Ian Banks is a chartered architect and a public art consultant. He is the director of Atoll Ltd, his micro architecture + art ‘collaborative’ of just one, that partners with a growing network of artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers, designers, curators and creative organisations.
His largely domestic architectural work is carried out as a stand alone business with a pride on good customer service and great professionalism. These commissions deliberately depend on repeat trade and via word-of-mouth recommendations, rather than a result of advertising. This then leaves time for Atoll to pursue other creative interests, and so profits from more commercial work are reinvested internally to essentially subsidise the more cultural, community and non-profit interests that the studio is equally passionate about. As such, at any one time, the practice’s work is split to varying degrees between the 4 main working areas of:
- Architecture – Private Housing & Leisure
- Public Art – Collaborations, Curatorial & Consultancy in Arts Led Regeneration
- Partnering – Professional, Affiliations, Joint Ventures & Volunteering
- Writing – Articles, Journalism & other Editorial
Atoll’s expertise comprises both architectural design, project management, public realm consultancy, curatorial delivery and joint lead artist roles – all set up on a project-by-project basis to meet the needs of particular projects and clients. The role that Atoll provides can be that of a traditional lead architect and public realm consultant, as well as a more collaborative team player developing wider opportunities for place-making.
This latter role often involves acting as a ‘cultural broker’ for the client, design team, community, cultural advocacy bodies (i.e. Economic Partnerships, Local Authorities, Arts Councils or private clients), and working with artists and other creatives to challenge the brief and deliver innovative approaches to help question, understand and enhance our public sense of space and place.
Ian qualified as a Chartered Architect in 1990 after a 2-year VSO posting as Head Architect for the Maldives Ministry of Education. This was followed by 10-years working in the UK in the community architecture and commercial sectors. For 4 years between 2000 and 2004, in a mid-career sabbatical, he began to expand on his past interests in the arts whilst on a temporary secondment as the Public Art & Architecture Officer for Arts Council England, North West. Following this, Ian launched Atoll, his self-styled ‘art and architecture collaborative’ in January 2005.