082: Architecture Without Buildings with Omid Kamvari, Kamvari Architects & Pheromone

Who said Architecture had to be buildings?!

Consider that maybe 60-70% of the architectural work we do doesn't get built. Does that work still have value? Of course it does!. Now consider that some of the fastest growing companies in the world right now might actually be architectural in nature, i.e. they employ a non-material solution to architectural and urban problems.

Uber utilises tech to offer an alternative to transport infrastructure, Airbnb facilitates the movement of people without the need of new hotels and buildings. These are all ideas that wouldn't have been out of place as 5th year architectural proposals in progressive universities.

Personally I think one the biggest latent opportunities for the architectural industry and for us as entrepreneurially minded architects is moving outside of what is traditionally considered architecture. This isn't new thinking particularly, after all Hans Hollein was talking about this in the 1960s.

So it was with great pleasure to spend a morning with British Iranian Architect Omid Kamvari of Kamvari Architects and Pheromone to discuss exactly this and his work as an architect, researcher, educator, and entrepreneur. Omid specialised in Emergent Technologies and Design and is considered an expert in advanced digital design in architecture, lecturing internationally, on advanced manufacturing and design, robotics and algorithmic design. He holds positions at the university of Brighton and Nottingham, as a Senior lecturer on Technology. Omid has an astute business mind. He was responsible for numerous international short term education courses (Incubator/Accelerators) transforming standardised educational models. He has represented publicly listed companies at board level transforming internal structure and organisation and managing stakeholder and company growth.

In this conversation you will hear Omid discuss

  • The potential for non-material solutions for architectural business
  • The latent opportunities that exist for architects, students and businesses in disciplines outside of the architecture such as in tech and data
  • How he co founded a smart and flexible data aggregation platform that collects business analytics for easy use

This week's resources

Discovery Call with Rion


Kamvari Architects




081: The Mindful Architect: Mental Health in Business with Ben Channon

Our minds are our greatness asset. And in Business, Architecture and life the quality of our experience, from our happiness to the our ability to be creative and enjoy our work, is in direct relationship to our mental fitness, hygiene and well-being. It is not uncommon that working practices considered necessary for vast output actually end up being counter productive to the goals we are looking to achieve.

This week I speak with Ben Channon on the subject of Mental Health in architecture and in business. Ben is an Associate at Assael Architecture, where he has worked since 2012.

He is Mental Wellbeing Ambassador at the practice, which has won a number of awards for its approach to staff care. He is an accredited mindfulness practitioner with the Mindfulness Association, and recently qualified as a WELL Accredited Professional. Ben also founded and chairs the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum, which is focused on improving mental health within the industry.

Ben was selected as a RIBAJ Rising Star 2018 and a RESI Trailblazer 2019, for his work in the area of architecture and mental health.

In this conversation you will learn:

  •  How you can improve you physical working environment to support you and your team's well being
  • Why meditation and mindfulness isn't just for monasticism but can be used to increase your happiness, well-being and fulfilment in life and work
  • How to identify and change an unhealthy working culture in your office


This week's resources:

Discovery Call with Rion


Ben Channon


080: Falling out of Love with Architecture (& back again!) with Tanisha Raffiuddin

A career in architecture doesn't just mean being an architect designing buildings. The industry is wonderfully rich with many different opportunities available in related sectors and disciplines.

This week I speak with Tanisha Raffiuddin about her fascinating career path from architecture student to looking for work during the recession to becoming a communications consultant then re-entering traditional world of architecture as an architectural designer to now being the creative director of Concept Culture – a creative agency that helps built environment organisations strategically grow their brand and business.

Tanisha has over a decade of combined experience in architectural practice at AJ100 firms, as a contributor at The Architects’ Journal, and a communications consultant at the Passivhaus Trust and the Sustainable Development Foundation.

