Bradford architect plans to establish London base

AN architecture firm which has played a significant role in regenerating deprived parts of Yorkshire plans to establish a London office next year.

Amir Hussain, COE of YEME architects in Bradford

Amir Hussain, the chief executive of YEME Architects, said the company planned to carry out more projects in London and the south east as part of its expansion plans.

He said the company expected to open an office in Stratford, London in late February 2018.

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YEME Architects, which is based in the former Diplomat Hotel in Bradford, aims to become one of the top 100 architecture firms in the country.

Mr Hussain said the firm, which is expected to achieve turnover of around £1m this financial year, plans to increase the size of its 16-strong team in response to demand. Mr Hussain said: “We’re looking to start with four staff in the London office. We’re still discussing the amount of space we are taking within the facility.”

He added: “It is very important that we continue the ethos we have got in Bradford. We need to make sure we don’t lose that as we grow.

“Our core principle is around adding value. We can deliver more for less and we have demonstrated that on commercial projects.”

YEME is probably best known for its work to turn a former swimming baths in Manningham, Bradford, into a gym.

Mr Hussain said: “It works well because it saved a listed building. It also created a unique service that serves a very deprived community but is still commercially successful.”

Mr Hussain said he was also proud of the work that YEME had carried out to turn the disused Diplomat Hotel into its headquarters. The restoration project incorporates a tail fin from an RAF fighter jet and artefacts from the hotel’s past, including a piano.

Mr Hussain said: “The Diplomat hotel was in decline and had last opened about 10 years ago. It was derelict and not economically viable to repair.

“We wanted to create something that was dynamic and ambitious, but we wanted to be very respectful of the building’s past.”

In the longer term, Mr Hussain hopes to increase staff and revenue numbers four-fold.

“We’re six years old, we started with virtually nothing,’’ he added.

“We are now handling projects with total contract value in the region of £100m, which for the size of the practice we are, is pretty phenomenal.”

He said the company was already working “very closely” with planners in Leeds.

He added: “We’re in a position to create much better outcomes, especially in places like Bradford where you have got a set of challenging circumstances.”

Mr Hussain believes local people should spread the word about Bradford’s strengths.

He said: “Bradford has to be true to itself. There are some very good things going on, but unfortunately they are not manifested in the street scape and they are not manifested on the high street.

“They are not in the narrative that comes out of the city. So people don’t recognise that those things are happening here.

“One of the city’s themes has to be based around recognising where our strengths are, whether it’s precision engineering, craft beers or some of the entrepreneurial things that are going on in the city.

He added: “It’s harnessing the things we are good at and building on those. It’s about shouting much more loudly and proudly about what our strengths are.”