Dodds and Shute recently teamed up with Andreu World and invited a number of our most important clients to the fantastic city of Valencia. We spend the first day of our trip exploring the city via bike and Architectural guide and learnt a great deal about how this cities incredible history can be studied through its diverse buildings.

The city was founded as a Roman colony due to its strategic location near the sea, it’s ancient center still bears the hallmarks of Roman town planning with compact, rectilinear grid of streets, a river flowing nearby and main roads leading north, south, east and west. The surrounding area then reflects the cities 500 years of Moorish occupation as the city city prospered due to a booming trade it rapidly grew in size and its legacy can be seen in the grand old city walls and Cathedral as well as the narrow winding streets typical of Islamic design.

In more recent times the Turia river was diverted in the 1960s to prevent it from flooding the city and some incredibly ambitious town planning turned the dried out river bed into a beautiful collection of natural parks and cycle routes that link Valencia’s old town with its loud, bold, futuristic present day identity. Considered one of the 12 Treasures of Spain is a stunning complex of buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava consisting of a Museum of Science, Opera House, performing arts center, Imax cinema, Planatarium and more. It truly is an audacious project and whilst the ‘Starchitecture’ is really something to behold in person the complex divides the opinion of many locals, including our guide. It has put Valencia on the tourist map but at a huge cost because the project symbolises profligate spending and financial mismanagement. The large cost overruns and debt burdens the region and means 3 skyscrapers that form part of the development have been put on hold and may never be completed.

Moving on from the wonderful city we had the pleasure of exploring the Andreu World factories and we were left incredibly impressed by the professionalism and ambition we observed. Andreu World have always been a company that was synonymous with reliability, one of the few that can be trusted to deliver a project exactly on time and once we had seen the factories we understood why. Everything was run so efficiently and with such an attentive and skilled workforce that each element of production was under absolute control.

Their manufacturing facilities and practices are state of the art and the operation overseen with incredible organisation. However what impressed us most was the commitment of the company to ensuring their workforce did not rest on their laurels but continue to improve and learn new skills. In every area of production was a whiteboard detailing the skillsets of each worker for every task. Which tasks they were learning, which they were accomplished in and which could mentor others for. This attention to detail and management was fascinating to see and not something we had observed before.

After witnessing the production of some furniture for our very own project in London we left the factories incredibly satisfied and confident in the integrity of Andreu World and their commitment to philosophy, attention to detail, excellence and good design.