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Staff profile: Bianca!

Bianca joined Harbour in January of this year, and is the first graduate to join our Building Services team. 

She graduated in 2018 from the University of Plymouth with a RIBA Part 1 Certificate in Architecture, having moved to the UK from Portugal in 2011.

Bianca and her team worked tirelessly on Harbour’s new disabled access unit for women with complex needs escaping domestic abuse: the first facility of its kind in the South West. This is the first project at Harbour that Bianca had worked on from beginning to end, and she is extremely proud of the outcome.

Bianca completed extensive drawings for the disabled unit, ensuring that it was suitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, whilst meeting stringent building guidelines. Among its many adaptations, the kitchen features a lowered hob, fridge-freezer and sink, along with space-saving appliances and a wheelchair turning circle.

The bathroom contains a wet room, shower seat, handrails, and a lowered sink and toilet. All these adaptations will enable a wheelchair user to use the appliances with ease, whilst the design is just as accessible for able-bodied use as well.

Bianca was inspired by a project she completed during her final year of university, where she was set the task of designing a building that would fit the needs of the local area she was assigned. She decided to draw plans for a specialist apartment building for women escaping domestic abuse, having identified that such a facility was needed. “Finishing that project at uni made me want to build it in real life one day, so it would actually make a real difference to people’s lives and not be just an idea on paper,” Bianca said.

The progress of the disabled unit was heavily impacted by the pandemic, which slowed plans and pushed back the completion date. At one point, Bianca’s team spent two weeks trying to find a bag of cement as supply chains were extremely disrupted. The team were mindful that the project needed to be completed quickly, as there are very few disabled access facilities for those with complex needs in the country.

Despite everything, the team managed to complete the project in early September, and a client has since moved in.

Thanks to Bianca and team, we can now house and support even more individuals who need us.

“I feel proud to have been on the team that did this, and I’m so glad that we were able to complete it despite everything. We recognised that there was a huge need for this specialist facility at Harbour and we are so glad that we can now provide it.”

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