EPR Architects has once again scooped the AJ100 Client’s Choice award. The practice has now won the gong 3 times in the last 4 years, reclaiming the top spot from last year’s winner HTA Design.
EPR emerged as the runaway winner after the AJ polled construction clients and asked them to name both a practice with whom they would like to work again, and one they had not yet worked with but would like to.
The architect beat 6 other shortlisted practices, which included 3D Reid, Allies and Morrison and Assael Architecture. EPR is ranked 16th in the AJ100.
Earlier this year I photographed the new London offices of a leading US Investment firm for them.
EPR’s design has successfully reimagined and reinvigorated the office space, creating a high quality, open plan modern working environment with ample features for their staff and visitors.
The reception area has been redefined as a welcoming area that is more akin to being an art gallery than the reception of an investment firm. One wall is clad in cherry wood panels and the others in subdued fabric panels to compliment the incredible Anthony Gormley sculpture and Rebecca Gouldson wall art.
The front of house guest area also includes various meeting options including the boardroom, housing a custom made Ceasarstone table along with Wilkhahn Solo leather conference chairs.
Between the client meeting area and the back of house working environment is a communal kitchen, dining, and informal meeting space. A bespoke oak bench emerges from the timber floor and continues up the wall before forming a ceiling feature as a contrast to the character of the work environment. Above the table is an Ultra 8 by Le Deun feature pendant light.
The open plan working environment offers staff a variety of spaces where they can work effectively, including dedicated desks to meeting rooms of different sizes and comfortable breakout spaces. This is furnished with Knoll Tone Sit Stand workstations throughout with Herman Miller Aeron task chairs.
Attention to detail was central to the design which replaced the heavily repetitive panel ceiling system for a bespoke ceiling solution to each cellular office, integrating a black framed ventilation grill to clearly define the two open plan offices. Within the front of house areas, the ventilation grill is replaced with a black aluminium channel and lighting which connects the spaces and directs guests to the refurbished meeting rooms. This lighting by Kreon highlights key features such as the flamed textured granite wall in the lift lobby, the cherry wood wall in the reception gallery, and the artwork.
Like photography, design is about beauty and content or form and function. All too often photographers and designers seem to be working hard to produce material that is baying for your attention. Sometimes all that is required is a passion for quality, and a high standard of finish showcasing what you are about. EPR Architects have balanced this perfectly.
I am featured as a profile in the current issue of “Fresh” Magazine, a monthly publication produced by Atrium.
Atrium are the UK’s largest independent specialist lighting supplier founded in 1976. Atrium works closely with architects, designers, and engineers to bring the best lighting solutions to the UK’s best designed buildings. I have been photographing with Atrium for over seven years capturing their projects, products, events and even portraits.
The magazine sets out to inform all creatives about what is happening in the world of lighting, architecture, and interior design.
I have the front cover with a picture of Michael Anastassiade’s “Arrangements” shot at the Atrium studio; a seven double page spread about me, my approach to photography and some of the extraordinary projects I have photographed; and then finally there is a recent project of a Highgate Flat featuring FLOS lighting.
It is always great to see my work in print but even more so when it is for a profile which is alongside the work of designer Vincent Van Duysen.
Fresh wanted to show the variety of sectors that I photograph and the range of my creativity in the imagery that I produce. The final selection ranges from the award-winning BBC Langdon Place by HOK to the new ICON Outlet O2 by CallisonRTKL and Hoare Lea. You will also see a couple of details from different Nando’s restaurants by STAC Architecture, and interior photos from, Made Architect’s “Engine” building for UBS, and the incredible tech company headquarters in London by CallisonRTKL.
I was asked to supply a portrait of myself which also somehow showcased my work. I came up with the concept of a self portrait built from a large mosaic selection of individual interior photos.
In times like these it is beneficial to be diverse and adaptable. If you look at my website then you will see reportage, travel photography and portraits for magazines; annual report stock photography, portraits and commercial photography for corporate clients; architecture and interiors for designers; and humanitarian and campaign photography for charitable organisations. I really enjoy the range of work.
I do not think this dilutes my focus, in fact I believe that it is a strength for the people I work with, and for my position in the professional world of photography. I apply the same enthusiasm of seeking to capture the best photos possible for every assignment. This seems to have worked so far, receiving international awards in all sectors of my work.
It means I can supply clients with every aspect of photography. So, as well as photographing interiors and architecture, I can also photograph the designers behind the projects. Here are some of the creatives that I have photographed alongside photographing the architect’s projects.
