In an interview with Ufuk Bahar, we asked him how he built one of London’s fastest-growing architecture companies with almost no experience. He explained how shaked up the old architectural industry and gave his clients a better development experience by focusing on good design and customer service.
Why did you decide to start an architecture firm with no experience?
Ufuk Bahar: After completing my dissertation at the University of Westminster, I joined an architecture firm just for a month and I became frustrated with the limitations of expertly crafted design solutions and the inability to help clients with their investment.
At that time, I knew that poor design affected more than just property development – it’s a pervasive issue, affecting everything from planning permission to a client’s return on investment. I knew there was a better way to run an architecture practice, a way that is both effective and efficient.
I have then decided to start my own architecture company at a young age. You would be surprised to know I started Urbanist Architecture with almost no experience in the field but this allowed me to look at the way architectural practices operate with fresh eyes, not encumbered with how it should work. I saw what was lacking, what would be ideal and what was required.
How did you manage to build one of the fastest growing architecture firms in London?
Ufuk Bahar: I started a mission to address the mistakes in the architectural industry, from design to customer service, and the result is Urbanist Architecture, an emerging architecture practice. In just seven years it evolved into an award-winning multidisciplinary office with more than ten architects and town planners. To this date, we have completed over 700 remarkable projects with £1 billion worth of investment, many of them in London.
I believe that magic happens when what you do resonates with people. It’s not only about good design or good service, but our mission has to also speak to the heart. Each client tells us their pain points, then we set the project’s objectives and create a bespoke customer journey map. All our projects are done pragmatically, and we make sure that we see the everyday issues that are often overlooked. By doing this, we bridge the gaps between what our client wants and what they were given, and meet their expectations.
Therefore, it’s essential for clients’ experience to match up to our brand promise. That way we build solid, long-term relationships with our clients so they return – and bring their friends to us too.
Do you have strategies to get ahead of the competition?
Ufuk Bahar: Because architecture and design industries are constantly evolving and changing, we need to provide the best design and planning solutions that can address the challenges of real estate developments of the present day.
In addition to providing the best design and planning solutions, and offering a great customer service, I use a unique strategy at the same time as differentiation to open a new market segment and create demand. This strategy is based on an approach where market limits and industrial structure can be restructured with undiscovered market segments. I am doing this with my great team at Urbanist Architecture by following correct data, capturing it on time and sharing it with our whole organisation.
We are making efforts to integrate the process of data collection, measurement, and finalisation with operation. I believe that strategies fed by data intelligence puts us ahead of competition. With our team, we are proud to create outstanding and innovative designs sensitive to local features, reflecting high architectural standards in England, particularly for London. Being one step ahead in competition requires interacting with your clients, reinforcing the image of your brand, and offering the best architectural services.
Do you think the housing shortage problem in London has a solution?
Ufuk Bahar: It can be solved by vertical structuring or through horizontal structuring upon opening green belt lands for development. In other words, London will either address this problem by vertical structuring, or build new houses with horizontal expansion to the countryside. In my opinion, vertical urban planning is a mode of settlement that isolates people and sever their ties with nature. On the other hand, expanding horizontally is a system that strengthens the bonds between human and nature.
However, my statement should not be interpreted as a rural comeback project or an effort to convert valuable green belt lands into a concrete jungle. As a matter of fact, there are misconceptions about green belt lands. It is considered that green belt lands are nothing more than the preservation of nature, green and wildlife. This opinion is not quite accurate for many green belt lands across the world and in England. The only purpose of green belt land is to prevent dense and large-scale urban sprawl. Most of these areas do not have natural beauty, ecological value, or agricultural purpose. Green belt areas are mostly low-quality brush areas identified to contain surrounding cities or towns.
I believe that robustly planned and designed horizontal urbanisation brings along the solution to many problems in the world. One of the foremost solutions is more effective use of natural resources and geological areas. Thus, we have the opportunity to review and change our consumption habits. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of horizontal urban expansion is particularly important for architects, town planners and urban designers in terms of increasing our quality of life and leaving a sustainable life model to future generations.