Let’s hope the Farrell Review puts design more firmly in the minds of design-makers
Sir Terry Farrell’s review of architecture and the built environment has been a hot topic of debate among the architecture profession over recent months and I for one have great hopes that the review will chart a new way forward for the government to engage fully with architecture.
Never before has design and sustainability been so far down a government agenda. The abolition of Cabe and the closing down of so many great architecture centres has left a a lack of expertise in the system. Meanwhile, policy on schools and housing seems to be led purely by short-term cost considerations above promoting long-term value.
So the Farrell Review is a timely exercise. After nearly three years of the current government and with a general election approaching, it is valuable to put design more firmly in the minds of decision-makers and to begin to down silos within government.
We need this process to result in the government setting out a strategic vision through a national built environment design policy
I hope however, that this approach does not end once Sir Terry has reported. We need this process to result in the government setting out a strategic vision through a national built environment design policy, which entrenches long-term thinking on the built environment. This must not be something that directs and informs policy-making across the board and is not overtaken by short-term political and economic considerations.
Most European cities have an architectural policy and I was involved in writing the current Irish policy which is now in its third year and is already having an impact. In Denmark too, we can see the value of such an approach in helping raise aspirations for places.
We need a culture change in our approach to architecture and the built environment which helps raise public aspiration, changes decision-making within government and spurs a new way of working within the industry. The Farrell Review could be the catalyst which helps bring this about.
Angela Brady is director of Brady Mallalieu Architects and formerly RIBA president