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Alexander Wright, professor of architecture at Bath University, said that regulation was key to promote innovation, but that the industry “needed to be altogether more ambitious in regulation of the built environment.” He noted a further barrier, “that people making key decisions are being driven by agenda different from our own.” He added that “too often minimum standards are taken as maximum standards.”

Katy Barker, architect and graduate of Bath and now director of design and build firm Directline Structures spoke from the floor responding another audience member’s comment – that architects should be “good generals,” synthesising art, business and science, as well as that the industry now needed “guts” to “avoid the dangers of isolationism.” Barker as well as other panellists rejected any notion that architects should remain in an exclusively ‘artistic’ sphere. She said that collaborating with other disciplines was enabling her “to see the construction process from start to finish, rather than just producing master plans.”

James Parker Editor


ON THE COVER... 45 Millharbour by aLL Design is a residential project in London’s Docklands that adds colour, character and sustainability for residents, and also helped to solve a spatial efficiency puzzle for Hovedean Properties.

45 MILLHARBOUR, ISLE OF DOGS aLL Design brings higher efficiency as well as a bolder sense of colour to residential towers in south east London

TAI KWUN CENTRE, HONG KONG Historic prison complex becomes a heritage and arts hub

For the full report on this project, go to page 38 Cover Image © Lucy Atlee

The conference and more fringe sessions saw some very popular as well as revealing talks, challenging the status quo. One packed session heard cradle-to-cradle pioneer Michael Braungart on why architects shouldn’t be “prostitutes” when it comes to obeying clients on sustainability, and should stick to their guns. The main conference stream retained the ‘ecobuild’ name. One session chaired by eminent architect Sunand Prasad, looked at how education and architecture education needed to collaborate and evolve to deliver what students were now expecting from courses, to equip them for new industry challenges, and also addressed barriers that institutions were facing.


So another Ecobuild passes by, except this time it’s been rebadged as ‘Futurebuild.’ I don’t know if you attended, but the show which has been at London’s ExCel for a few years, seemed little different from its former ‘Ecobuild’ incarnation. However this seemed to be the intention, the organisers weren’t calling it a new event, more an “evolution” from the previous brand identity.

The new name is of course more appropriate for a very broad-based show, which is far from its more purist ‘eco’ origins. It was that specialist positioning which brought many architects to its early outings at Earl’s Court – specifiers could meet a variety of people supplying explicitly sustainable products in one place, in one afternoon. Its much wider array of attractions, plus the location out in Docklands, has made it harder to attract time- pressed architects in recent years.

The verdict on the success of Futurebuild this year might depend on who you speak to. At an uncertain time in terms of the political backdrop, one exhibiting firm we spoke to reported having an “exceptional” day – on the opening day – we took this to mean exceptionally good! Other exhibitors weren’t quite so happy. Despite this, organisers say that re-booking of stands was up by a whopping 52 per cent year on year by the middle day, which is certainly impressive given the challenging economic post-Brexit outlook. Clearly, many are continuing to see the importance of investing in their presence at such shows, and presumably seeing solid ROI. Maybe it’s the case they see that remaining close to customers is particularly important at the moment?



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