An update from Starki’s Principal Director

It’s been a while

First and foremost, thanks for keeping up to date with us. I’ve been asked by a few folk on our social media channels where our usual output is and, truth be told, we’ve simply not had the time to sit down, reflect and write our experiences in this way for a while – since the 9th of August to be exact – and that was just a press release.

Keen-eyed followers of Starki will have noticed two new additions to our press and awards banner to commemorate our award for Change-of-Use Architecture Practice of the Year at the Corporate LiveWire Global Awards 2020 and Leading Providers of Quality, Bespoke Architectural Design & Services 2020 at the SME News 2020 Welsh Enterprise Awards. This brings our total awards to four in 2020, owing to the tremendous work that’s gone into establishing Starki as a permanent fixture among the best Architectural Practices in South Wales.

Not content with running a successful Architectural Practice, after our concept to use shipping containers as a low-carbon form of construction to create pop-up business districts hit the headlines in July, I had enough enquiries to know that we were onto something incredible and so began our first in-house project, FR8PK.

With an all-singing-all-dancing website to boot, we formed a founding team and set about creating a new destination for shopping, eating and enjoying through activity in Swansea. Realising very soon on that our approach to the project needed to fall in line with its vision to lead by example, I took the decision to form FR8PK as a social enterprise and – even bolder – make it a non-profit company so that profits would go toward the FR8PK community. No investors, no pension funds – if we’re going to do this, we’ll do it right and with the interests of local business owners and the economy on the receiving end of its success.

FR8PK is now growing its team, offering those with the skills and talent to be part of the Non-Executive Team, who’ll advise the organisation’s Executive on how best to steer the social enterprise in its future strategy. Applications have been open for two days and it seems that we may have to put on more interview slots because the quality so far is outstanding. We’re expecting a high number of applications but it’ll be candidates with the most genuine passion for what we do, coupled with top calibre experience and knowledge who’ll be selected to meet with us to demonstrate their qualities. Check out the application pack if you think you have the right stuff.

Speaking of outstanding, since launching the website we’ve already received enough Expressions of Interest to occupy over half of our expected units. It goes to prove that our concept is exactly what Swansea’s businesses and communities have been crying out for. We’re ironing out some creases in the paperwork regarding our first site and once this is done we’ll begin boarding businesses who can demonstrate their suitability to be part of the FR8PK Neighbourhood.

For anyone who’s new to the concept, I designed an illustration showing the way in which the organisation works. All that needs adding is that we’re using low-carbon construction in the form of shipping containers to assemble the project. We’ll then design a bespoke timber building to connect every container and its units to the site, creating a ‘neighbourhood‘ of small, local, independent businesses.

I have along-overdue list of people I need to thank for helping us to achieve what we have so far. A logbook post isn’t the place for it and the assistance and time deserves much more grandeur, so I’ll save this for another time. We’re also in the middle of negotiations on a number of big sections of the puzzle that are still confidential and I don’t want to thank a few here and a few there. You know who you are and you’re making FR8PK grow bigger and better every day.

A by-product of all this work is that Starki’s received many enquires asking whether we design container homes. The simple answer is “yes” as we’ve always designed using a range of both traditional and bespoke construction methods. I’ve always designed with my head, steering away from bespoke conceptual work which, in the short-term, doesn’t help business boom. But, on reflection, I have to ask whether this will make me happy moving forward. It’s possibly time to begin designing more from the heart. Watch this space.

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