Numerous headlines have declared the decline, or death, of the high street and, indeed, many facts would seem to support this point of view. 2019 was the worse year on record for British retail. High Street sales fell for the first time in 24 years with 12% of stores now standing empty. In the United States there are about 1,200 shopping malls with one-third of them already failing.
Originally the high street and shopping mall was the centre of activity and social life for many people. With technological and social changes, we are shopping and interacting differently. Our current generation is the most informed and diverse in history, actively seeking out new experiences. High Streets and shopping malls cannot remain a collection of independent outlets that make up a whole, they must become contributing factors that create an experience for the consumer.
I photographed the Mall of Egypt in Cairo for the architects CallisonRTKL and operated by the Majid Al Futtaim Group. Last year CallisonRTKL topped the “Visual Merchandising and Store Design” ranking for the third year in a row. The 280,000-SM Mall of Egypt offers a dynamic mix of activities connected by a series of indoor and outdoor public spaces that respond to the region’s climate and lifestyle.
Located in Cairo’s modern 6th of October district, the retail and entertainment destination is designed to LEED Silver standards and is intended to foster a family-centred sense of community. The two-level centre includes a hypermarket, global flagship retail, a range of dining options, and exceptional entertainment venues including a cinema complex, the first indoor snow park in Africa and Magic Planet entertainment. The centre’s master plan is divided into three themed zones, each designed to complement the other and integrate with the overall 6th of October city master plan: Zone 1 or “The City” is arranged in a series of streets lined with retail and family-friendly public spaces. Zone 2 or “The Desert Valley” has an elegant interior, housing the centre’s upscale department stores, international retailers, and a central courtyard for music and cultural events. Zone 3 or “The Crystal” is characterised by its dynamic lighting and is the mall’s destination for leisure and entertainment.
The Mall of Egypt has been designed as a consumer engagement space with a sense of community created out of the entertainment, experiences, and services which are offered. It is no longer a place for retailers to push out product offerings into a mass market but somewhere which has a pull-marketing approach orchestrated around the needs and interests of an increasingly diverse consumer market, segmented by age, ethnicity and locality.
To succeed in the future the industry will always have to think like the customers it serves. The high street and shopping centre have to create a platform where people engage with brands to facilitate sales in an environment that is conducive to their requirements. There won’t be a “one size fits all” design concept but there will be certain elements that will transcend different shopping centres. Entertainment and the experience will be a key factor along with the dining facilities.
Specifically designed mini cities where people live, and work is one concept foreseen as the future of the mall. These would also feed into the appetite of the increase of consumer tourism of places to visit and shop. What we can foresee is that where we shop in the future will not look like the traditional high street as we know it. It will be an entirely new retail experience—one that will change throughout the year and even throughout the day to keep people coming back for new, fresh experiences. These advancements will affect developers, consumers, retail brands and designers, from the smallest neighbourhood to the most impressive Class-A regional shopping centre. The future of retail is ever-changing and ever evolving and it’s up to developers, retailers and designers to pinpoint what fads will fade and what trends will cement themselves and flourish into the future.
Behind the scenes
Photographing any project abroad has a number of challenges. I always work with the architect / designer and the building management team.
There are three important elements to photographing this sort of project. The first is understanding and appreciating the design of the project through talking with the architect and drawing up a shot list of spaces and features to be captured. After establishing a shot list, we agree on how long the shoot will take and start organising a suitable date agreeable to all parties involved. It is always best to photograph any space as soon as possible to showcase the project and avoid any wear and tear. However, too early after its completion and you may not have all the units filled and subsequently less people visiting. There are also additional considerations of local public holidays or unique events to consider. It definitely pays to speak with the building’s management team.
The third element is the logistics of photographing such a project and working in a different country. There is the obvious consideration of what essential equipment I need to take, where to stay local to the project, visas, weather etc. Then there are the unforeseen challenges that you have to work with, such as equipment failure and illness.
When I first landed in Cairo I had organised being picked up and taken to my hotel. The driver explained how I needed to pay for my visa in either Euros or dollars. I had neither so had to negotiate a local currency rate. On learning that I was a photographer he asked me how much equipment I had and whether I had more than one camera. I always travel within a whisker of the weight allowance with as many bags as permitted. These will contain some extra clothing and a toothbrush but 99% is equipment! My driver proceeded to tell me that of the last two people he had attempted to pick up with film and stills cameras one had been detained for five hours and then allowed to proceed without his equipment and the other had been turned away. Lucky for me we were just waved through.