An architect reflects on the past year
As another year - another decade - draws to a close, it’s interesting to ponder the exciting and unknown future which awaits us. But to best understand our role in the world, I think it’s important to reflect on our journey so far.
As architects, I believe we have a lot to be proud of. Some say modern politics is leaving us more divided than ever, but as an industry we have united to support some truly important causes.
The winner of 2019’s RIBA Stirling Prize, awarded to the top architecture project of the year, was won by a council run housing estate in Norwich. It’s unusual for such a ‘modest’ project to win the headline prize, but this one really resonated. It won because it was designed to foster community and to help its residents live greener lives.
In fact, this was a wider theme for RIBA this year: the organisation launched campaigns to both counter climate change, and to promote renovation over demolish/rebuild.
The world is a beautiful place and good architecture adds to it, but bad architecture can take away. And it’s great to see that RIBA is ensuring that we all do our collective best to build responsibly, leaving a healthy world for future generations.
Of course, there is still a long way to go. This is also true of Britain’s homelessness problem, which has grown every year this decade. (Faris Mousa: Homelessness is a growing problem and it’s our responsibility to help) Our most vulnerable people need our help, and it was great to see my hometown of Manchester making noise earlier this year when Andy Burnham announced new measures to help the homeless - and hopefully this inspires other towns and cities to do the same.
Unfortunately, Manchester missed its targets, but I do appreciate that they’re trying. It just goes to show how big the problem is, and how difficult it is to reverse the trend. In the meantime, please do consider donating to charities such as Crisis or Manchester’s own Mustard Tree who are doing what they can to help provide a roof and a warm meal for those in need this Christmas.
All the best for the New Year,