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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 12:19 GMT
Architect's design on staff co-op
By Alex Robertson
BBC Scotland news website
Glasgow and West reporter

A Glasgow architect who has spent a decade building an award-winning firm is to give his 15 employees an equal share in the business.

Chris Stewart
Mr Stewart has laid the foundations for Collective Architecture

Chris Stewart will operate Collective Architecture as a co-operative and staff have prepared a manifesto.

Mr Stewart, 46, said the move reflects his inclusive approach to architecture which involves communities and allows employees to express themselves.

And he claimed the co-operative is the first in Scotland and among only a small number elsewhere in the UK.

Chris Stewart Architects has worked on a range of community regeneration projects across the West of Scotland with a focus on sustainability and local involvement.

These include lighting the Cranhill water tower, designing The Wedge in Pollok, developing the Titan Crane in Clydebank and revitalising the Necropolis in Glasgow.

The company started in the front room of Mr Stewart's west end flat on the same day as Tony Blair came to power as prime minister.

A decade on, he is preparing to give his employees an equal share in the business under the new business - Collective Architecture.

'Talented staff'

"We are now established," he said, at his offices on the top floor of a building in Glasgow Cross.

"Community participation is crucial to us, being open and giving people opportunities.

"There is not a house style, we give everyone an opportunity to express themselves - everyone has got an idea inside them and we let them flourish.

Cranhill water tower (Picture from Christ Stewart Architects)

"Common themes are sustainability and community participation."

Mr Stewart said this ethos triggered Collective Architecture.

"If we are what we preach, then we should give everyone equal share," he said.

"Everyone is equal, they share their ideas but they have property rights.

"This is also about keeping this group together. We have a young staff.

"It is a mix of following our ethos and a business approach to keep talented people who would move on."

He added: "It is not a giveaway at all, the staff will take responsibility, it makes business sense and eases the burden."

Current Collective Architecture projects include a visitors centre for the Botanic Gardens, community building for allotments in Clydebank, festive lighting for Glasgow City Council, Fopp record stores around the UK and lighting high rise blocks in Castlemilk.

From the new financial year, every one of his staff will have an equal share - financially and intellectually - in each and every project.

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