Cycling Score Platinum certificate for One Portwall Square

We’ve championed bike power for a while and knew that our first development in Bristol would have exceptional cycling facilities at its core. So it is very exciting to receive our official platinum accreditation from the team at CyclingScore.

As well as plenty of secure cycle parking for tenants and visitors, we’ve thought a lot about the needs of cyclists and are creating excellent shower and changing rooms and lots of locker spaces and storage. All designed to encourage a greener and healthier way to get to and from our building.

Bristol has led the way as a cycling city. And One Portwall Square now provides it with an office that gives cyclists the amenities they need. One of the many features that make it a new office for Bristol.

One Portwall Square is Wired Certified Platinum

The Nord team are feeling justifiably proud as it’s been confirmed by WiredScore that One Portwall Square is officially Wired Certified Platinum. We are one of only two buildings in Bristol to achieve this top accreditation confirming that our new build office will be one of the best in the country for broadband and telecom infrastructure and digital connectivity.

We’ve always aimed to create a genuinely new office for Bristol. This is an important step for us in demonstrating that we are delivering a commercial workplace that sets the bar for office accommodation.  And it’s just the beginning.

One Portwall Square Begins On Site

We were delighted to mark the official start on site of our new build commercial office, One Portwall Square, with a small celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony.  Amidst much applause, we handed the site over to the demolition team who will now begin taking down the redundant squash court that has stood empty for many years, making way for our new type of office for Bristol.

It was great to have so many of our dedicated design and project team with us to mark the event as we begin the next stage of this exciting project.


As detailed design progresses on our Bristol new build office, we admire the craft and value of the architectural model-maker. The use of models to support our thinking and decision making process is invaluable and a useful reminder that whilst technology advances and enables, there are still occasions when real form and physical matter can not be bettered. Plus it is a joy to take apart and put back together!

The Backhouse Journey

We’ve been proud to support and advise Backhouse since its earliest days and have always shared its vision that UK new homes can and should be better than the current market standard. Over two years have passed since we first became involved and Backhouse’s journey has been a terrific one to share.

From the initial concept site in Castle Cary, the housebuilder now has five sites across SW England representing over 250 units. Each of these new neighbourhoods is thoughtfully designed by top architectural teams from practices including AHMM and Clifton Emery and the expertise, care and creativity in the design of the houses themselves and the communal areas and public spaces have created developments that are interesting, uplifting and innovative.

And we are not the only ones admiring the generous layouts and focus on light and space.  Both The Housing Design Awards 2019 and Property Week’s Resi Awards 2019 have shortlisted Backhouse in recognition of its use of good design to drive quality in the residential sector. New Homes have never looked so good.

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New Designers and the BCC

Once again we were excited to visit the New Designers exhibition at the Business Design Centre and see the furniture created by the very talented students from the Building Crafts College. Working with a range of materials and deploying skill and craftmanship of the highest standard, the impressive exhibits were a culmination of two years of intensive study and demonstrated the important role this specialist college plays in training and developing the range of construction, conservation and building craft skills on offer.

Congratulations to all students and well done to those who were given a John Lewis and award of recognition.

Carving at Clerkenwell Close

We are proud supporters of The Building Crafts College and the work they do teaching, training, guiding and empowering students and apprentices to develop skills within the building trades.  From carpentry and joinery to stonemasonry and furniture making, these crafts make a huge difference to construction projects and our built environment and provide lasting benefit. We have launched a carving project for students in conjunction with Amin Taha to enable them to develop and showcase their masonry skills at Amin’s Clerkenwell Close studio.  Although just a few weeks in, the results are already impressive and we look forward to seeing the pieces evolve in the coming months.

Nord and Orms Employee Ownership Trust

Richard has been appointed as Chair of the board of trustees of the Orms Employee Ownership Trust and we are delighted to be involved in the next stage of evolution of Orms.  Nord and Orms have worked together over several decades and we admire their design approach, collaborative culture and ability to create simple yet elegant and functional buildings which enhance their built environment.

