Phil Clark meets the chairman of CALdes, the firm that’s integrating design, surveying and 21st-century technology.
What does CALdes do?

It is a 20-strong design and surveying firm with offices in London and Aldershot. It also offers e-commerce solutions such as project management web sites that keep all parties up to date on developments.

Why did you set up your own firm?

I wanted to combine being an architect with surveying. As well as producing designs for buildings, we offer calculations, such as how many parking spaces should go with an office of such-and-such a size. Each of our design models comes with financial data and timetables. It’s a commercial vision as well as an architectural one.

What kind of schemes do you work on?

Transport, residential and sports projects. Often we get involved in projects before inception, advising clients on different architectural scenarios. The London office handles this and the Aldershot office works on the projects.

What’s the most exciting project you have been involved with?

It’s one we are working on at the moment – the redevelopment of West Hampstead train station, which includes a residential complex. We had to analyse the requirements of Railtrack and the local community and work through the engineering restrictions on the site. We have also set up a project web site for team members to post minutes of meetings and drawings, as well as a webcam for the site so that the public can see updated views of the project.

Are you a bit of a techie, then?

I carry a laptop around with me. It allows me to show clients images and presentations whenever I like. I am also keen on the Internet, as it can save construction teams time and money. It gives them a central collation point and saves on post.

What do you do in a typical day?

I get up at 6am and tidy up notes made at the previous day’s meetings. I tend to have a strategic role in the company, so most of the rest of the day will be spent in more meetings – on site, with planning officials or looking at new technology opportunities. Each day is different, which is fascinating.

What do you like about running your own firm?

Control. The ability to drive the direction of the business where our clients want to go. Working to ensure our success and growth, and developing the right internal community in the office.

What’s the worst thing about it?

Getting clients to pay up or dealing with local authorities, which have become more and more obstructive to the creative process.

Do you miss the early days of being an architect?

Sometimes I miss the thrill and excitement of design. But any architect’s role these days is only about 5% actual design. The job is is more about managing the design process.

What are your plans for the firm’s future?

To grow the products we are offering, such as project management programs and information systems for property firms. We want to integrate them into a pay-per-use system that clients can access on the Internet. We are looking to float in the next three years.

What do you do to relax?

As much sport as I can. Any sport where I can find someone else bad enough to play with me. I also cycle and run once every week.

Personal Information

Age 44 Current job Chairman, CALdes (which stands for calculation and design) Employment history Set up CALdes in 1982, two years after qualifying as an architect. He is also a qualified surveyor. Qualifications RIBA, RICS Lives South Kensington, London Salary About £35 000 Drives Mercedes (“a boring model” ) Family Wife, Deborah, and daughter, Felicity, aged one