Architecture in the 2020s – Interview with Richard Tinto – Tinto Architecture

Architecture is of significant importance and can dramatically change the way in which we live, work and play! Interest in architecture is spiking as a result of a merging of all of these 3 components throughout the COVID pandemic.

We interviewed Richard Tinto of Aberdeen-based Tinto Architecture to discuss architecture and the emerging trends that are becoming apparent during the 2020s.

Why and when did you set up Tinto Architecture?
I set up Tinto Architecture in 2004 as a limited company. Aberdeen provides an exciting environment that allowed us to work on a variety of innovative projects.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a result of running your business?
Starting to run a business at 24 years of age was very challenging as I didn’t have significant experience to rely on. I also trusted a number of individuals that perhaps were not as committed as I had hoped, therefore, highlighting the fact I need to consider peoples’ intentions and values.

What is your ‘why’?
My why is to transform the world, via space and place. Through great work and human connection, we can improve the world. Architecture is an industry which allows your work to be imprinted onto the world permanently, therefore impacting on individuals’ lives infinitely.

How do you believe green building design and the movement to Net Zero will affect Architecture as an industry?
The biggest responsibility for everyone is the drive to sustainable practices. There is an urgent requirement to move to net zero in a very constrained timeframe. Architecture provides a great opportunity to positively affect that by making green choices in terms of the design, specifications and the life cycle of buildings – ridding the short-term investment cycle in certain projects.

How are you factoring in extreme weather conditions within your designs?
This revolves around the ‘why’ extreme weather conditions are happening, with the overarching reasoning behind these conditions being global warming. Designs need to be environmentally sustainable in order to reduce the potential damaging impact. However, extreme weather can be mitigated through technical solutions, provided there is significant budget in place.

How is technology changing your work?
Building Information Modelling (BIM) delivers lower risk and higher value buildings, simply through the collaboration available.
The shift towards automation & robotics allows for a huge opportunity in particular to automated construction.
3D Modelling Printing & Virtual Reality allows for visualisation of projects in real time.
Layering of BIM & building a 3D model significantly reduces risks, as it allows for certainty that the project can be delivered, whilst also ensuring that the creative element is not lost. Passing this on to constructors allows for an almost seamless process.

What are your thoughts on ‘Connected Cities’?
Technology allows us to consider how cities work in a different way. Connecting cities facilitates a level of control over the environment, Built Environment & Internet of Things allows for artificial intelligence to improve our experience and deliver a more sustainable environment. Humans managing artificial intelligence effectively will allow for a huge opportunity to improve human experiences throughout our cities.

What is your opinion on the recycling of old structures?
Refurbishment and retrofit provides a massive opportunity as legacy buildings can create the character of locations. The technologies available allow us upgrade and consider potential better outcomes for these buildings, without losing the historic design.

How will COVID impact where we live, work and play?
COVID has accelerated our ability to work collaboratively and remotely, however, there is still a vital connective human element. There seems to be a shift from the requirement to be constantly stuck to a desk, to a more collaborative space that can act effectively as a workspace. There has been a repurpose of spaces and what individuals themselves maintain as comfortable working conditions.
In a residential setting individuals have become more certain on what they want from their homes.
In a retail / leisure setting the space individuals are not currently as certain on what they want these settings to be.

What are your thoughts on modular and prefab structures?
The modular community allows for a huge benefit to retrofit projects. On new builds this allows for less preliminary costs and contingencies; in the future this will allow for modular buildings to become more cost-effective buildings.

How popular is architecture as a career choice for undergraduates?
It is very popular, and I would encourage younger people to get into the industry for the right values, i.e. driven to transform the world around us. I would encourage individuals to get into the built environment, as this too allows for individuals to transform the world around us.

What are the attributes required to be successful as an architect?
Curiosity, to understand and investigate a client’s brief, combined with creativity, to resolve and provide an appropriate solution to the brief.
Have an interest in technology, as with the number of innovations i.e. – Internet of Things (IoT) there are opportunities to be involved in a lot of technological software and systems.

Why do you like taking on overseas projects?
Having to forge out opportunities, in an area outside my comfort zone, is something that drives me. I aim to transform the world, not just Scotland or Aberdeen!

What have you learned on your entrepreneurial journey?
There is a variety of support from a range of business owners for when you need it. Scottish Business Network (SBN) allows entrepreneurs to collaborate and support other entrepreneurs throughout their business journey. It is a great space for Scottish entrepreneurs around the world to collaborate and create genuine relationships.

What have you been getting out of your vlogging sessions?
These episodes allow me to expose myself in a vulnerable situation, which helps me to grow and potentially assist others that may find themselves in difficulties. My long-term goal would be to positively affect the built environment industry via these vlogging sessions

With thanks to Richard Tinto, Tinto Architecture