Met Studio

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Met Studio'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 Met Studio 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

Highlighting best practice
CEO and Chairman
Alex McCuaig
Buckfast Abbey –
The Monastic Way
London-based MET Studio work across a variety of disciplines,
but CEO and Chairman Alex McCuaig describes their
“core areas of work” as being museums, exhibitions and
international expos. Although this means that they cover a broad
range of projects across both the public and private sectors, Alex
believes that one central concept underpins everything they do:
culture. Having first formed as a partnership in 1982, they became
a limited company in 1996 and opened a Hong Kong office in the
same year. Alex explains more about the kind of projects that MET
Studio undertake and examines their process in greater detail.
Although, at heart, we are a professional design studio, our day-to-day work
encompasses so much more than that. We are storytellers, and we work with
clients to tell their story across every step of an exhibit or project, from feasibility,
market research and financing through to planning, design and build.
With our strong belief in the importance of collaboration, a boldly creative team
and focus on strategy and vision, we have delivered museums, exhibitions and
attractions across 50 countries for over 30 years.
Buckfast Abbey – The Monastic Way
We believe this ethos of partnership, creativity and innovation is best displayed
through examples of our work. Last year, we completed The Monastic Way exhibit
for Buckfast Abbey in Devon, which previously had no visitor interpretation of the
abbey or the life of the monks who live and work there.
»CEO and Chairman:
Alex McCuaig
»Incorporated in 1996
»Based in London
»Services: Experiential design
»MET Studio have delivered
projects across 50 countries
for over 30 years
MET Studio
Design Limited
»Building Awards 2016
Contractor of the Year (up to
£300 million)
»RIBA Stirling Prize 2016 for
Newport Street Gallery
»RIBA London Arts & Leisure
Category Award for the 7/7
Memorial in Hyde Park
»National BREEAM Industrial
Award for Defra
»Considerate Constructors
Scheme National Silver Awards
2017 & 2018
»Highly Commended, Society of
College, National and University
Libraries (SCONUL) Design
Awards for Kingston University
The abbey approached us after
trawling the country for experienced
designers. Our first task was to
demonstrate our design expertise
and empathy with the subject.
Subsequently, they requested that we
create a visitor experience sympathetic
to their values and goals, all the
while exploring a 1,500-year journey
of Benedictine monks spread across
Europe and beyond.
After securing the contract, we
collaborated with both our researchers
and content developer working
with Buckfast Abbey to develop
something entirely unique for their
visitor experience. We also engaged
the services of individual specialist
companies to handle construction,
model-making, audio-visual
productions and interactive software.
We finalised the project after a year of
weekly cross-sector collaboration, and
feedback has been overwhelmingly
Hong Kong Wetland Park
In Hong Kong, we worked together
with government representatives to
build a wetland park. They provided us
with three particular goals they had in
»Mitigating the loss of land and
species through urbanisation
»Creating another venue for tourism
»Educating young people across the
city with regard to the preservation
and migration of wildfowl
Throughout every stage of the process,
we worked closely with partners from
the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust to cover
feasibility and present to government
ministers on the Hong Kong tourism
board. After establishing a plan, we
worked closely on concept, narrative,
production and specification with
a variety of other entities involved,
including government architects, to
finalise the £50 million project.
Collaboration is an absolute
In both of these examples, one trait that’s
of absolutely paramount importance for
us resonates: collaboration. By partnering
with clients and demonstrating our
willingness to work with a variety of
other bodies, we have consistently
delivered large-scale projects with
outstanding results. It really is as simple as
that – a willingness to listen and engage
with others with a view to creating
one coherent, excellent and culturally
appropriate project has underpinned
our journey from success to success.
This ethos does not solely cover the
work we do day to day, however; it has
governed our growth and international
expansion over the past three decades.
We’re currently in partnership with
architecture firms in Hong Kong and
Mexico, having operated independently
in the former since 1996. We are
additionally celebrating the opening of
our new Singapore office and plan on
expanding into Dubai soon.
This will allow us to take advantage of
the booming market for experiential
design services in the Middle East.
Heritage and tourism are very much
hot topics in that part of the world –
and we believe that winning business
abroad by sitting in a London office is
impossible. Being out in the field doing
research and forging partnerships from
an early stage is key for the kind of
international work we undertake.
Hong Kong Wetland
We have
exhibitions and
across 50
countries for
over 30 years
Highlighting best practice
Western problems on an
international stage
These international operations do
not come without their fair share of
challenges, however. Any company
that tries to take Western ideology
and processes abroad with them
will fail. Constantly redefining our
methodologies to play by another
culture’s rules isn’t always easy, but it
is entirely necessary.
We constantly travel around the world
looking to meet, greet and adapt.
This helps to lay the appropriate
foundations for future partnerships,
and we receive no shortage of support
from British government in this regard.
Frankly, the work of the Department
for International Trade has been
outstanding and incredibly helpful.
The only problem is that this support
extends beyond us to a raft of other
similar companies.
When vying for projects abroad,
we already have to compete with
European, Asian and American
companies – a well-structured
government programme just brings
more British companies into the
marketplace. Although this is still
promoting international trade, it might
be the wrong approach; perhaps
government should look at getting
the right British companies to fly the
flag, rather than spreading the net
OJEU concerns after March
The Official Journal of the European
Union requires all tenders to be
formally published in one central place
as according to European legislation.
This process means that design and
build projects are available not just
for British companies, but for those
across Europe. At first glance, it might
seem that Brexit could pave the way
for more exclusive opportunities
on domestic soil, but the OJEU also
informs companies like ours about
European projects.
It’s tough enough working in Europe
without this further hindrance, but
we do work across the globe and thus
don’t foresee Brexit being completely
devastating in this regard. What’s
more pressing, however, is the fact
that around 50 per cent of our team
are European, many of whom are
becoming concerned about their
future in the UK.
Diversify, expand and stay
one step ahead
We’re proud of the work we do, and
we want to continue doing it, but
the international landscape is about
to change. As such, we will need to
keep looking at new marketplaces to
expand into going forwards.
We will continue to make new
contacts and build new relationships
all across the world. Our vision is to be
constantly in the vanguard of emerging
new sectors before an opportunity
arises – if we are going to succeed, we
must stay one step ahead of the pack.
By partnering
with clients
our willingness
to work with a
variety of
other bodies,
we have
projects with
Museo De Ciencias
Guadalajara, Mexico

This article was sponsored by Met Studio. 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 Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy