Be First, the regeneration arm of Barking and Dagenham Council, today announces the winners of its £35m design framework launched earlier this year to seek new architect and design team partners from 2023 to 2027. The design framework partners will support the delivery of Be First’s ambitions to build up to 4,000 homes in Barking and Dagenham over the next four years. 

After receiving over 75 applications, Be First has selected eight final consortiums that demonstrated the tailored, multi-disciplinary approach required and a considered understanding of the character and culture of the borough. The winners of the framework are: 

  • Lead organisation: Levitt Bernstein Associates Ltd 
  • Subconsultant team: Etude Consulting, Mott MacDonald Ltd, Studio JA Projects Ltd, Archio Ltd 
  • Lead organisation: Haworth Tompkins Limited 
  • Subconsultant team: Citizen Design Bureau, Office Sian, LDA, Heyne Tillett Steel, XCO2 Energy Ltd 
  • Lead organisation: Pitman Tozer Architects 
  • Subconsultant team: Mole Architects Ltd, Singh Fudge Architects, Turkington Design Studio Ltd, Webb Yates Engineers 
  • Lead organisation: White Arkitekter 
  • Subconsultant team: Threefold Architects, NOOMA Studio, Civic Engineers, Skelly & Couch, Atelier Ten 
  • Lead organisation: Maccreanor Lavington Ltd 
  • Subconsultant team: Archio, Gatti Routh Rhodes Ltd, Useful Group, BBUK Studio Ltd, Sweco UK Ltd 
  • Lead organisation: Mikhail Riches Ltd 
  • Subconsultant team: RCKa, Kristofer Adelaide Architecture, BBUK Studio Ltd, Greengauge Building Energy Consultants Ltd, Expedition Engineering, Simple Works 
  • Lead organisation: Mae Architects Ltd 
  • Subconsultant team: WSP, Planit-ie, Jas Bhalla Architects, Fisher Cheng Architects 
  • Lead organisation: PRP Architecture LLP 
  • Subconsultant team: Studio JA Projects Ltd, Native Studio Ltd, Urban Movement Ltd, WP3 Limited, Hodkinson Consultancy, Curtins Consulting Ltd 

Be First and its partners will use the £35m design framework to help deliver sustainable schemes with attractive homes, creating communities that residents are proud of. The aim of the framework is to facilitate Be First working with a smaller pool of partners headed by Lead architects collaborating with SME architects and consultants, enabling the company’s partners to develop a deep understanding of Barking and Dagenham and Be First’s requirements as a client. 

The new, architecture-led framework will replace the existing design Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) and will combine the experience of established teams who will advocate for the type of sustainable development Be First strives to deliver, while considering the overarching financial climate. 

Of the larger architectural practices selected, 75% have at least one female at Director / Partner level and 25% have at least one person of colour at Director/Partner level. Furthermore, 50% of the smaller architectural practices were founded by females and 57% were founded by a person of colour. Be First has also focused its social value requirements through the framework by collaborating with the Open City Accelerate programme and the London Neighbourhood Scholarship to continue to champion and improve diversity in the sector. With Barking and Dagenham being one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country, inclusivity and representation has always been a key consideration for Be First.  

Be First formed the framework with the intention of delivering high-quality homes for Barking and Dagenham, but it is also open to other contracting local authorities to deliver their own development projects. 

Caroline Harper, Deputy Managing Director at Be First said: 

“It’s been a phenomenal year for Be First and establishing our design framework partners will ensure we can build upon the scale and ambition of our last framework while diversifying the delivery routes to continue providing for Barking and Dagenham. 

“We strive to ensure that the homes we deliver are tailored toward the needs and requirements of the tenant– more often than not, the everyday working person that wants a comfortable, warm, and practical home to work from or relax in.” 

Jacob Willson, Head of Design at Be First:  

“We’re committed to developing new high-quality, sustainable, and affordable communities that deliver social value for the people living here in Barking and Dagenham, and the designer framework is central to achieving this ambition. 

“There are a range of significant challenges facing the construction industry, meaning creative thinking is crucial. This framework brings together established teams with micro and small organisations that can combine experience with fresh ideas from small practices to create innovative solutions.” 

Linda Thiel, Director at White Arkitekter, said:  

“Having worked extensively with Be First on the regeneration of the Gascoigne neighbourhood, we’re extremely familiar with Barking and Dagenham and its local community. We are impressed by and want to continue to support the borough’s progress in delivering affordable housing for local people, so are delighted to be able to contribute to these efforts over the coming years.”  

Jas Bhalla, Principal at Jas Bhalla Architects, said: 

“We’re thrilled to be selected to be part of Be First’s ambitious framework, working with a fantastic consortium of established and emerging designers. Be First have delivered a diverse range of ground-breaking projects over the last few years, from new forms of affordable housing to innovative urban strategies, all of which are driving regeneration across Barking and Dagenham. We are excited about working with Mae Architects and the rest of our team to deliver much needed housing solutions that respond to both climate breakdown and the affordability crisis.” 

Phineas Harper, Director at Open City, said: 

“Open City’s Accelerate programme creates life-changing opportunities for hundreds of young Londoners from under-represented backgrounds. We are enormously proud to be working with Barking and Dagenham and Be First who are true leaders in putting social value at the heart of their procurement processes to support even more young people as part of this groundbreaking new design framework.” 

Since its founding in 2017, Be First has helped turn the local planning authority into the joint highest performing in the country and the company developed the most housing completions by a Council-owned developer in 2022. Since being established, Be First has delivered over 1,200 affordable homes to date with another 1,500 currently being constructed.