Global architect HOK has signed a groundbreaking agreement with four European practices to share expertise and local knowledge.
The firm has formed the HOK European Network with practices in Paris, Warsaw, Madrid and Frankfurt to in response to requests for a more widespread local presence from multinational clients.

The firms in the network are Arte Charpentier in Paris, Altiplan of Brussels, Madrid-based Estudio Lamela and Novotny Mahner in Frankfurt.

Paul Purvis, HOK's European marketing director, said: "We have had clients like Cisco Systems in Paris ask: 'Why don't we have people based there full-time?' The bottom line is, if the clients didn't want it we wouldn't be doing it." He added that the strategic alliances could lead to full mergers. He said: "If both parties feel it is the right thing to do, a merger is possible but some firms in the alliance are saying this is not on the horizon." Purvis refused to comment on which of the four firms might merge with HOK first.

HOK has no immediate plans to expand the network, but Purvis would not rule out adding further members should the market demand it.

If both parties feel it is the right thing to do, a merger is possible

Paul Purvis, HOK

The firms will work together on a project-by-project basis when clients request a local presence. The firms will also harmonise their computer software and eventually connect up to a wide area network. In addition, marketing staff will work together to promote HOK and the practices in the network.

HOK is already working with Estudio Lamela on a hotel on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Luis Vidal, managing director of Estudio Lamela, praised the excellent working relationship between his firm and HOK, adding that this led the firms to make the agreement more concrete.

A Novotny Mahner spokesperson said the tie-up would give it a presence in London and access to a Europe-wide service delivery network.