection & Repair in Mobile County. This initiative underscored the commitment to ensuring the longevity of the building while aligning with the broader goals of sustainability and safety. By seamlessly integrating roof services into the overall project plan, the developers demonstrated a strategic and forward-thinking approach to construction, recognizing the significance of a well-maintained and secure building envelope.

Matt AlliboneNext up came Matt, who described the project management and cost consultancy role of Whitefox – Chartered Surveyors while delving into the challenges associated with such a major contract.

“One of the key things to achieving and delivering a successful project is excellent communications and continuous and regular interactions with the different and diverse mix of stakeholders involved”, he said.

“These include the design team, construction team, local authority and building control, tenants, neighbours, and members of the public, to name a few.”

Matt also stressed the need to “listen, engage and be proactive in terms of thinking ahead as to what the risks and challenges could be in a project.”

Finally, Mike from Footprint Architects talked to the students about how the Bobby’s project seeks to meet what today’s communities want from their high street – inspiring interiors, points of interest, social spaces and interactions in beautifully designed buildings.

Mike Ford“From an early stage in the project we’ve worked across all parts of the development – concept designs, planning applications, building control, construction drawings and site assistance”, he said.

“It’s been a very complicated management process throughout the building as we’re working across various phasing projects at different work stages.

“One key complexity is the historic nature of the building, with a ‘locally listed’ façade which brings a raft of additional planning requirements.

“It’s also built over four different periods in the last 100 years, with various buildings, extensions, and renovations.

“All the buildings are therefore different construction types, with different requirements and performances.

“It’s been a huge challenge to marry these all up. We’ve probably had around 7 planning applications to date.”

Then it was time for the AUB visitors to don their hard hats and high-vis bibs for a behind-the-scenes tour.

Students Wilf Reynolds and Anton Parsons

Student Anton Parsons said: “We have an educational project this term where we design a new frame structure.

“Seeing the new frame structures installed on the Bobby’s site is really helpful to see how it all aligns with the steel and the timber and how it all works together.

“It’s been a great visit!”

Senior lecturer Melanie Kaviani added: “It’s been brilliant to be here with our students.

“Listening to and seeing the consultants working together and their collaborative approach is insightful for the students – it gives them a snapshot of all that we are teaching them, from inception to completion of a project.

“This is not usually seen, so it’s a great exercise for them.”

For now, work on Bobby’s continues, with pizza oven business Gozney recently moving into a spot on the third floor.

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