Ian Banks is both a chartered architect and a public art consultant. He is the director of Atoll Ltd, a micro architecture + art ‘collaborative’ of one, that looks to partner with an growing network of artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, curators and creative organisations.
His largely residential architectural commissions are carried out as a stand-alone business, with a pride in delivering great design, customer service and professionalism in equal measure. These commissions rely deliberately on gaining repeat trade via word-of-mouth recommendations – rather than be the result of advertising and marketing. Atoll also pursues other non-profit and voluntary interests in other creative and artistic fields. In doing so, the company ploughs back its profits gained from more commercial work to subsidise the more cultural and community placemaking interests that it is equally passionate about. As such, at any one time, Atoll’s work is split to varying degrees between four main working areas of:
- Architecture – Private Housing & Leisure
- Public Art – Collaborations, Curatorial & Consultancy in Arts Led Regeneration
- Partnering – Professional, Affiliations, Joint Ventures & Volunteering
- Writing – Commissioned Articles, Journalism & other Editorial
Atoll’s hybrid 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 placemaking.
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, designers and other creatives to challenge the brief and deliver innovative approaches that 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, and after qualification also worked for 2 years in the tourist island design sector there. This was followed by 8-years working in the UK in both 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. This practice has now been running for over 12 years.