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'It's not rocket science' says HUB Residential's chief

Steve Sanham, development director at HUB Residential, on delivering ‘simple’ homes and his hunt for problem-solving architects

What is HUB’s ethos and what are you are hoping to achieve? Simplicity is key. We are delivering beautiful homes for ordinary Londoners. We enjoy working with creative people to ensure our buildings are rational, well designed and sustainable. We are being careful to create a sustainable, profitable company focused on the mid-market. It could be easy to get excited by other opportunities in the more prime markets, but we’re comfortable that there’s work to be done in this area.

What makes you different to other housebuilders? I’m not going to pretend it is rocket science. Housebuilders build houses and developers develop sites. We’re interested in immersing ourselves in communities and adding positively to them. We invest emotionally in our projects, and we are confident in our decisions.

Is your model just applicable to London or could it be rolled out in other cities? HUB is focused on London, but the ‘model’ could be taken worldwide if wanted. We have a simple approach which values the end user and seeks to provide the best design solution. Before joining HUB, I worked at Urban Splash. We delivered Chimney Pot Park [], a community of upside down houses in Salford. Combining the best of classic Victorian terrace design with a new interior created a real community. That kind of approach can be taken anywhere.

What are you working on? We have two projects scheduled to start early next year. We have recently submitted a planning application for Hoola in Royal Victoria Docks. We have done intensive work over the past few months with CZWG for 360 apartments in two towers. CZWG is hugely experienced and we have found it innovative and fun to work with too. Victoria Square in Acton will provide 152 flats for the private rented sector. We have had a lot of fun with the architect, a new practice called Newground Architecture, interrogating what should be done differently.

What do you want from anarchitect? An intelligent, unencumbered approach to problem solving and design. We look for people that we enjoy working with and who will enjoy working with us.

What do you think about the government’s attempts to drive development? It’s a good time to be in residential property, particularly in London. Help to Buy is helping people to get onto the property ladder, but it is having an effect on prices. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the scheme is helping homeowners as much as it helps housebuilders.

27 November 2013 - The Architects Journal