Interview with David Tilley, Managing Director
What do you enjoy most about your job?
One of my favourite pastimes is cycling and I do enjoy taking my bike out round our local areas in Cheshire and Shropshire and seeing the positive difference we have made to the built environment and really changed how people live their lives – whether that’s just designing an extension to their family home or a big commercial project.
How has your job changed over the years?
The advent of technology has had a very dramatic impact. In some ways it has increased the levels of bureaucracy and in others it’s transformed the way we can interact with other consultants involved on a project. In many cases it has meant we can deliver better buildings as a result too. However, I do think it has introduced more stress to the job, with expectations of almost instant turnarounds. Developing effective solutions will always take some time to consider in order to get them absolutely right.
Which past project really stands out for you in your career?
Well, my family home where we are bringing up our children is one of my past projects and I’m very proud of that! But that’s a very personal level of satisfaction. In terms of work for our clients, the barn conversions we completed on the Duke of Westminster’s estate in the village of Aldford really stand out for me. The project was much more than creating homes; it created a focal point for the whole village and helped boost the very strong sense of community among the residents. I think that was a really important part of the work, particularly for the older residents.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
I think in our job the biggest challenge is meeting everyone’s expectations. There are a lot of people involved in a building project – the client, their end-users, the neighbours, local authorities. It’s always a balancing act to deliver something that everyone is going to be happy with.
What do you enjoy most about working with existing buildings?
Buildings in need of repair, even buildings of quality, may deteriorate really quite rapidly and when they do they lose an element of their aesthetic power, so intervening and restoring or improving them is really worthwhile and satisfying. It doesn’t matter if it is a flat roof commercial building from the 1960s or an eighteenth century farmhouse – the sense of satisfaction is the same. These days of course, it’s not just about extending a building’s longevity but about making it perform better too, making it more energy efficient.
You do a lot of work with rural estates. What value do you think you can add to the projects you carry out for these very special places?
I feel we strengthen their sense of identity through our architecture and really bring some of the older housing stock back to life. Some of these buildings have been there for hundreds of years. I like to think that when we build new houses on the estates or make changes to older ones, our work will blend in so seamlessly that in a comparatively short space of time, a visitor would have no idea when the most recent changes were made.