DECADE: the recession – a catalyst for change? Reflections on emerging practice

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In 2015 A&DS celebrated 10 years and following a series of 10 events on 10 key topics a publication of reflections was published at the end on 2015. Throughout 2016 – the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – we will -re-publish extracts from the publication on each topic. Our second topic is emerging practice and how the sector is adapting and creating new ways of working in response to the new economic reality. 

Few architectural practices were untouched by the economic changes of the last ten years. The implosion of private investment saw the architectural opportunities of the late 90s and early ‘noughties’ disappear for established practices – thus, emerging practices and graduates faced a challenging prospect for work. Public procurement processes compounded the problem by awarding commissions based specifically on previous experience, and by preferring to use large consortia appointments.

Faced with this adverse climate, and with limited support, a creative community of architects and designers has emerged in Scotland. They are self-starting, motivated and innovative. This generation is tackling some of the important issues we face: involving people in shaping their surroundings; making architecture and design more useful to society as a whole; designing new types of spaces for our changing needs; and, critically, building to minimise waste.

Freed from the constraints of the prevailing, conventional ‘this is how we do it’ structures, and with emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration, imaginative teams are exploring new ways of working and challenging established assumptions. Their effort and innovation is influencing conventional practice and approaches.

Emerging practice demonstrates hugely positive future directions and the conversations from this Decade event were inspiring. These architects and designers are developing briefing, service design and community capacity building and skills development. They are working to promote sustainable design and off-site manufacture. They are enjoying their work and spreading that ‘feel good’ factor to wider communities and business.

As Michael Marra outlines in his summary, Scotland still faces future economic and social challenges. I believe our design and graduate community can meet those challenges. I hope that in the decade to come, the Scottish Government and Scotland as a whole are able, by policy and practice, to increase their contributions to our public and private investment in the built environment and communities.

Karen Anderson, Chair, A&DS

Download the document here.

(Image by Sam Booth)

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