McGurk Architects

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by McGurk Architects's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from McGurk Architects is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.mcgurk-architects.com

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | ABBOTT WADE
customer confidence. We are not
accountable to shareholders who may
compromise our integrity, unrivalled
reputation and high standards in
pursuit of profits.
With employees spanning three
generations, we have remained a
proud family-run business since our
inception. We trust and support
one another, working for the same
goal while maintaining our collective
reputation. We’re proud of our
roots and support our community
by employing local craftspeople. We
employ our fitters with good wages
instead of subcontracting, providing a
career rather than a job. This improves
staff retention and attracts fully trained
staff from competitors.
Our traditional values are prized by our
customers, who want the best product
and price from a company they trust.
We’re honest with our customers,
ensuring they make informed decisions
about our materials, our designs and
the installation process so there are no
unexpected surprises.
Running a small business brings many
challenges: limited resources, reduced
buying power and reliance on third-
party services for accountancy or advice
on new legislation like GDPR and
work-based pensions. We have fewer
resources for research and development,
although R&D tax credits have helped to
keep us at the forefront of our industry.
A small business requires team members
to be adaptable, enabling them to see
the broader picture. This also allows
our systems, procedures and services to
be more flexible to adapt to changes in
customer demand and the economy.
As we’ve grown, we have become
increasingly self-reliant by investing in
our infrastructure, adding a purpose-
built office, spray shop and workshop
to our premises. This allows us to offer
flexibility that cannot be matched by
our competitors, large or small.
Remaining self-reliant and
adaptable
The prices of imported consumables
and raw materials are likely to change
as a consequence of Brexit, as are the
buying habits of our clients. It remains
to be seen whether they tighten their
purse strings or increasingly “buy
British” and invest in their homes
instead of spending money on foreign
holidays and imported cars.
Our growth and success are not a tale
of outside investors and management
consultants but rather one of hard
work, expertise and sustainable
growth. By remaining adaptable,
becoming increasingly self-reliant and
providing a specialist high-quality
product, we will remain a family
business at the forefront of staircase
design. Under the ownership of the
next generation of the Abbott-Wade
families, we will continue with the
same customer-focused approach and
the values of honesty and hard work
that have served our business so well.
Our traditional
values are
prized by our
customers,
who want the
best product
and price from
a company
they trust
We install around 400
renovations or new
flights every year
39MCGURK ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Practice Principal Colm McGurk
Raidió Fáilte/Líonra Uladh
Founded in November 1993, McGurk Architects prides
itself on the delivery of innovative buildings. Based in
Magherafelt, County Derry, the award-winning architectural
consultancy specialises in community, healthcare and social
housing constructions that promote a shared future in the
UK and beyond. It has a wealth of project experience in these
sectors as well as commercial, leisure and residential work.
The practice works actively with all its clients, consultants and
contractors to ensure that a continuous dialogue is created
from conception to completion, resulting in high-quality design
that meets client needs and budgets, which is evidenced by
their recently completed works. Practice Principal Colm McGurk
explains more.
In West Belfast, even the architecture is often a political statement. The collapse
of the Northern Ireland Executive happened on January 9, 2017, four days before
the contract start of Raidío Fáilte’s signature Irish-medium broadcasting, sound
recording and media training facility. This was a strange coincidence as funding
cuts to Irish language services, same-sex marriage rights and the Renewable
Heat Incentive scandal were widely acknowledged as the central elements which
triggered Martin McGuinness’ resignation as deputy first minister just as the project
entitled Ulster Network was breaking ground. Ironically, at that stage £1.4 million
had been committed by Belfast City Council, the Department for Communities
and An Ciste Infheistíochta Gaeilge, which is an £8 million capital fund for Irish-
language projects secured by Sinn Féin at the Hillsborough talks.
FACTS ABOUT
MCGURK ARCHITECTS
»Practice Principal: Colm McGurk
»Founded in 1993
»Based in Magherafelt, Mid
Ulster, Northern Ireland
»Services: Chartered architectural
practice
»No. of employee s: 10
McGurk Architects
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | MCGURK ARCHITECTS
The building, dubbed An Lon Dubh,
or the blackbird, is located on a site
previously a haven for anti-social
activity. It is now the hub for Ceathrú
Gaeltachta, Belfast’s Irish-language
speaking quarter. The compact
radio station’s four-storey tower
is efficiently designed to leave a
small carbon footprint and includes
managed workspaces for culture-based
enterprises and community outreach
activities. Raidío Fáilte 107.1FM is now
the gateway to a resurgent, confident
West Belfast emerging from and
acknowledging the historically troubled
physical and social narrative of its past.
