Respected Business with a Flair for Solutions to Design Problems; Alun Thorne Spoke to an Engineering Firm That Is Sitting Comfortably after Nearly Two Decades

The Birmingham Post (England), April 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Respected Business with a Flair for Solutions to Design Problems; Alun Thorne Spoke to an Engineering Firm That Is Sitting Comfortably after Nearly Two Decades


Byline: Alun Thorne

ony Rundle and Nick Reed relish other people's problems.

TTT Whether it's a piece of land that would appear to be unus -able through to structures of all shapes and sizes, s this is when Couch Consulting Engineers comes into its own.

Formed almost two decades ago, Couch has been growing year on year -apart from during the dark days of the credit crunch - and has established it-t self as one of the region's most respected engineering firms.

Tony believes it is the firm's multidiscipline offer that has served it well over the years and the fact that rarely is there a project that they haven't been able to deliver with interests across the spectrum from affordable housing to commercial building design to largescale remediation.

"If one area is tailing off then another tends to be picking up," said Tony. "Education has been particularly good in recent years and we have done quite a lot in the city with people like University College and Birmingham University. It is a sector that dried up for a while but is coming back and we are currently doing an academy in Telford and have been involved in around 20 primary schools in Birmingham."

The company has recently been work-k ing on a difficult remediation project for a retail park in Edinburgh, one of a number of schemes that challenge the expertise and experience of the company.

"It's often the up front stuff before a project even gets to planning that can offer the largest challenges," said Nick. "But we also find that if you get the remediation work right then the structural work can often follow."

But for all the major projects - public and private - that the company has been involved in which include two significant schemes for JCB, the current reality is that the environment is a very different one today than just a few years ago.

"I think we are certainly seeing public sector projects are now being driven more by cost and educational buildings are probably becoming more bland - the sexy bits are probably being cut out with that cantilever corner now being seen as something of an expensive luxury. We still see plenty of debate about the New Library for Birmingham and you have to wonder if the design decision would have been the same today five years on."

The pair admit that the bigger projects are few and far between as large-scale development remains relatively scarce although Tony is satisfied that track record and strong relationships has seen the company emerge reasonably unscathed from the recession. …

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