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Trail Architects: Bright future ahead for Perth firm despite Covid-19 impact

The firm is working on the Linton Hotel scheme in the Yorkshire dales national park..

A young firm of architects based in Perth is anticipating a bright future despite challenges brought on by Covid-19 and Brexit.

Trail Architects, which will celebrate its fourth birthday next month, has worked on projects all over Britain.

Future plans for the company, which has its HQ in Carpenter Street, could include an office south of the border.

The firm’s architectural project administrator, Lauren McIntyre, said Trail was started by talented architects and architectural technicians who had good working relationships together over many years.

The team at Trail Architects.

She added: “The combination of approach and experience of those involved – ranging from managing multiple offices around the UK and abroad, to delivering multi-million-pound buildings nationally – was considered a great asset to a growing practice.

“This wealth of experience was balanced well with talented and enthusiastic young staff, who were willing to learn the craft of architecture – creating a beneficial dynamic for a new young business with a refreshing approach.”

Trail Architects across the UK

Trail began with a team of nine, and there are currently around 10 full-time equivalent people.

Lauren said they were very keen to work holistically in rural locations to provide jobs, housing and commercial opportunities.

She said: “This is important to us and we have a unique skillset across our team to suit those demands.

“The team’s cross-section of experience has allowed us to approach each project with a knowledge base that spans across several sectors – including social and mainstream housing and leisure tourism.

“We often work to create holistic masterplans unique to each site and context to provide pragmatic, larger-scale solutions.

“We have been very lucky to be given these opportunities and work to exclude no projects or sectors.”

Lauren said Trail has taken on work a number of established organisations across the UK over the last few years.

“The clients we work for vary massively – from mature organisations with development experience to early-stage developers and young organisations.

“We have close relationships with housing associations nationally, local councils and contractors.

“Plus we also currently have work with individuals, one-off clients and charities.”

Notable work in Inverness and Yorkshire

Lauren said Trail’s two most-recognised projects to date were the Raining’s Stairs in Inverness and the Linton Hotel scheme in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

She added: “Raining’s Stairs was a particularly rewarding project developed with a private developer on behalf of the Highland Housing Alliance and Highland Council.

Raining Stones project by Trail Architects.

“The reaction of tenants, plus numerous awards won, general press reaction and attention received were exceptional.”

The Raining’s Stairs development, which features 16 residential flats, is located in a part of Inverness with a long history.

The stairs were named after John Raining, a wealthy merchant from Norwich.

In 1726, he donated £1,200 to establish a fund to support charitable schools in the Highlands.

As regards Linton Hotel, Lauren explained it was a multi-million pound sustainable project developed entirely through lockdown.

The hotel and leisure complex is under construction at a former World War II evacuees’ camp.

Lauren added: “The planning, ecology and rural setting all presented their own challenges for the team.

“The award nominations are an achievement we are very proud of.”

The impact of Covid-19 on Trail Architects

But Covid-19 has impacted Trail’s growth.

Lauren explained: “It’s fair to say that we had made significant progress pre-pandemic on a number of fronts.

The site plan of the Linton hotel project.

“As we’re sure is the case for many companies, our development as a business has slowed slightly, while the Covid-19 situation becomes more stable.

“We have gone back to a cautious but optimistic approach working toward the business growing and progressing.

“We have been able to catch our breath during the pandemic.

“Now we seek to focus on quality and type of project rather than being constrained by financial matters.

“The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 led to a number of challenges across the whole construction industry.

“Those included material supply, which affects the industry as a whole.

“The implications of these events we don’t believe have been fully unravelled, and we as an industry will not understand the full implications for some time.”

Efforts to expand Trail Architects

Lauren said Trail is continuing to explore further opportunities throughout the UK.

She added: “We are currently investigating new approaches in social housing and new models for quality and liveable staff accommodation in both north Wales and in the Highlands.

Looking to the next few years, Lauren said efforts will continue to grow Trail’s portfolio domestically.

She added: “We are yet to establish a well-known local base – which is something we would like to change.

“It would be very rewarding to have the opportunity to deliver more high-quality developments closer to home.

“We continually discuss potentially expanding into an England office should this become necessary following potential political changes in the UK.”