Blog posts by Alex Bell

A Lesson in Crisis Management

For 5 minutes of your time I’ll offer a slice of hope. Those who know me, know of my love of space and astronomy. Mankind has always looked to the stars for answers, and remarkably we have a recent tale that offers applicable lessons to our current predicament. 50 years ago, NASA delivered a masterclass in crisis management. The crew of Apollo 13 were returned safely to Earth after suffering a catastrophic failure of their spacecraft. Reviewing the decisions taken during that crisis can apply to many other scenarios. For those running a business, there are clear parallels. For anyone… READ MORE

Field Marshal

The quantity of electronic information and complexity of IT systems can quickly combine to overwhelm and befuddle any hardworking professional. Despite most company servers having enormous capacity, individuals’ C drives are packed full of work documents and emails, ‘organised’ into Escher-like folder structures that no-one else understands. Furthermore, your IT department have another great idea to rationalise your contacts database (again) but the finance department refuse to play ball as their software only runs on XP. Stop and imagine a utopian future when you have all your project data, all your business contacts, all project correspondence, all drawing issues and… READ MORE


When songwriter & producer Brian Wilson played the rest of the Beach Boys the songs that would become the Pet Sounds album, they were distinctly underwhelmed. Brian plugged away at the piano presenting the sketches for each song that would become their classic album – but the Boys were not impressed. They thought he’d flipped (which indeed he did, but not until a whole while later). Right now he was at the top of his game, so what was the problem? As he played, Brian (and only Brian) could hear what wasn’t there: where the percussion would sit, how the… READ MORE

A new direction | Alex Bell

The story so far… Alex joined DKA in 2002 – the year the Euro was introduced across the 12 EU member states and Gareth Gates’ Unchained Melody topped the charts for a (staggering) 4 weeks. After 6 years at the University of Bath, Alex graduated as the recipient of the RIBA Wessex Prize for design. With the world at his feet, he accepted a position at DKA, 1.4 miles from the University. Alex says “I’ve been lucky enough to run projects across many sectors over 15 years. As a young architect I designed motor dealerships and primary schools, then commercial… READ MORE

DKA Presents | by Alex Bell

Every fortnight at DKA we take it in turns to present something design based to the whole team and we’re calling it DKA presents. Presenting to our peers means we get the opportunity to practice our presenting skills and share our passions with our colleagues. We get anonymous feedback from the audience to help us develop our presenting style and everyone gets to eat pizza! So all in all, everyone looks forward to every other Wednesday lunchtime! We asked Alex to tell us about his recent presentation for the blog: I decided to use my interest in astronomy and astrophotography… READ MORE

Constructing Excellence South West Conference

I guess every industry has its acronyms. At the Bristol Marriott on Friday 21st May the delegates got a goody bag full as the various conference speakers imparted knowledge and wisdom about their selected topic for this year’s Constructing Excellence South West Conference. We were instructed to keep our phones ON, set to stun, and to tweet furiously throughout. OMG1 I thought, YOLO2 The day didn’t start well IMHO3. Incumbent Bristol Mayor George Ferguson was AWOL4 and unable to deliver a key note address as he was stuck on an international visit. Having heard George speak many times, I would… READ MORE

Ecobuild 2016

I am becoming something of an Ecobuild veteran having made the journey to Excel over the past four or five years. It is often a barometer for the industry or trends – remember when PV suppliers took up half of the south hall? The most apparent difference in 2016 is the size – only one of the halls was used. Perhaps this was a desire for quality rather than quantity or simply to make the visitor experience more manageable. Getting around that much area in one day became practically impossible for the average desk jockey. I needed to visit a… READ MORE

Keep on ‘in keeping’ on

‘But is it in keeping?’ Ask any architect – their most hated phrase is probably ‘in keeping’. Two horrid little words customarily trotted out as a reaction to anything new. It implies, why spoil what is here with THAT? To the designer it is an illogical rejection, inferring that whatever has gone before has reached such a zenith of design and social engineering that nothing in our wildest imaginations could hope to improve the local environment other than more of exactly the bloody same. If we tell a child that each drawing must be ‘in keeping’ with their last then… READ MORE

BBC Three Counties – Tales of the unexpected

When we first met with the Editor of BBC Three Counties Radio we were given our brief in two parts. The first was the technical brief, driven largely by BBC Standards similar across all similar local radio stations. Compliance with this part of the brief would be relatively simple; provide this number of rooms at these sizes with a given technical performance. The second part of the brief was less easily defined;  it required the building to embody the values of the station, reach out to the listeners and create an environment to get the best out of the station… READ MORE

Midfield Dynamo – Advice for recent graduates

Creative people have good ideas, but it takes a team of creative people to achieve great things. Neil Armstrong didn’t get to the Moon on his own, and Damien Hirst doesn’t always pickle his own cows. For some people, recognition is their reward. For others it is enough knowing they were there and getting their hands dirty. For most, I imagine, the design process is where they find enjoyment, solving problems elegantly and learning new things. Within a creative team everyone can flourish. Together the team is greater than the sum of its parts with each person bringing different skills,… READ MORE