Recession will stimulate good building designs

Published:  08 June, 2009

The recession will be good for building design and is likely to spawn some of the greatest and best-value architectural creations of modern times. That was the message of Michael Thirkettle, chief executive of design and construction consultancy speaking after the recent address by Prince Charles at the Royal Institute of British Architects recently.


It was at RIBA 20 years ago that Prince Charles lambasted British building architecture and design in his famous ‘monstrous carbuncles’ speech.

Michael Thirkettle said. ‘One thing that a recession is doing that no end of royal table thumping could do is to focus the creativity, engineering nous and budgeting of the people planning and designing the next generation of buildings in Britain.

‘Money is tight, so the architects are thinking harder than ever about the design. They’re staying friends with the engineers, and neither is going off on one making self-indulgent statements about design features that some may see as brave, but others may see as stupid.’

He warned that designing to a budget and without passion could lead again to the concrete jungles of the 1960s. He also warned of the dangers of going completely out of control: showpiece building projects going way over budget, way over the top — and being massively criticised.

‘The smart ones know that they have to create perpetually startling designs, laced with practicality.

‘The fact is that while in the recent past many designers have considered going over budget to be a divine right of architects, the truth is that if they get it wrong in the current and near-future climate, then the job may well simply stop when the money runs out should a less well disciplined project manager be responsible for the budget.’

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