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An advisor to incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the cost of cancelling the construction the new airport will be around 0.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Beyond the resulting losses to contractors and wasted effort on the architects’ part, this is going to be a major blow to the economy.

The real cost of Brexit won’t be known for some time, all we know currently from anecdotal evidence from practices is that investment decisions are being delayed, while things still hang precariously in the balance. In terms of actual data however, ARB has reported there was a 42 per cent fall in architects from the EU registering to work in the UK in September. If that trend continues, it won’t take long before there is a noticeable impact on the profession’s capacity to deliver.

James Parker Editor


ON THE COVER... Cranleigh Prep School’s new ‘Safari Lodge’-inspired timber building for science, art and DT engages as much as possible with the natural environment to provide healthy teaching spaces.


A sustainable addition by Tate Harmer for a sport-mad school opens up to the elements, resolves circulation issues and gives a new welcome to parents

AUDI CENTRE, DUBLIN EMD Architects on delivering Ireland’s biggest, greenest car showroom

For the full report on this project, go to page 30 Cover image © Kilian O’Sullivan



he news that Foster + Partners has had its $13bn airport project in Mexico City cancelled – following a public referendum, and after millions had already been spent on foundations – has possibly taken the shine off the practice’s joy at winning the Stirling Prize for Bloomberg.

The bigger question here is whether the decision on something as complex and important to the local and national economy as an airport should have been left in public hands. While there are some important issues to do with engagement that mean real public consultation needs to be a top priority, whether you leave decision-making to be driven and coordinated by current political whims has to be under question.

There are obvious parallels with Brexit. Presumably even the most pessimistic Remainers have been shocked as to just how thorny and tortuous the negotiations have turned out to be, meaning it’s arguable that no-one really knew what was coming, back in 2016. In the era of populist politics, we probably need to brace ourselves for more ‘black and white’ choices in the form of further referenda. Will future generations look back and wonder how we could allow such complex matters to be left to what are, essentially, opinion polls?

In the case of Mexico, there are a very different set of factors. While the EU may arguably be one of the bastions promoting and enforcing environmentally-friendly policies, the airport which was under construction on a former lake bed has been criticised on environmental grounds, including its impact on migrating birds. However there were planned mitigating landscaping projects to address this – was this communicated and understood in the referendum?

There is another big difference, disregarding whether or not the EU Referendum should have been staged, over 17 million people voted to leave. In Mexico, just 1 million did – not much over 1 per cent of the electorate. As commentators have said, this does not seem to be a mandate for change.



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