Professional judgement with a keen eye and a sensibility way beyond her years

RISING STARS 2016 COHORT

Architect, Hampshire County Council Architects

Part 2 completed 2013

Warmth, confidence and trust glowed from Bethan Knights’ nomination. Perhaps it is fitting given that she works on historic buildings for a force for good in public architecture, Hampshire County Council Architects. And chair of the judges Matthew Taylor was rooting for her as a rising star.

Her nomination by her boss Giles Pritchard, head of heritage architecture, highlights a mix of contemporary design sensibility and ‘sound understanding’ of the specialist knowledge needed on old buildings. This is something she works to deepen, as through a recent SPAB repair course. She then invited students of the following year’s course to view and discuss her conservation projects.

  • HMS M33 project at Portsmouth Dockyard, part of Gallipoli commemorations.
    HMS M33 project at Portsmouth Dockyard, part of Gallipoli commemorations. Credit: Stefan Venter Upix Photography
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Knights’ leadership on Netley Chapel, Royal Victoria Country Park, demonstrates her ‘decisive role’ on a complex project for which she helped secure phase 2 Heritage Lottery Funding. For a modern public body, handling a multitude of stakeholders and funders has become the key to success. Knights is praised for her ‘positive attitude and clear narratives [which] have built strong relationships’.

Her projects show a grasp of detail and pleasure in taking on new ways of working such as the green oak frame at Winchester Cathedral’s education centre. As lead architect on the grade II* Whitchurch Silk Mill, Knights has shown the importance of her collaborative working with the exhibition designers and museum team. She steers rather than pushes the team, whether an internal or external one, to the best outcome. 

  • HMS M33 project at Portsmouth Dockyard.
    HMS M33 project at Portsmouth Dockyard.
  • Whitchurch Silk Mill.
    Whitchurch Silk Mill.
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Bob Wallbridge, strategic manager, Hampshire County Council Architects, was Knights’ referee. He says: ‘She exercises 
a professional judgement with a keen eye and a sensibility way beyond her years... combined with an ability to draw through ideas, to collaborate, to illustrate ideas, to test thinking with some tenacity with a healthy bit of challenge when needed... all in a spirit that draws together people with some adept steerage and influencing in an iterative way.’ 

Netley Chapel – click image to view.
Netley Chapel – click image to view.

What would you most like to improve about the industry?

I would like to make it more inclusive. Architecture should be for everyone: for someone experiencing a well designed building to someone wanting to be the architect that designed that building.

Who would you most like to work with?

Niall McLaughlin – I have always respected his work; for me it’s the use of materials and understanding of the relationship between a building and its context that really make his work stand out. 

 

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