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I have enjoyed watching my designs and sketches come to life, providing homes for thousands of families – it’s the most rewarding part of my job. Despite the obvious advances in technology that allow 2D and 3D drawings and models to be created relatively quickly, I still prefer the freehand method, and which allows me to produce a much more creative interpretation of each site’s potential.
Before putting pencil to paper, we undertake considerable analysis work before starting on design for the development. This includes investigating the local architecture, the demographics and the location of the site, as it’s important that the overall master plan, and each individual home is carefully designed to maximise certain features, views and landscapes. I also need to ensure that there is a mix of open and private areas, so residents don’t feel too exposed, or too cut off. This could mean avoiding long straight roads, and using winding paths instead, or creating small clusters of homes, rather than the more traditional terraced rows.
Of course, as a designer I am fully aware that people don’t just buy bricks and mortar – they are buying into a place. It’s important that they feel at home in that place, and this is where design can really add value to a house, a development or an entire neighbourhood. We approach each site individually and deliver a concept and design that works for that particular site and for the surrounding neighbourhoods and existing residents. This starts from the site entrance and continues right through to the floorplans and design concepts of each home, including the careful configuration of rooms and the creation of light and space to ensure each house commands the best possible outlook. I’m particularly pleased with my designs at Beaulieu Park in Chelmsford and at Wickhurst Green in Broadbridge Heath (pictured).
Design detail is very important, even at the masterplan stage. It’s important to evoke a strong sense of identity and character with my sketches, and convey the type of lifestyle that will appeal to the intended residents. If the design is not consistent in every detail, even down to the style of windows, or type of brick facia, the scheme will lose that appeal.
The other crucial element in design detail is of course to make sure that the scheme is achievable from a construction point of view. With advances in construction and constantly improving energy efficiency products and standards, we are able to build better, more efficient homes, and I work very closely with the technical team to ensure that my designs are deliverable.
The beauty of this job is that it is so varied, and the possibilities of design continually evolve, so for me, there is always something new to learn. I have been fortunate to work on a wide range of development throughout my time with Countryside, and it’s great to have watched my work come to fruition and see people living in the homes I helped to design.
David DeVries, Design Director
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