MEET THE JUDGES - NIMI ATTANAYAKE
What are you looking forward to most about co-chairing for the Surface Design Awards?
It’s so nice to be returning as a judge this year and I am looking forward to discussing the entries with my other Judges. I am looking forward to an interesting debate about the projects and their merits. It’s a lovely way to spend a morning.
What are you personally looking for in terms of entries?
Re-using existing materials and recycling local materials in order to have less impact on the environment and to address the resource scarcity affecting us all. I would like to see different ways of making spaces that are an outcome of a 'retrofit-and-adapt' approach along with better efficient construction methods and adoption of bio-based materials.
What advice would you give to those looking to submit a successful award?
Always include a narrative about the project and make sure to include as much information, detail and photos as possible.
Why are awards so important to architect and designers?
They are a nice way to celebrate a project and can give a sense of pride to be shared amongst the whole design team including the contractor, sub-contractors, suppliers and clients. They can also be a pivotable moment for a small practice - enforcing good design and celebrating a project can often give more exposure to the Architects and Designers.
What are some emerging trends in materials you’ve noticed?
Materials with an emphasis on re-use or being formed from recycled materials. Bio-based materials and materials with less processing are also becoming more common.
Sustainability is a talking point in every project, what is your experience of successfully delivering sustainable solutions in what you do?
The question of how to create a sustainable project is always at the forefront of our thinking and in these cases, for our clients as well. Central to our approach is a belief that the most sustainable type of project is one that can endure for many years without the need for redevelopment or demolition. Given that on residential projects, over half of the building’s whole-life carbon is emitted during its construction (RICS), making projects that are a specific response to client requirements is at the core of our approach.
The theme of 2024’s Surface Design Show is ‘Mindful Living’, what does that mean to you?
The importance of engaging positively with the people and communities who will use or live close to a project can't be overstated. We feel this is key to make sure the design is tested and meets the various needs of the users. 'Mindful Living’ means projects which directly respond to their context and users and which are unique ensuring longevity.
Recycling and retro-fit needs to become more common and a viable option for clients. It should also be discussed from the outset of the project and become part of the briefing process. This process should bring clients and stakeholders inside the design process - empowering them to understand the challenges and issues that need to be resolved. This can help set a tone of collaboration and co-creation for the rest of the project and allow all to make unusual decisions (e.g. retro-fit and recylcing) a more reasonable approach. Clients need to change their perception of the existing building / house and to recognise the energy already spent, and that which should be retained and maintained to prevent more carbon emissions and damage to our fragile climate.