We often think of traditional services as ancient and backdated or very rigid and set in stone, but, as we shall see in this article, that isn’t always the case. New architectural firms and design studios are emerging with a fresh way of approaching design process management and how it solves the existing problems, not only for the client but also for the architectural firm and the end users. In this article, the podcast, Innovating Traditional Architecture, shall be reviewed.
About Business of Architecture UK Podcast
Business of Architecture UK Podcast seeks to make architectural firms all over the world experience freedom, fulfilment and financial profit. They interview many reputable architectural figures all over the world just to get a holistic view of how their professional practice has progressed over time. Business of Architecture Podcast also provides an avenue for upcoming architects to learn from both the mistakes and triumphs of others.
Introducing the Guest of the Podcast
In this Business of Architecture podcast, episode 181, which was sponsored by Smart Practice Methods, Rion Willard, the host, through the facility of zoom call, interviews Charles Alexiou, an interior designer from Sydney, Australia. Charles Alexiou is the co-founder of both Papas Alexiou and MCM homes. He initially completed a degree in Nuclear Physics and Applied Mathematics before changing fields to Interior Design. He started his first independent firm in 1990.
The Origin of Pappas Alexiou
Upon enquiry by Rion, Charles revealed that Papas Alexiou was created in 2016. His cousin, Lam Papas, who was an architect then based in Greece, Europe got in contact with him again. Due to the difficult times in Greece then, Lam wanted to branch out and seek new opportunities. Charles thought it would be a great idea if they could combine their expertise in the building industry and make something out of it. And that was how Papas Alexiou was born.
Getting Clients at the Start
At the beginning of the establishment of Papas Alexiou, they both already had quite the experience and contacts in each of their fields. In the profession of architecture, there exists stiff competition in getting a few high-end projects. However, instead of clamouring for the sparse new and from-scratch projects, Charles and Lam decided to initially focus on their existing contacts. Thus, they got jobs when referrals from past clients came through or if their past clients wanted a renewal of their already existing projects.
Priority for Clients in Terms of Design Services
Charles Alexiou further went into detail about what the priority of clients are in terms of residential buildings. Do they spend more on the structure and exterior than they do on interior design? While this question might seem ambiguous, Charles explained why most times clients tend to go for what gives an impression of comfort and affluence even though it might cost more. The spend is oftentimes disproportionate.
Challenges of Traditional Services: Client’s Expectations
There is something rampart with architects during a design project. The juggling back-and-forth can become very frustrating. There is a point where clients just list out their wants. “We want a five-bedroom, two-storey house,” they say. But the truth is clients do not think of the mounting cost and the local building council’s requirements in terms of vertical height limit and easement and setbacks.
There is therefore this strain of relationship when two conflicting scenarios from both parties in the design project clash. Charles Alexiou, in this podcast, explains why it is so common and difficult for both parties to endure these situations.
Challenges of Traditional Service: Environment Based
We are all aware that buildings evolve to conform to their environment in terms of climate, vegetation, terrain etc. Charle Alexiou went ahead to explain how, over time, the system of things in the Australian environment has changed and how this affected how buildings were designed. He also explained the way migration has affected the way buildings are being designed to allow for the integration of the migrants into the system and also interaction with others in the community.
The MCM Homes Concept
The Mid Century Modern style was birthed after the second world war. This was a time of hope, peace and optimism. Thus, there were new building elements introduced:
- Bigger openings to foster interest in the outdoors.
- Indoor courtyard to capture natural light and sun energy for heating the house during winter.
- Passive solar designs
In this podcast, Charles Alexiou reveals what drew him to this style and how he came to incorporate it into a business model that is now an offshoot of Papas Alexiou.
In summary, MCM homes is a system that utilizes 90% pre-designed homes classified based on standard lot sizes. The client picks their preferred choice from the catalogue. The client then sits with the architect and interior designer to put the finishing touches such as roof, facade design etc. to the selected buildings.
They are given an upfront one-fixed price (which includes the architectural and permit fees). With this, clients can go get loans and mortgage plans from their banks or other financial institutions with a definite price that will not change in the future. Also, the architect is assured that the cost covers their service fee. This makes the work concrete—a win-win for both parties.
How MCM Homes Integrates a Comprehensive Solution to the Traditional System
The establishment of MCM homes solves many problems. Charles Alexiou explained how MCM homes has improved the way they present the traditional projects in the mother company, Papas Alexiou, even though the process remains relatively the same. This is both time-saving and cost-effective.
All in all, this particular podcast episode dives deep to show how architectural firms like MCM homes and Papas Alexiou are constantly creating innovations to make the whole building industry a much better world both for the users, the client and the professionals, especially in terms of innovating traditional services.
You can download this episode through the following links:
Apple podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/181-innovating-traditional-services-with-charles-alexiou/id1377750226?i=1000581131758