People profile: Düsseldorf Director Ruprecht Melder

Tell us about your background

I was born in Munich and grew up in southern Germany, very close to the Alps. My mother was a designer, my father in the building business and my grandfather manufactured tubular steel furniture. This early exposure to both the building industry and design was probably the reason why I gravitated towards being an architect!

What finally triggered my decision to study architecture was a trip to Japan after high school. A friend of mine did his thesis in architecture on traditional tea houses in Japan. He invited us to come to Japan to stay in a Japanese temple and to see traditional and modern Japanese architecture. Overwhelmed by this experience, it was clear to me that I should become an architect. I went on to study at the Technical University of Munich (TH München), where I did my diploma in 1995.

 Why did you join Chapman Taylor?

A good friend and colleague of mine moved to London to work with Chapman Taylor, and he rang me to let me know that they were looking for more German architects in order to set up a German team in London because they wanted to expand into the German market.

My friend told me that (now Director) Jens Siegfried and (former Main Board Director) Geoffrey Moir would be visiting Munich, and recommended that I should drop in on them at their hotel for a job interview. By the time we had reached our third pretzel and second cup of coffee, I had a job! I started in London the following Monday.

Within a couple of days of starting, I started to work on German projects from London, and, two and a half years later, I moved to Chapman Taylor’s newly established Düsseldorf studio.

 What key changes have you seen since you became an architect?

There have been many changes in the past 23 years, though, ultimately, the end goal remains precisely the same – to produce the best design possible. The manner of achieving that has changed, due to the increased technical complexity and legal requirements involved, about which I have written an Insight paper.

One of the biggest changes has, of course, been digitalisation, which has led to an entirely different design approach and has transformed how designers interact with clients, stakeholders and others. When I was at university, master’s theses and diplomas were designed by hand, and Computer Aided Design had only just begun to be taught. The internet was still in its infancy at that time, so you can see how profound the changes have been.

 You are now Director – tell us about your role.

As Director, my daily work can be very diverse. With Jens Siegfried, I am in charge of the day-to-day running of the Düsseldorf studio, which means bringing in new projects, negotiating reasonable contracts and keeping studio revenue in the black. In addition, I am responsible for planning a number of projects at any given time.

Being Director is very challenging, but can also be great fun, because have very good people in our team. Human beings are the most important resource in any organisation, and that is certainly true for us. It is the task of the Director to ensure that we have an excellent team and that the team is well motivated. In that way, my position has some similarity with that of a football manager!

 What are the main challenges you see for design practices in the coming years?

There are always big challenges ahead at any given time, and now is no different. It is certainly a very tense period in the German labour market, and so it is important that we ensure that our employees know how valued they are as part of Chapman Taylor and also that they understand our philosophy as an organisation.

Chapman Taylor is in an excellent market position, but we must never be complacent. It is important that we stay ahead of other design practices, not just in terms of our architectural expertise, but also with regard to our knowledge of the very latest technology, such as BIM and Virtual Reality.

As always, it is important that we keep a close eye on the way in which the property market is growing at different rates in different areas and then react flexibly and intelligently to changing market needs.

 What is your most memorable moment of your time at Chapman Taylor?

I think it is one from very early on. Before I started at Chapman Taylor, I intended to stay with the firm for three months and then return to Munich. My first project when I started was a mixed-use scheme at Leipziger Platz in Berlin, where we worked collaboratively with Aldo Rossi to create a permanent European home for Cirque de Soleil.

The very first project meeting I went to was in Berlin with Aldo Rossi, the investor, politicians from Berlin and Geoffrey Moir. By the end of the meeting, the project was not going anywhere. Geoffrey Moir, whom I remember as a very polite and modest person, stood up and made a brilliant presentation, convincing everybody about the architectural capability of our office.

By the time I returned to London, I had changed my mind, because I knew I was working for the right company – and I am still here over 20 years later.

Ruprecht Melder (Dipl. Ing. Architekt (Univ.))

董事, 杜塞尔多夫

Ruprecht joined Chapman Taylor in 1995 and is responsible for the design and delivery of retail, office and hospitality projects in our Düsseldorf studio. He became joint Managing Director in 2013 to support the growth of the business and continues to oversee project work in Germany and Austria.

He has successfully established the role of 'General planner' within the Düsseldorf studio and has an established track record leading general planner teams on large-scale projects. 

Areas of expertise:

General Planner / Retail / Mixed-use / Offices 

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