Way back when, in the 1980's, when post punk pop topped the charts, when New Romantics taught us to tuck our jumpers in our pants, when Thatcher and Scargill went to war over coal not dole, we were busy forgetting how great British cities had been and had no idea how great they might be again.
1980's popular culture is where we grew up, a climate of adversity and opportunity of design awareness and desire to change things and make things different. All played out to a backing track taken from punk to pop, to garage to house. The days when to be urban was to be cool, the days of the stripped back loft apartment in a chic part of derelict down town.
Bound together by loose associations the founding directors came from different disciplines. Graduates of history, architecture, planning, interior design, surveying and graduates of nothing but a lifetimes experience of building buildings.
In the beginning there was no big plan, no strategy, no idea of what we were to become, just a wholehearted belief in cities, in design, in architecture and a desire to make things better. To make things the way we wanted them to be - different than they were before.
In the early days we worked with existing buildings that we fell in love with, buildings that had fallen apart and that we made better. When we ran out of buildings to convert we started to make our own. We made homes, we made offices and we made special spaces in between for people to be and do things that people do – in shops, bars restaurants, parks and even hotels.
We started in Manchester and Liverpool but soon we were being encouraged to do things in other areas: Leeds, Bradford, Plymouth, Bristol, Sheffield, Birmingham, Salford, all great cities that were thirsting for change.