Your piece last week on the £60,000 house (5 August, page 13) misrepresents both the reality of the competition and CABE’s position. It is based on an unverified quote and a good deal of inaccurate speculation – for example there were 30 submissions, not 33, and the shortlist comprised nine winners not seven, one of which you wrongly identified. Before your readers will see this letter, they will have been given the facts about the competition at the launch on 9 August. But I write to put the record straight on CABE’s involvement and views to date.
CABE welcomed the invitation from the ODPM to sit on the judging panel during the second stage of Design for Manufacture, a competition that has real potential to help force the pace of improvements in the housebuilding industry. Each of the 30 proposals was assessed against criteria relating to design quality, cost efficiency and environmental standards.
The shortlisting does not mark the end of the design process; it forms a useful mid-point at which to note where the challenges of the competition have been met and where there is still room for improvement. Some teams tackled the competition brief with thoughtful and impressive bids. But in CABE’s opinion, a number have yet to fully grasp the opportunities and challenges set by the competition. In particular, some entrants will need to pay close attention to their approach to architecture and Urban Design. Stage three will also provide the opportunity to address one of the key aims of the competition to “re-engineer the design, procurement and build process” – that is, to really “design for manufacture” by rethinking existing approaches.
CABE therefore looks forward to seeing the teams refining their proposals and consistently raising their game.
Joanna Averley, deputy director, CABE