The move by Orms to structure their business as an Employee Ownership Trust allows the business to develop positively with greater staff interaction and engagement and we are thrilled to be able to play a role in shaping an exciting future for Orms along with the other trustees and the Employee Council.

Thoughts on Texas

Recently, Richard was fortunate to make a trip to Texas to see work by some art and architecture heroes.

The Nasher Sculpture Center and Garden by Renzo Piano and Peter Walker respectively is an oasis in the middle of downtown Dallas. The architecture is subdued and elegant, almost deferential to an amazing garden where Mr Nasher has adopted a Noah’s Ark approach, though he only has one of everything (Moore, Hepworth, Rodin, Serra, Leger etc).

Renzo also gets in on the act along the highway in the sister city of Fort Worth, designing a respectful Pavilion accompaniment to the beautiful Kimbell Museum by Louis Kahn. To pass an hour or two in and around Kahn’s building is a very calming experience, the simplicity of the detailing in noticeable contrast to the Pavilion’s overtly displayed precise engineering.

On via planes and automobiles to Marfa, a place in the middle of nowhere that is hard to describe. Surreal, charming and surprising is a start. It was put on the map by Donald Judd of course and a visit to the Chinati is a pilgrimage that will live long in the memory. As will Robert Irwin’s invited piece, truly somewhere between art and architecture, something to experience if you possibly can.

The takeaway from these visits is that whilst they are all impressive in their own way, beautifully executed simplicity wins every time, in every context, be it city centre, suburban or rural.

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The Carpenter, The Joiner and The Furniture Maker

The recent Building Crafts College end of year show at Carpenters’ Hall was a fitting culmination of a year of training, teaching and guidance from the dedicated tutors at this specialist college which Nord is proud to support. The show demonstrated the breadth of skills developed at the BCC ranging from carpentry and copper pipework to fine woodwork and furniture making.

The joy and reward of making things and seeing things made reminds us how important it is to keep cultivating and advancing the technical skills and trades that underpin our construction industry. One of the reasons for starting our Help for Apprentices Fund was to make sure that the enthusiasm and latent talent in young adults was captured and nurtured, particularly at a time when the shortage of construction skills is becoming ever more evident. Investing in school programmes, apprenticeships and other training courses ensures that the talent pool is supported, which in turn brings huge benefits to our sector.

We were similarly heartened by a recent trip to the Southwark Construction Skills Centre at Elephant and Castle. This training hub, housed in a dedicated facility at Lendlease’s Elephant Park regeneration site, was established by Southwark Council in partnership with Lendlease to provide on-site training. It is estimated that 60% of those that pass through the Skills Centre – whether they be school leavers or older trainees –subsequently move into an employed role. So not only does the industry obtain those much needed construction skills, but the local economy and community also benefit through employment gains.

The capabilities of the skilled maker are not however limited to the construction site. The talented final year students of the BCC’s Fine Woodwork and Furniture Making programme moved their exquisite pieces from Carpenters’ Hall to the New Designers exhibition at The Business Design Centre. It is here that the very best in innovative and original furniture and product designs are showcased with offerings from other universities, colleges and design schools. But as lead tutor Neil Austin explained, all the students on his course first needed to complete a joinery programme so that their technical expertise complemented their creative and design skills.

The pieces exhibited were exceptional and finished by the students themselves to an exacting standard. Two pieces were picked out by John Lewis as part of their top ten show highlights. And one of these pieces also received the prestigious award for the standout design of the entire show. Congratulations to Rowena Edwards and her mobile drinks unit which we hope will be put into production soon.

The impact of the skilled maker cannot be underestimated. They bring expertise and innovation to the sectors in which they operate and enable our construction, architectural and design industries to thrive. Trainees, apprentices, students and post-graduates contribute in a vast number of ways but rely on the support of specialist teachers, government funding and the private sector to nurture their talent. Investment in today’s makers contributes to tomorrow’s economy. And we are delighted to be a small part of that cycle.

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