Developing the environmental and social sustainability of a project requires us to zoom out. So that's what we do.
When looking at a building or site, we think about not just those who will be there every day, but the people who live or work nearby, those who pass through, or even see it from a distance. How will it impact the immediate and extended environment, the neighbourhood and the city? How can we maximise social value?
To do this, we consult with local and sometimes underrepresented groups. We’ve worked with schools, young people, faith groups, residents and even a cemetery, to make sure the creative design is led by those that will actually use it.
Our Place studio is involved in every project, bringing in expertise from urban design and landscape, looking at everything from the micro detail to the macro impact. We also collaborate with other practices and people who share our values, from housing associations and property developers to other architects and master planners. This gives us the opportunity to add value to projects, to offer the broadest perspective, making our spaces inviting and inspiring for generations to come.
Our expertise spans disciplines, studios and geography. The key to great work is bringing it all together.
In both our London and Manchester locations, we work in small groups built around sectors and types of work – housing, arts, health, education and commercial.
Our interdisciplinary ‘Place’ studio is involved in every project to help to shape broadest possible view, bringing expertise in sustainability, conservation, public realm design, master planning, health and wellbeing.
This collaborative and creative approach allows everyone the space to contribute ideas, skills and experience, with diversity of thought improving the quality of what we do.
Listening, challenging and working with clients to co-create the brief, then building teams that can make it happen. This is collaboration with purpose.
Bringing a more diverse range of people into architecture is important. That's why we've set up our own apprenticeships programme.
The most successful buildings and spaces are those that are created by people with different experiences and viewpoints. We're committed to making sure anyone who wants to work in this industry can, even if traditional routes in aren't an option.
We offer a Level 6 apprenticeship, which means students can work in practice alongside their studies, with fees mostly paid through the apprenticeship levy.
We're also developing a ‘Foundation Year’ to help people get the experience they need to progress to an apprenticeship, degree course or employment. We're working with local schools to find leavers who may be unable to commit to further education, or unsure of how to begin a career in architecture.
Creating better housing for the inner city was how it started, and the ethos lives on today.
Levitt Bernstein was founded in 1968, shortly after David Levitt met David Bernstein whilst working on the ground-breaking Brunswick Centre. They decided to set up a practice focused on revitalising London’s decaying inner city. The capital was in the middle of a housing crisis and the pair were dedicated to creating better homes for all – a principle that is as fundamental to our work now as it was then.
After initially focusing on social housing, we began to branch out into other sectors. A turning point was winning the commission to design a theatre in Manchester’s derelict Victorian trading hall. The new Royal Exchange Theatre won us our first RIBA Award and was the beginning of many public building commissions for the practice. By the end of the 70s, we were well known for our work in urban regeneration, housing and cultural buildings, and still are today.
Since then, our practice has grown to include new offices in Manchester as well as London. Our work has developed organically too, including arts, education, health and commercial sectors.
Though each building and space has a different purpose and problem to solve, all of our work continues to build on the principles we first started with – to benefit people, place and planet through sustainable and innovative design.