Architecture is, by vocation, a subjective matter where typically commission decisions are made on design style and ethos. There is rarely a wrong or right solution. Therefore it is important to have a strong understanding of your company values before submitting for projects. At Simone de Gale Architects, work is won through a number of procurement routes and offering a range of services for potential clients. I interviewed Simone to find out more about her client acquisition efforts and business development, as he runs a smaller but very successful practice in one of the most desirable parts of London- Belgravia. Simone will also speak about this particular topic at Disrupt Symposium taking place this spring 1-5th May 19:00 CET virtually. You can purchase your early bird tickets by visiting the event website
As a young architectural practice, Simone de Gale Architects likes to enter competitions which provide opportunities to develop and demonstrate her strong company values and design style. The firm is typically competing as Lead Architect for master plan projects. They find it useful to enter international competitions and target areas in the world which are developing (such as Eastern Europe, Asia and Middle East) and are in search of designers with new innovative thinking and approaches toward sustainability.
“As such, we are able to be creative and ambitious with our design concepts and our clients buy into the design style and innovative approach. This gives us an edge and allows us to compete with high profile, world class architectural practices, which in turn raises our own profile,” says Simone, as a driving force behind the business development efforts in the practice.
In the past year alone, the practice secured two large-scale master plan projects in the role of Lead Architect, expanding the capital of Tbilisi, Georgia. The firm’s reputation has since traveled from Georgia to Croatia and Ukraine, where it’s now developing more large-scale architectural commissions.
This great success was not achieved by sleepless nights and completion of free work. Simone manages her practice such as to find a healthy balance between applying for competitions and other client acquisition activities. She hires a full-time, in-house business developer who strategizes for practice expansion within reason and measurable return on investment. Simone believes it's crucial to plan for how much energy and staff resources a practice can dedicate to free competition entries. If not managed correctly, it can be a downfall to the business. Simone will unravel this topic in further detail during her keynote presentation at Disrupt Symposium in May.
The skill of the architect extends beyond the basics of shell and core design. Architecture can be taken into the public realm and also into the interiors of projects. SDGA learned to start a project with a client providing basic shell and core design services, before moving into an upsale or a second stage of the proposal, which is offering interior design and more. They see that as their investment into the basis of a good client/company relationship and establishing experience working together, which with good standing, then leads to providing further design services for the same project. This can include courtyard and design of external spaces relevant for the project, interior design packages, and procurement of bespoke furniture and fittings. Simone believes in providing her services with added value as that opens opportunities for referral and recommendation to similar projects.
It is important to know exactly what you are bidding for and who you are bidding to, explains Simone.
A client does not always only make a decision on design style and ethos. They will want to know that the working relationship is robust, that attitudes towards and within the design team are aligned and that work is fulfilled in a timely manner. It is important to acknowledge throughout the bidding process that clients are making an assessment of attitudes and social skills to determine who will deliver an all-around reliable and trustworthy service.
“The moment we are provided an opportunity to bid for a project, the potential client is treated as they have already commissioned us. This attitude toward “servicing” the client does not go unnoticed and provides a secure anchor to then go on to discuss the requirement, brief, and service and costs in detail in an amiable environment, where both client and architect want to win,” says Simone.
Simone de Gale will be one of the guests invited to speak at the Archdaily FREE live broadcast panel on the topic of “How to Win Work”- Business Development for Architects, taking place 10th March 2022 on Archdaly’s facebook page at 18:00 - 19:00 pm CET. Keep your eyes peeled for the broadcast, and if you have yet, follow the page. Alternatively, you can subscribe to Disrupt Symposium newsletter by filling in the websites pop-up form: https://www.disruptsymposium.com/
Disrupt is a 5-day virtual event bringing C-level executives from the AEC industry to cover topics of Business Development, Marketing, Branding, Communications, Sales, Client Attraction Strategies, Financials, Practice Operations, Tools of Digital Transformation and more. Some of the key companies involved are: UnStudio, SOM, OMA-AMO, Snohetta, Safdie Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects, Perkins&Will, Gensler and more.
The event is generously supported by Graphisoft, Z by HP, Teradici, Chaos, Tunarch, and IE School of Architecture and Design.
Simone de Gale Architects is a Belgravia, London, based architecture practice. Their style is grounded in mathematical principles, each project exploring the science of rhythm, pattern and repetition. They are winners of ‘Architect of the Year’ for Women in Construction Awards. The founder, Simone de Gale, is developing an international portfolio, the first project being a £200 million masterplan in Tbilisi, Georgia. The company has secured other international projects; in Croatia, the Caribbean, and developing opportunities in Ukraine, Hong Kong and the USA. Build projects include the London Hammersmith Flyunder feasibility, and developing a next-gen patented materials processing technique with the UK Ministry of Defence. Simone de Gale headlined alongside Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects at the inaugural Architecture of the Future Conference in Kyiv, where over 1,000 delegates were in attendance for a keynote on innovative architectural practises in construction.