Façade expert opens first office in Sunderland
A building façade specialist has opened his first office in Sunderland after launching his own company.
Danny Birrell has more than 20 years’ experience in designing building facades and external envelopes. He decided to take the leap of faith in January and become his own boss – opening an office at the North East BIC.
Meta Facades offers design and consultancy services to developers, architects and facade contractors covering the planning, design, building physics, material procurement, construction and maintenance of building facades and enclosures.
It works with the architectural design team, bringing expert knowledge in building science and facade materials and systems.
Meta has experience with complex facade systems for low-rise, high-rise and super-tall buildings, allowing them to provide the best possible advice to clients.
Having had a varied career in the facades sector, Danny wanted to have a greater say in the projects and type of work he got involved with.
He said: “I started my career in the factory environment making windows, doors and curtain wall. I then moved to site installation, eventually moving into design – working my way up to become a design director of a worldwide organisation.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business and the time was just right. I wanted to explore other avenues of work and have the opportunity to decide what work I want to do and who with.
“It’s still early days, my focus at the minute is mainly on design and consultancy, but who knows what will happen in the coming years.”
Danny’s career has taken him to various places around the world, he has just finished work on one of the biggest projects in the UK outside of London, at Edinburgh Haymarket, creating the facade system design, technical drawings and design management for that building.
He is now working on the Chapter Living project at London Bridge – on behalf of contractor Mace – and is responsible for the design and engineering of the first four levels of the building, including the cladding and glazing.
Chapter London Bridge is a distinctive 39-storey building, providing accommodation for up to 905 students. The design is inspired by the local neighbourhood and will create a “best-in-class building” that will contribute to the ongoing regeneration of this popular area of the capital.
“I’ve been quite lucky in my career because some of the jobs I’ve worked on have been amazing, a lot of what I’m doing leaves a legacy behind, I can go and see the work I’ve done and that can be really special,” said Danny.
“The jobs can be very complex and difficult but it’s great going to see the buildings when they’re complete – often it has taken years to get to that point.”
After setting up his business at the start of the year, Danny was keen to find a base close to his Sunderland home and when an office came up at the BIC, it was the “obvious choice”.
He said: “The BIC has been brilliant. The staff are really accommodating. Within two weeks of me leaving my job, I had the office and everything was sorted.
“They made it so easy for me and so affordable as well. It’s a nice little community down here.”
The BIC offers a unique package of workspace, business support, events and a support network for entrepreneurs.
Donna Surtees, Centre Manager at the North East BIC, said: “Meta Facades do spectacular, highly skilled work with some of the UK’s biggest contractors and we’re delighted Danny chose to base his business here.”