International travel for work, a chore or a joy? / by Craig Heap


Having just maxed out my third, 2 year Chinese visa, it came as a huge surprise to me that I have now been travelling to the Far East for 6 years.

Amazingly, I still get the same buzz and excitement, not to mention a tinge if trepidation with each visit. Best made plans always appear to be overtaken by events and opportunities.

Almost four years since Holmes Miller China was formally established we have an exciting portfolio of design projects, both under development and construction. On my recent trip it was great to visit one of our first completed projects, Merchiston International School in Shenzhen.

Forged over the past decade, we have an excellent relationship with Merchiston in Scotland, so it was great to continue this support in the development of the concept design for their first International School. Open for a year now, it was great to witness first-hand the realisation of the initial concept sketches. Critically the ethos, qualities and educational values present in Scotland have been replicated in China with a friendly and smiling child around every corner. It was also nice to see the pupils artwork on full display, not as pictures mounted on walls, but utilising full walls as the backing canvas to create unique and expressive installations.

Very early days but the rising role alongside excellent academic results (100% ‘A’ Bands at A-Level Mathematics in 2019) and a client team (mixture of Chinese and Scots) with lofty ambitions for the future, will I am sure see continued success for Merchiston International School moving forward.

Education, Education, Education to quote a famous, or infamous, yesteryear politician. Apparently China has been listening, as whilst not really considered a target sector when we embarked on our Chinese odyssey, over the past 12 months this has become a fruitful stream of work. Covering the full spectrum of Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High Schools we are currently working on approximately 200,000m2 of new school, for landmark International Schools (established in the east), local government Schools and critically facilitating introductions for UK schools with ambitions to enter this lucrative market.

This common market between China and the UK has helped to foster a healthy relationships between our staff across the continents. Going forward this will hopefully lead to a continuous flow of secondments between the offices to build strong bonds in a culture of friendship and camaraderie.

For any ambitious architect or student who would thrive on the opportunities of internationalism that Holmes Miller can offer please contact us and we will stay in touch as and when opportunities arise.

Callum Houston

Managing Director