From BSc (hons) Architectural Technology students to sustainable design start up
Vanessa and Pantelis met whilst studying Architecture, after a challenging first year their sustainable design agency is going from strength to strength
For Pantelis Soteriou and Vanessa Cazaubon, sustainability isn’t an added extra when it comes to architecture and design – it’s an integral part of their business, E+C Associates.
“It’s something that played a huge role in our studies, for us, the idea of sustainable design covers many things, including minimising the damage done to the environment. It comes as a moral responsibility and we kept that in mind when starting our business. Its key to what we do.”
Surviving the first year in business
In the first year, the business pair found that implementing their ideas wasn’t simple and straightforward. Initially they struggled to secure clients so helped each other to stay positive and motivated.
“Building a business is not easy – no-one’s ever said it was,” says Pantelis. “We’ve hit lots of bumps in the road on the way, and it’s easy to feel intimidated by those who have already made it. You think ‘what chance have we got?’ but that’s where we kept each other strong. In that first year, we kept getting close but never landed a client, and we inevitably began to feel negative about what we were doing. But we never gave up. We would pick each other up and stay on the roller coaster, and we’ve realised that sometimes, the biggest obstacle to success is our own internal saboteurs.”
Winning the first project
One recent project that the pair completed was for a business moving premises to a large 98m2 office. “In a big space, it’s a challenge to make the most of light, but we did so by using glass walls that made the most of that natural resource,” says Pantelis. “We put in two meeting rooms, a kitchen and space for the staff to work, all the time keeping it warm and light.”
The clients were delighted with the results, which also mean that they don’t need to turn the lights on as early as they might need to in a darker office – the daylight streams through the space keeping it light and airy – which is healthier for the staff working there too.
The airflow in the office is also sustainable, because the design of the office allows air to circulate naturally without the need for expensive air circulation equipment – another way that E+C Associates have helped their clients keep their costs down and stick to their principles of sustainability.
Building a pipeline
More sustainable building projects are already in the pipeline, and the pair hope to play their part in tackling the environmental issues facing the planet – an subject both are passionate about. “We need to take care of Earth – it’s where we live and the reason we are alive,” says Pantelis. “We may only be a small cog in a massive machine, but every cog matters. After all, if we don’t take care of our own home, who will?”
Pantelis and Vanessa received business support from LSBU’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Scheme. Read more about all the business support on offer at LSBU.