Adderstone Group


26 February 2019 Written by Lee Darvill
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In the next of Adderstone Group’s 10-minute profiles, we find out more about Lee Darvill, our Senior Architectural Technician, including his love of NUFC, port cities and surprisingly Vivienne Westwood!

We discover what a typical day looks like at Adderstone Group and how he spends his down time away from the office.


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Like most young kids growing up on Tyneside I dreamt of playing for Newcastle United, but that was never going to happen as this was the dream of many in the North East. Luckily, I was always interested in art which lead the way in to architecture. Back in the black and white days, I remember watching swathes of houses being demolished only to be replaced with homes in the sky, concrete structures that were put together like meccano kit, all this in clear view from my infant school. Considered a blight by many but quite amazing by a few.


What is top of your bucket list?

Coming from Newcastle, who wouldn’t want to see Newcastle United win the Champions League, realistically, that’s just not going to happen, well, not just yet! So many things I’d like to do, design and build my own house along the River Tyne next to the old cement works, I’d also like to live in New York, sample the seasons for a year.


What is a typical day like working at Adderstone Group?

Crazy, is probably an understatement, no one day is the same at Adderstone. I’ve always been an early starter so with our QS team and contractors starting before 8am it’s best to answer their phone and email queries first.

Inevitably, there will be a multitude of other project related emails mainly from our CEO setting out what is a top priority for the day ahead. Throughout the day there will be working drawings or details to prepare for issue to our QS team for pricing. This is often followed by site meetings to discuss building works or a meeting with a potential tenant to discuss landlord works for a large warehouse or for a change of use! As well as liaising with contractors on site, we also have an extremely busy in-house development team who constantly require various drawings. This could be anything from preparing lease plans to a full measured survey of a new acquisition. Towards the end of the day our legal team will no doubt be looking to tie up deals and so deadlines need to be met. Did someone mention a lunch break!?


What’s your favourite thing about working at Adderstone Group?

In a few words, the variety of projects. With so many internal departments within Adderstone Group, our architectural division is constantly kept busy with a wide variety of projects. For me the enjoyment is seeing a project from inception through to completion and knowing that the buildings you’ve worked on will still be there in years to come providing work or homes for a host of people.  


Outside of the office, how do you spend your free time?

There is always the in-house 5 a side games, although I have to say, some players are very competitive, mainly the guys in accounts department! Away from the office my son and I are Newcastle United season ticket holders. We try to see as many away games as possible, having said that, catching the 6am train to Bournemouth isn’t so appealing to a teenager! Travel wise, as a family we like to visit European port cities, Genoa, Hamburg, Helsinki, Marseille -they offer something a little different to land locked capitals. 


What are your favourite buildings and why?

With so many buildings around the world to choose from it’s a tough call, Frank Lloyds Wright’s ‘Guggenheim’ (1959) in New York was revolutionary, as is his dwelling ‘Falling Water’ (1935) in Pennsylvania, a beautifully cantilevered structure over a waterfall. The downside is that it leaks like a sieve!). In Europe, the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe (1928) oozes simplicity. Closer to home, Granger Town demonstrates the wealth that Newcastle city was built on, but tucked away is one of the few brutalist buildings remaining in the city. Dex Garage was built in the 1930s, a concrete car park, not the front section, that’s just the over coat, the bare bones lies to the side and rear, out of site but seen from John Dobson street, devoid of any of any detail and colour, it’s powerful in its form. This building needs to be listed so that it doesn’t end up the same way as the ‘Get Carter’ car park in Gateshead. 


What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in architecture?

My advice to anyone considering a career in architecture is simple, think carefully, is it the right career path for you? Architecture is not for everyone. Quite often I hear of students commencing the course only to find that after two years (of a seven-year course) they feel it’s not for them. Recently, I was informed that on one course there was in excess of 200 architectural students, but after two years this reduced to 150, with more considering leaving. You need to be honest with yourself, if you have no passion for buildings, cities, art and design then save your time and money.


Also, selling yourself is all part of the profession and one of the first things students need to do is to look for employment, ensure you have a good portfolio which demonstrates the work you have done to date, include any freehand sketches as this is a good indicator of a person’s technical ability. Finally, be confident in yourself, employers are always looking for someone who’s passionate, different and has something to offer their practice.


Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

It would have to be a real eclectic mix of people to ensure an interesting night.

First of all it would have to be my wife, Marella, next Christine Lagarde, Ian Hislop, Dame Diane Rigg, Johnny Lydon, Picasso, Vivienne Westwood, Liam Gallagher and, to keep things real, a handful of old school mates.


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