The judge’s citation at the 2019
RSUA Design Awards said: “This is a
remarkable project in a very demanding
location. The judges were equally
impressed by the skills exercised by
the architects in working with the
budget to produce a building of great
character, simplicity andvalue.”
Our inspiration
It’s little wonder that the themes of
community and shared working-class
heritage inspire and permeate our
work. I am one of thirteen children from
a family steeped in Gaelic tradition. My
grandfather Anthony was interned in
Frongoch, Wales, along with other Irish
nationalists following the 1916 Easter
Rising, while two of Anthony’s brothers
saw service with the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police during the First World
War – a shared history seeing two
sides of the samestory.
It also provided a personal link to
the subject matter of our Aras Uí
Chonghaile project further along the
Falls Road from Raidió Fáilte. Opened
recently by the president of Ireland,
Michael D. Higgins, Fáilte Feirste Thiar’s
renovation of a derelict terrace tells
the life story of James Connolly: his
impoverished upbringing in Edinburgh,
his time in the British Army, his role
as a pioneer of the early trade union
movement and his socialist writings,
through to his role in the 1916 Easter
Rising and subsequent execution. The
museum and visitors centre is indeed
a great addition to West Belfast’s
expanding tourist offering.
The corten steel cladding alludes to
the industrial heritage of Belfast city,
while the perforated panels depicting
the iconic image of Connolly allow
dappled sunlight to permeate deep
into the building’s ground floor café
and library. Connolly campaigned
tirelessly from his home here on the
Falls Road between 1910 and 1916
to help greatly improve the conditions
experienced by an exploited working
class at the turn of the 20th century.
Aras Uí Chonghaile’s
facade (left) and cafe
(right)
We are
inspired by the
themes of
community
and shared
working-class
heritage, and
they permeate
our work
41MCGURK ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Investing for growth
Connection with local communities
and understanding local environments
and cultural values has been pivotal
to our business since its inception.
During the longest Irish and UK
property boom on record, we thrived
and expanded to 35 staff before the
recession hit. We were fortunate that
our client base was not overladen
with speculative developers and,
throughout this period, managed to
maintain an integrity in the quality of
our design work.
The business was forced to reduce
overheads, and our swift recovery has
been achieved through reinvestment
in office management systems and the
upskilling of staff. In difficult times,
great assistance was provided by Invest
Northern Ireland’s various support
measures. Overall efficiency improved,
and the company’s enhanced profile
saw successful tenders for public
works professional services contracts.
The quality of the recently completed
award-winning projects is testimony to
the thorough implementation of these
procedures.
The judge’s citation for Corriewood
Private Clinic at the 2018 RSUA Design
Awards states: “This project acts as
an exemplar, both demonstrating a
considered approach to development
in the grounds of a listed building,
and a model for the provision of
residential accommodation for an
elderlypopulation.”
2020 vision
In early 2018, the practice’s design
for Sinead McGurk Opticians won the
UK Practice of the Year at the AOP
Awards2018.
Presently, we are the design and build
site architects for Islington Council
on their Bunhill II Energy Centre.
This pilot project captures waste
heat from the London Underground
tube system, bringing a cheaper,
greener, low-carbon heat source to
thecommunity.
We are keen to contribute at a larger
scale to the built fabric of London and
elsewhere in the UK, particularly in
areas such as social housing and large
public projects. Bridging that gap is
the next stage in the development of
our practice. From a Northern Ireland
perspective, it is highly regrettable that
the draft EU–UK withdrawal paper
proposed by Theresa May in November
2017 was rejected as it would surely
have boosted Northern Ireland’s
economy and made it an attractive
investment opportunity for companies
around the world.
