Chris Townsend

Design Manager

A chartered architectural technologist by ‘trade’, Chris joined Willmott Dixon in 2016 after spending 12 years working as a senior technician within a large architectural practice in Cardiff. Much of his involvement working in architecture related to leading multi-disciplinary teams and working closely with contractors on education framework projects throughout the UK. It was this exposure to ‘the other side’ that piqued Chris’ interest in a transition to working as a design manager for a main contractor and since making the move he’s never looked back.

"I found myself in a bit of a rut during my last years in architecture and started to find it becoming unfulfilling and monotonous. Being part of the Willmott Dixon team has totally revitalised my outlook and passion for construction. Every day is different, the work is diverse, it’s both challenging and rewarding and the people are great. It ticks all of the boxes for me and I wish that I’d made the jump sooner!"

Chris was the chair of CIAT’s aspirATion Cymru group and also a member of G4C Wales, allowing him to demonstrate his passion for imparting how diverse and rewarding career in construction can be, particularly to those that may have never considered it previously. He maintains a close relationship with Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he previously studied, by providing presentations to students. He also organises student visits to Willmott Dixon sites within the region to provide added value to their learning; something that he strongly believes should form a vital part of any construction-related curriculum.

"Whilst studying within University and during my formative years in Architecture my experience with live sites was relatively limited. It’s only when you get to experience physical construction and all that it involves do you then get to really to appreciate what it’s all about and how exciting it can be."

A bit of a future gazer, Chris is a keen advocate for challenging the industry and looking at new methods and technologies that can improve it. His first project for Willmott Dixon, the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, was constructed predominantly out of precast brickwork panels and is the largest example of its kind in Wales. Chris sees initiatives such as this as being symptomatic of where the industry must continue to head.

"The industry has historically been quite stagnant, it needs to be more forward thinking to remain current and to give people a reason to consider a career within it. Construction needs to be open to some fundamental shifts and step changes and I see Willmott Dixon as being one of the front runners in breaking down the barriers and making this happen!"

Through Willmott Dixon’s Eureka! process, Chris as part of the FIIT Technology team was responsible for bringing the EksoVest exoskeleton into the business which was a first within the UK construction industry, gaining national and international press attention. He firmly believes that collectively we need to push for improvements both through innovation and more efficient processes if construction is to remain resilient and well placed for the imminent ‘fourth industrial revolution’.