Co-founder of Smith Simmons, Ben Smith has been practising Architecture for over 25 years. A Lavant local, having moved there with his family at three years old, he attended Chichester High School for Boys and aside from his student time at Cardiff University, has lived in the area ever since.
"I loved drawing from an early age (including an early obsession with designing cars)," says Ben. "Then at secondary school, I discovered technical drawing and started drawing houses and knew from then onwards that I wanted to be an Architect...and actually followed through with my dreams!"
Ben particularly enjoys the challenge of unlocking difficult sites through clever design. One of the trickiest projects he's undertaken was The Boardwalk redevelopment at Northgate, a complicated site with a lot of constraints, including the navigation of Chichester’s ancient city walls.
"I was really proud of the final design," he says, "as we managed to overcome all the difficulties and responded really well to the scale and massing of the surrounding buildings, as well as enhancing the views along the alignment of the city walls."
For Ben, the satisfaction of his job comes from answering the client’s brief and meeting or preferably exceeding their expectations, as well as bringing something to the local area as well. All developments, whatever the size, should bring something to their location as well as bringing the client’s vision to life.
"The part of any project that I love most is sitting down with the client's brief and a pad of blank paper to start working up the initial proposals," says Ben. "It's ultimately very rewarding once it all comes together and I find it's often really helpful to challenge a client's brief and initial ideas by exploring a range of options. We can often come up with something even better than the client had in mind which brings even more satisfaction to a project."
The push on sustainability is finally gaining mainstream momentum, which Ben is really happy about. Planning committees are increasingly better informed, and clients are keener than ever to incorporate sustainable concepts and technologies into their buildings.
"This has been a long time coming and will hopefully bring huge benefits to our environment as well as the chance to see some really interesting and ground-breaking design concepts," says Ben.
Outside of work, Ben gets involved in all aspects of village life, including the local school, allotments and church. He's also currently growing lettuces for his 70-year-old tortoise. She eats one a day and is aptly named Lottie Lettuce!
A keen walker, who walked the South Downs Way last summer, Ben can be found up on the Downs on foot or mountain bike. He's also often with his two daughters at the stables in Lavant, pitching in with grooming and mucking out.
Ben loves to cook, particularly creating dishes from whatever random ingredients he can find in the fridge and/or cupboards...So, if he weren't an Architect, he reckons he'd most likely be a Chef.
For all architecture enquiries, call Ben on 01243 850411.