Connecting with
local
communities and
understanding
local
environments
and cultural
values has been
pivotal to our
business
Corriewood Private
Clinic
Facade brick detail
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | MCGURK ARCHITECTS
The building, dubbed An Lon Dubh,
or the blackbird, is located on a site
previously a haven for anti-social
activity. It is now the hub for Ceathrú
Gaeltachta, Belfast’s Irish-language
speaking quarter. The compact
radio station’s four-storey tower
is efficiently designed to leave a
small carbon footprint and includes
managed workspaces for culture-based
enterprises and community outreach
activities. Raidío Fáilte 107.1FM is now
the gateway to a resurgent, confident
West Belfast emerging from and
acknowledging the historically troubled
physical and social narrative of its past.
The judge’s citation at the 2019
RSUA Design Awards said: “This is a
remarkable project in a very demanding
location. The judges were equally
impressed by the skills exercised by
the architects in working with the
budget to produce a building of great
character, simplicity andvalue.”
Our inspiration
It’s little wonder that the themes of
community and shared working-class
heritage inspire and permeate our
work. I am one of thirteen children from
a family steeped in Gaelic tradition. My
grandfather Anthony was interned in
Frongoch, Wales, along with other Irish
nationalists following the 1916 Easter
Rising, while two of Anthony’s brothers
saw service with the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police during the First World
War – a shared history seeing two
sides of the samestory.
It also provided a personal link to
the subject matter of our Aras Uí
Chonghaile project further along the
Falls Road from Raidió Fáilte. Opened
recently by the president of Ireland,
Michael D. Higgins, Fáilte Feirste Thiar’s
renovation of a derelict terrace tells
the life story of James Connolly: his
impoverished upbringing in Edinburgh,
his time in the British Army, his role
as a pioneer of the early trade union
movement and his socialist writings,
through to his role in the 1916 Easter
Rising and subsequent execution. The
museum and visitors centre is indeed
a great addition to West Belfast’s
expanding tourist offering.
The corten steel cladding alludes to
the industrial heritage of Belfast city,
while the perforated panels depicting
the iconic image of Connolly allow
dappled sunlight to permeate deep
into the building’s ground floor café
and library. Connolly campaigned
tirelessly from his home here on the
Falls Road between 1910 and 1916
to help greatly improve the conditions
experienced by an exploited working
class at the turn of the 20th century.
Aras Uí Chonghaile’s
facade (left) and cafe
(right)
We are
inspired by the
themes of
community
and shared
working-class
heritage, and
they permeate
our work
41MCGURK ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Investing for growth
Connection with local communities
and understanding local environments
and cultural values has been pivotal
to our business since its inception.
During the longest Irish and UK
property boom on record, we thrived
and expanded to 35 staff before the
recession hit. We were fortunate that
our client base was not overladen
with speculative developers and,
throughout this period, managed to
maintain an integrity in the quality of
our design work.
The business was forced to reduce
overheads, and our swift recovery has
been achieved through reinvestment
in office management systems and the
upskilling of staff. In difficult times,
great assistance was provided by Invest
Northern Ireland’s various support
measures. Overall efficiency improved,
and the company’s enhanced profile
saw successful tenders for public
works professional services contracts.
The quality of the recently completed
award-winning projects is testimony to
the thorough implementation of these
procedures.
The judge’s citation for Corriewood
Private Clinic at the 2018 RSUA Design
Awards states: “This project acts as
an exemplar, both demonstrating a
considered approach to development
in the grounds of a listed building,
and a model for the provision of
residential accommodation for an
elderlypopulation.”
2020 vision
In early 2018, the practice’s design
for Sinead McGurk Opticians won the
UK Practice of the Year at the AOP
Awards2018.
Presently, we are the design and build
site architects for Islington Council
on their Bunhill II Energy Centre.
This pilot project captures waste
heat from the London Underground
tube system, bringing a cheaper,
greener, low-carbon heat source to
thecommunity.
We are keen to contribute at a larger
scale to the built fabric of London and
elsewhere in the UK, particularly in
areas such as social housing and large
public projects. Bridging that gap is
the next stage in the development of
our practice. From a Northern Ireland
perspective, it is highly regrettable that
the draft EU–UK withdrawal paper
proposed by Theresa May in November
2017 was rejected as it would surely
have boosted Northern Ireland’s
economy and made it an attractive
investment opportunity for companies
around the world.
Connecting with
local
communities and
understanding
local
environments
and cultural
values has been
pivotal to our
business
Corriewood Private
Clinic
Facade brick detail

www.mcgurk-architects.com

This article was sponsored by McGurk Architects. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster