LEADING THE WAY // KEN PROMOTED TO STUDIO LEADER
Explore the insights of Ken Seakins with us, recently promoted studio leader at VIA Architects, as he delves into his career journey, philosophies and aspirations for the studio’s future. In this interview, Ken shares his perspective on architectural innovation, leadership and the profound impact of design on society.
Q: How does it feel to take on the new role to lead to the studio?
I look forward to the challenge of the new role, particularly the chance to dedicate more time to the entire studio. I’m excited to pass on the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over my 35 years in architecture.
Q: As a studio leader, what aspects of architectural design and leadership are you most passionate about and how do you plan to incorporate them into your new position?
Architecture plays such an important role in our everyday lives and the process of good design requires time to be absorbed and evolve towards achieving the ultimate design goal and built form outcome.
There are many factors that contribute to this, so having had experience across a wide spectrum of architectural typologies equips me to navigate these complexities. I am eager to integrate the insights gained from working with creative designers and my comprehensive understanding of construction to enhance the knowledge of the studio from both perspectives.
Q: Can you share some insights into your architectural style and design ethos?
I’ve had what is probably seen as an unusual grounding into the architectural realm, spanning over 35 years of dedicated work in a small design studio before joining VIA Architects in 2019. This background provided me with amazing insights into the architectural design process and the role that exemplary architectural design can plays in our everyday lives, particularly for our clients and the wider community.
This experience has fostered an appreciation for practical, modern design, characterised by simplicity and adaptability. I’m drawn to concepts that merge functionality with aesthetics, always keeping the end user’s needs at the fore of the design.
Q: Throughout your career in architecture, what specific areas have you developed a deep expertise?
Instead of focusing on a single facet of architecture, my strength lies in comprehending the entire process. This enables me to offer insights and experiences that can steer design considerations in innovative directions.
Whether suggesting an alternative perspective on a design issue or reimagining a construction methodology, I believe thinking creatively adds substantial value to both the design process and the end outcome.
Q: What qualities do believe are essential for effective studio leadership and how do you embody these equalities in your own approach?
The ability to lead by example in a manner that encourages a collaborative and positive working environment within and between the project teams is essential. This is achieved by employing teaching, active listening and encouragement. In my leadership, I am mindful of varying skill levels and stages of architectural careers present within the team.
Q: Can you recall a memorable project from your career so far?
The projects that bring satisfaction and evoke fond memories are those where the initial ideas are born, sometimes well before my direct involvement. It’s the combined effort of countless dedicated individuals, working collaboratively over years and sometimes even decades, that deeply resonates with me.
The unwavering dedication of these teams is what makes the eventual accomplishment of their goals immensely satisfying. I have been fortunate to be involved in many projects over my career and it is these experiences that bring the greatest satisfaction in working in architecture.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most significant impact that architecture can have on society?
We spend so much time within architecture whether it is at home, at work or during leisure time. Architecture should enable the user experience to be one that enhances our lives through a sense comfort, belonging, enjoyment and create environments to learn, reflect, grow and inspire.
Q: What are some of the trends we can expect to see across the sectors that VIA specialise in?
As we look to the future, addressing the swift evolution of technology becomes significant. This is particularly relevant in maintaining connections between generations. The younger community, growing up in a vastly different world from that of 30-40 years ago, calls for architectural trends that can bridge this gap and ensure the continued engagement and interaction of all age groups.
Q: What excites you most about architecture and what are your aspirations for the studio in terms of projects, design achievements and team achievements in the coming years?
Architecture that instils lasting memories of that experience is what I find most exciting, from a building that is 500 years old to the one that I have most recently visited.
As for the studio, my primary focus has always been to ensure complete client satisfaction across the design, delivery and built form phases. This journey offers our team valuable lessons and insights, fostering the development of skills that drive continuous improvement in our daily endeavours.
This pursuit aligns with our overarching goal: nurturing strong connections with our clients. By consistently delivering high-quality architectural solutions, we not only cultivate ongoing relationships but also open doors for fresh opportunities, propelling VIA forward.
Ultimately, my goal is to educate, inspire, share and impart knowledge for the next group of leaders at VIA.
Photography by: Jaime Diaz-Berrio