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Jonathan Crossley talks about his work on automotive projects

Jonathan Crossley has been with us for 5 years. Having recently graduated from the University of Bath he is now a fully-fledged architect. Congratulations, Jonathan!

He describes some of the automotive work he has been involved with at SRA.

What do you enjoy most about working on motor retail projects?

There is an excitement and energy about working in the motor retail sector. A lot of this has to do with the fast pace which our clients iterate their brands. As their brand evolves, we are presented with some really interesting design challenges.

Which automotive brands have you worked with?

I have worked on projects for Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Porsche and Bentley. The projects have been varied; some are new build schemes like Jaguar Land Rover in Ashford, some are refurbishments, like Murray Skoda. Others have been more investigative, like the generic design study that we carried out for Jaguar Land Rover. Here we explored how their improved brand standards could be applied to unusual building types. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate our design approach, and as a result we were invited to be a part of the JLR Framework of Architects.

What opportunities have you had to really push your creative boundaries?

I have taken part in a couple of automotive competitions: Bentley Motors HQ and Audi Goodwood. Although our schemes weren’t chosen, the opportunity to take part had some clear benefits. Both design challenges were fast paced and very creative. I had to think quickly and stretch my knowledge and imagination. I took a lead on these projects, and I know I gained from the experience. I now apply similar approaches to the live jobs I work on.

Bentley Motors HQ

Bentley Motors HQ

Audi Goodwood

Audi Goodwood

What would an average week look like for you?

Unlike other projects which may take a long time to move from drawing board to delivery, working in motor retail is not like that. I have one project onsite under construction, while I am also working on multiple projects which are in early design stages.

This makes for a very varied week. I am working on projects at all different stages. The relationship we have built with our clients means that they have confidence we can deliver each architectural stage to a high standard.

How do you ensure you get the best possible solutions?

Design Reviews are a very important part of every project and take place at each key stage. These are conducted formally with a presentation that is critiqued by colleagues. If we are pressed for time but recognise we need input, we spontaneously gather people around our work stations and share concepts.

What makes my job so enjoyable is the people I work with; I really do feel like I am part of a team.  We collaborate, share ideas, help each other, push creativity – and have fun together. When working on a motor retail project there may be a small team of two people, with Mike Rolfe overseeing the project, as he does all automotive projects. There are multiple mini-teams working on various projects simultaneously. We share experience and help each other with our workload, switching staff in and out depending on skills required at any given stage. I really appreciate this way of collaborative working.

Can you describe your experience of leading  projects?

There is a good, positive atmosphere in the studio, and staff are supported and valued. Personally, I really appreciate the feeling of having freedom to work, learn and lead on projects, while also being supported. I never feel like I am left to deliver a project on my own. Mike is excellent at overseeing all aspects of motor retail projects, from the design to the administration of a project. We are able to deliver the best possible solutions for our client; this is another aspect of my work which I find most rewarding.

What has been your favourite automotive project that you have worked on to date?

I am currently working on a confidential project for a premium car brand, which I am really enjoying. It’s ambitious and is giving me lots of creative opportunities. I look forward to talking about it as it progresses. 

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