Employee Spotlight – Simon Robinson

By Vivienne Conway

An integral member of our design team, Simon is our employee spotlight this week and we wanted to highlight some of the fantastic work he does at HGP. Simon has worked on numerous schemes throughout his time at HGP, including The Queen’s and Royal Beach Hotels in Southsea, Bordon Regeneration, Waterloo Square and Sovereign House Types, and is often responsible for producing images for our projects and clients. His design skills, as well as his experience and knowledge surrounding computer generated imagery, allows him to create photorealistic 3D environments, representing buildings, landscapes, and interior spaces, which help to visualise and explore different design concepts, materials, lighting conditions and much more.

Read on to find out more about the projects Simon has been working on, and his experience of design architecture and the world of CGI.

You lead the team which submitted planning for the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea, which is exciting news! Tell us a bit about the project and what went into the design process.

We were introduced to the scheme by the owners of The Queen’s Hotel in Portsmouth, who also own the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea. During the Covid Pandemic the Hotel had to close to the public and as part of the governments help out incentive, the building was repurposed to house asylum seekers awaiting processing.

Our brief was in two parts, the first, was for the conversion of the existing Hotel into apartments and the second, design a new apartment building in the rear car park.

The conversion consisted of a full internal redesign of the existing 75-bedroom hotel structure to optimise apartment layouts and maximise internal spaces to provide 31 new luxury apartments overlooking the waterfront. Conversions are a difficult design brief , a conversion, taking into account existing structure, but particularly when the removal of a previous roof extension to be replaced by a new floor is involved but it also had the added complexity of needing to accommodate split level lower units to raise habitable rooms above the existing flood level.

The new build element replaces an existing banqueting hall in the car park to the rear of the hotel to provide a further 26 apartments with penthouse style units at the top floor with panoramic views of the Solent. It was designed to complement the newly converted East wing of the hotel and follow a specific phasing of redevelopment for the whole site.

We worked closely with our clients’ interior designers to provide a luxury feel to each apartment with quality materials and finishes and the wider development. This was done by producing materials finishes, colour palettes and mood boards for each apartment.

On the whole it was definitely a challenge, but one which brought a lot of personal enjoyment in providing a design solution the client is happy with.

Creating the images you do is a real skill and one that many would like to develop themselves. Do you have any tips or bits of advice to pass on?

I believe the knowledge and experience of what looks good is a fantastic starting point. I have spent many years learning and developing new techniques in order to provide quality images that complement the style they need to portray.  I have researched how other illustrators have created images and tried to re-produce my own visuals in a similar manner.  There are more and more forums and videos describing new methods and techniques of producing imagery as software and technology evolve. I spend a great deal of my own time practicing and learning from others which helps me improve my own skills.


What is your experience of how the process of creating CGI imagery has changed?

I first started painting and drawing and was one of the first students to complete their final Architectural qualification using 3D computer models and videos via multimedia format. In the past, I have been lucky enough to work closely with software developers and have assisted in designing the technology to represent buildings in a 3D environment. I have seen the journey of taking 2 dimensional drawings to complex virtual models over the course of 30 years.

The ability to create photorealistic CGI’s has become far better and quicker both with the development of new and improved software and increased hardware performance.

Now I believe AI will be the next evolution of design imagery with real world environments being used to demonstrate design.

Is there another skill or element of design or architecture that you would like to pursue more of or that you would want the industry to get better at?

I would like to explore how prefabrication could be used more to provide a better quality “brand” or product for buildings and architecture rather than in many cases, simply to re-produce the standard homes that are currently being built. I am interested in how buildings and homes can be made to be more Eco efficient and would like to see the construction industry take a lead in utilising natural resources rather than relying on fossil fuels.


You produced the CGI images recently shared and are often responsible for many of our images. Do you enjoy this aspect of your work? Do you prefer this to design, or do you see it as an extension of the process?

I believe this is integral part of the design process. I very much enjoy the design aspect and spend time researching and looking for better ways to represent Architecture. I am constantly learning and strive to make each image unique whether it be a dramatic image or a softer more conceptual view. I am keen to continue this interest for the rest of my career.

What is your favourite architectural movement, style or typography?

My favourite style is Georgian Architecture with its characteristic symmetry, balance and proportion.


If you could visit or re-visit just one building, what would it be?

I have been lucky enough to visit my Great Grandfather’s public buildings and large country houses that were built in Belfast and in Northern Ireland and have been interested to read some of his many books about architecture and his travels through Africa. I have also spent many years travelling to many different countries and enjoyed visiting the Taj Mahal in India and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. One building I would like to visit however is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.