As architects with a particular penchant for the residential sector, amongst others, we believe that it is essential to be at the forefront of sector changes – especially in one as fluid and ever-changing as the residential sector. As such, we pride ourselves on the knowledge, that we possess, of the changing market – and we also pride ourselves on having those residential sector specialists who work within our practice.
Throughout our company, we foster a culture of collaboration, idea sharing, peer-to-peer mentorship and cutting-edge research into this evolving sector and its fluctuating market trends. One such trend, which we have been following closely since its inception, is that of the Build to Rent, or BtR, sector.
The BtR sub-sector of the residential and housing sector is still a relatively new concept within the construction and design industry, and it is something that we at Bond Bryan are very excited about; none more so than our BtR research and development leader, Tomasz Romaniewicz.
Tomasz joined Bond Bryan’s Sheffield studio back in 2017, quickly establishing himself as a driving force within the practice and pushing Bond Bryan deeper into the residential sector.
With a colourful history as a globetrotting Development Consultant and Senior Architect, Tomasz has worked at the forefront of the housing and regeneration sectors for major design and architecture practices in London, Germany, and Belgium.
As Deputy Chair of the Member Engagement Team of Sheffield Property Association – and a chaired member on the RIBA’s Yorkshire Housing Panel – Tomasz’s expertise and advice has guided many different residential developers, local authorities and government agencies in developing doctrines for mass-scale, high density housing and urban regeneration schemes.
Now, looking to the future, Tomasz has been playing an active role in driving the BtR market forward; so we sat down with Tomasz to ask him a few questions about the BtR sector and the journey that bought him here.
Two things really – it’s the passion I have for people and for place. I’ve never really been interested in the fundamental technical aspects of building, but more around architecture’s role as a tool within the city, that can be used as a social medium rather than something simply focused on the building or design.
It really seems to encompass all of the aspects of architecture and property development that I enjoy. In one sense, the innovative and pioneering nature of the sector is what inspires me: whether those are innovations born through building design, technology, Modern Methods of Construction or how the BtR sector itself drives these innovations throughout residential architecture as a whole – such as lifestyles and new ways of living – particularly within the UK. Similarly, the BtR sector also encompasses everything that I enjoy about architecture and development: unlocking sites, the reason why development can happen, and equally how – as a design medium – it is very attractive to investors. This is something often overlooked. All in all, the way in which the sector embodies the wider infrastructure of architecture and property is, ultimately, what I find so attractive about it.
Oh – it’s absolutely essential right now. From a regeneration perspective, BtR thrives when it is the first component of a wider placemaking framework – often becoming viable before other land uses take shape. This resilience isn’t just specific to the urban regeneration market, though – it relates, on the same level, to suburban housing where BtR suburban models are evolving to meet new lifestyles and end-user needs. It’s also very important for town centres as I think it’s going to play a key part in redefining the high street in a post-Covid world.
Know your market place, know your location and quality of amenities and understand your target resident – satisfied tenants equal longer tenancies which is the key to maximising your yield. The ultimate goal should always to be deliver highly-efficient building – one that supports effective operational management and has a unique sense of place that enhances overall resident experience. A sharp eye for detail and nuances is also key – for example, the placement of bin stores or post boxes can dramatically impact the building’s operational management causing unnecessary problems and costs further down the line. One of BtR’s greatest strengths is its ability to connect to the public realm and both internal and external amenity space. More and more now, post Covid-19, we will be seeing a greater emphasis on this.
We’re working on a Sheffield city centre BtR ‘gateway’ scheme that will form part of a major masterplan and be a key next step for Sheffield’s regeneration.
We’re also getting involved in the ‘sequel’ to BtR – Co-Living – which is going to be an exciting sector as it develops and grows.
Besides those, we’re also early on in our proposals for regeneration schemes in Yorkshire and the North West, with BtR at their core, and also in continuing our growth in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Likewise, we’re also shortlisted for what will be the largest single-phase delivered BtR scheme in the UK: this is testimony to the industry-leading delivery methodology which we’ve been working on that maximises building efficiencies, enhances design and construction team coordination, reduces time on site and explores innovative construction and delivery models. All of these things are absolutely essential to making BtR viable nationwide and they’re always at the core of all the work we’re doing.