Becoming an architect in practice who designs buildings is just one way of utilising architectural expertise and education, there is a whole world of alternative paths, careers, entrepreneurial ventures and opportunities that now exist and are growing, I hope Tanisha's story inspires and excites those of you who are feeling the itch to follow your adventure.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How Tanisha found work during a recession
  • Why building a personal brand is crucial to developing your career
  • How to evolve a career in architecture that is authentic to you

This week's resources:

Discovery call with Rion:


Concept Culture:

079: Infrastructure Architect & Mentor to the Profession with Jason Boyle

Have you ever considered a career in the fascinating world of designing complex infrastructure buildings?

This week I speak with Jason Boyle, the youngest person to become a Fellow of the RIBA and who also received fellowship status from the Royal Society of Arts in 2018 for his work in infrastructure.

Jason has spent the last 11 years of his career in the Nuclear Industry and is currently leading the architecture of a £800m + nuclear infrastructure project at Sellafield. Jason is an ambassador for Architecture in the Civil and Engineering sector, is a responsible engineer and has been a pioneer for the use of BIM in government infrastructure projects.

Jason is also the founder of mymentor.expert a professional mentoring service designed, as Jason describes, ‘to unlock the potential, which is deep inside of everyone, at any stage of your career by giving you the keys to succeed in life.'

In this episode you will discover:

  • The career pathway Jason followed to become a nuclear infrastructure specialist
  • How Jason's pioneering work in infrastructure earned him a fellowship
  • The importance of having a mentor and what are some game changing tools for productivity


This week's resources:

Discovery call with Rion:


My Mentor


078: Why are Architects Fees Low? with Rion Willard, Business of Architecture UK

This week I respond to a recent micro poll, which I conducted on social media that asked architects what they thought the biggest challenge facing the industry is. The results came in showing that the ‘Low fees' were considered the biggest challenge followed by climate change, with many commenting that our ability to influence climate change is related to our ability to produce revenue.

Do you agree? I shared the results from the initial poll all over social media and asked the question do you agree? Do architects actually have low fees? and if so why? What are the reasons behind low fees across the profession? What do you think the practices who command high fees doing? (I give some case studies of some practices I spoken to who are crushing it).

The posts and polls were viewed by over 6000 people and many of you responded and gave your insights. This podcast is a curation of some of those comments and ideas from architects, marketers, property experts, business owners, media institutions, students and industry thought leaders with some of my own commentary and thoughts on the subject.

At the Business of Architecture UK our mission is to help architects command the fees they desire and our ongoing industry research helps us refine and develop our tools, strategies and consulting. So I want to thank everybody for their ongoing contribution and encourage everyone to view this as conversation that is important for us all to participate in, so please your thoughts and ideas in the comments or email me at rion@businessofarchitecture.co.uk

In this episode you will discover:

  • An array of industry opinions to the root causes of low fees
  • Examples of what leading practices are doing to command well deserved fees and how they are winning work
  • Latent opportunities that lie in our businesses


This week's Resources

Discovery Call with Rion



077: Applying Architectural Principles to Business with Lennart Grut, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

This week I speak with Lennart Grut, senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

Lennart is the Partner principally in charge of managing the practice’s key international projects and has worked at RSHP for three decades starting work with Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano, Peter Rice and others on the Pompidou Centre in Paris. From engineer to senior partner his role now includes organising and managing multidisciplinary teams in multilingual environments to ensure delivery of projects.

In this interview Lennart discusses:

  • The unique constitution that structures the business of Rogers Stirk Habour + Partners
  • How they have weathered numerous economic recessions
  • The generation change of the practice and the future of the business model


This week's Resources

Discovery Call with Rion


Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners


076: Pitched Black – Being Your Own Client with Rhys Cannon of Gruff Architects

This week's podcast was conducted on site in South London at Pitched Black, the new home designed by Gruff Architects.

Rhys Cannon walks me through the evolution the of Gruff, how they won those important early projects up to now with the completion of Pitched Black and their ventures into new sectors.

