Since joining Glenn Howells Architects over twenty years ago, partner Dav Bansal has evolved from a self-centred architect to a studio leader who is focused on helping others to succeed.

‘Happy organised chaos’ is how I would describe my joy, my tempo and my way of thinking……I thrive in chaos yet equally strive for order and structure to help me explore ideas and drive my creativity.

For me, our own model shop is the epicentre of our practice and a place where I can go on an exploratory journey of making, changing and then making again.The delight of being unpredictable and embracing the unknown is an adrenalin rush that has been a driving force in my architecture. Tim captured one of these moments in his photograph where I stood in the assembly part of our model shop, a place where I never fail to be excited by the scale prototypes being produced.

The pure craft of making is everywhere in this model shop, with everyone striving for the best approach on each project, in an environment that enriches the lives of our talented designers. It’s a stimulating place for experimentation, where nothing is a mistake, and we learn from everything we do.

I have now been working with Glenn Howells Architects for over two decades and as a partner, my responsibility is to oversee the Birmingham studio in the industrial heart of the city, where I joined as a young, intrigued graduate back in 1999.

Not knowing what to expect, I soon realised I had joined a family who worked hard and played even harder. We rolled up our sleeves to graft and craft just like Birmingham’s own industrious personality. Learning from my mentors, including Glenn, I began to appreciate that the practice’s true value lies in its people and in becoming part of this culture, I grew from being a self-centred architect to a studio leader, who is now determined to motivate and enable others to succeed.

I’ve had a thriving 20+ years of taking my enjoyment seriously and, during the pandemic, I and my fellow partners grabbed the opportunity to pause and rethink what the next 20 years could be. As diverse thinkers, designers and makers…our culture and ethics lie at the core of our purpose to do the right thing for the places, the clients and the communities impacted by our work.

I have learnt many lessons from the pandemic. However, the most important for me is the realisation that we do our best work when we come together to generate real change and that by sharing our experiences we learn and complement each other’s strengths. We are a social species and integral to our ecosystem is the need for both physical and mental interaction – especially if we are to build a healthy and sustainable society.

Dav Bansal