In this episode Rhys discusses

  • How Gruff created visibility in the early days of the practice
  • How he structured the relationship being both client and architect with the design of Pitched Black
  • How Gruff have used innovative construction and manufacturing techniques to create bespoke items for specific projects

Today’s Resources:

Book your business discovery call with Rion





075: Running a Global Multi-generational Practice with Tom Kundig, Olson Kundig

What a corker of an interview this was! What a delight and absolute pleasure to be speaking to an archi-hero of mine, Tom Kundig the principal and owner of the Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig Architects.

Tom's honours include some of the highest design awards, including a 2008 National Design Award in Architecture Design from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt; a 2007 Academy Award in Architecture from The American Academy of Arts and Letters; selection as a finalist for the 2005 National Design Award for Architecture; a MacDowell Colony Fellowship; and selection as an Emerging Architect by the Architectural League of New York.

He has also received eleven National American Institute of Architects awards. In 2011, he was included in The Wallpaper* 150, Wallpaper (magazine)'s list of the 150 people who have most influenced, inspired and improved the way we live, work and travel over the last 15 years.

In this conversation Tom discusses:

– how a practice of 200 still produces some of world's most extraordinary private residences and the importance of that work within the practice

– what is a good client and how to find them, in his words ‘The whole industry is about finding good clients'

– the complexity of branding a cross generational design practice with multiple distinct architectural voices


Today’s Resources:

Book your 2020 Results and Vision call with Rion


Olson Kundig



074: Creating a New Global Social Network with Purpose w/ Simon Puleston Jones, CEO Woken Up

Some of the most powerful lessons in business can come from interacting with other disciplines and industries.

In this podcast I begin a series of conversations that will continue throughout 2020 where I will speak to a number of business owners, entrepreneurs, app and product developers outside of the architecture industry to understand their stories of creating, organising and building businesses.

This week's story captures the early stages of a new social network driven by civic responsibility and purpose.

I thought this story particularly pertinent to architects as I am meeting more and more architects who are in the process of developing their own apps and tech platforms.

Our profession typically also upholds and shares the same social purpose and desire to contribute to society as this week's guest.

Simon Puleston Jone's entrepreneurial venture begins after a distinguished career having been CEO and then Head of the Futures Industry Association (FIA Europe), Chairman of the Joint Trade Association Group (JTAG), Director at Barclays Investment Bank and prior to that he was solicitor in the Capital Markets Group of the Financial Markets Department of Simmons & Simmons advising on global investment banking and corporate clients.

After an eventful year with a number personal and professional transitions a powerful and transformative personal development and training seminar catalysed within Simon an entrepreneurial hunger and desire to serve others and the environment.

Based on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the idea was to use tech for good and create a new global social network for individuals, nonprofits, companies and other platforms that are making a difference by taking action on today's pressing social and environmental issues – from climate and sustainability to diversity and beyond.

The app became ‘Woken Up.'

In this episode you will learn:

– How Simon took a mission and a vision from idea to app

– How early seed investment can be raised and what obstacles are involved

– How having an appetite for risk whilst knowing how to manage it in an entrepreneurial venture is essential


Today's Resources:

Book your 2020 Results and Vision call with Rion


Woken Up


Simon Puleston Jones



073: A Scandinavian-flavoured Approach to Systematically Producing Consistently Beautiful and Profitable Work with Magnus Ström, Ström Architects

We kick off 2020 with Magnus Ström of Ström Architects who specialise in delivering stunning modernist homes, often located in areas of outstanding beauty across the UK and internationally.

With an impressive and growing portfolio of delicious homes, Magnus shares with me how he has brought business precision to many elements of his practice, systematising important processes in both the delivery and acquisition of new work to ensure consistent quality and profitability.

In this interview you will learn:

  • How Magnus uses social media to attract high end residential projects
  • How Ström Architects developed a ‘niche'
  • How Magnus evolved in his role from Project Architect to being the CEO of his practice

This week’s resources:

Book your 2020 Results and Vision call with Rion



Ström Architects


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