This week, how watching telly can inspire the next generation of construction workers; northern youth marches south; an octogenarian architect is unstoppable; and the chancellor contemplates a career change
Congratulations all round
Not one but two government ministers joined me at the parliamentary reception celebrating the first anniversary of the Farrell Review: Ed Vaizey from culture and Brandon Lewis from communities. Much mutual back-slapping ensued in the speeches, with Vaizey, who commissioned the review, praising Lewis for “proving an incredibly effective partner” and Lewis thanking Vaizey for “making my life easier” by getting design quality on the government’s agenda. All a little mystifying until one of my hacks received a tip-off that Vaizey is about to pass the entire architecture brief to Lewis’ department. Lewis is not the only one to benefit from this move, it seems. Terry Farrell revealed he’s been enjoying having meetings at the DCLG. “It’s always a pleasure to go there,” he said, “because they’ve moved into that fabulously designed building on Marsham Street.” Could that possibly be the colourful glass number designed by, er, Farrells?
The indefatigable Richard Rogers, founder of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and all-round globe-trotting architectural heavyweight, is well-known for his seemingly limitless enthusiasm for the profession, even at 81 years of age. As such, one of my journalists was looking forward to hearing from him at an event celebrating the life and works of Czech architect Jan Kaplicky on Tuesday night in central London, featuring Kaplicky in conversation with architects including Rogers. But she subsequently learned he was on the bill for another event that night in the capital. Could Rogers have got a better offer? A PR for the event reassured my hack - apparently Rogers had three events in a row on Tuesday evening, but someone had agreed to transport him between them on a motorbike. Impressive stuff.
KPMG’s Richard Threlfall conjured up a colourful picture of the future of the UK if the economic pull of London and the South-east continues unabated. At a pre-election debate hosted by the accountancy firm this week, Threlfall said the North was starting to look like “a grand retirement village” as young people headed south for better job prospects. Threlfall was commenting on statistics on population movement in the UK. Taking a look at the average age of the assembled audience at the firm’s offices in Canary Wharf, however, it looked like the conference may have been attempting to redress the balance.
Politicians pondering how to inspire a new generation of engineers should look no further than children’s television, says a new study. According to a survey by business insurance website constructaquote.com, up to a third of the 1,947 workers in the construction trade were inspired by characters such as Super Mario, for his plumbing skills, Fred Flintstone, apparently a childhood muse for engineers, and Bob the Builder - for obvious reasons. Worryingly, 4% of those polled chose Wreck-It Ralph, who we can only assume has inspired those looking to get into demolition. Or maybe public policy?
Give that man a job
George Osborne is so fond of donning a hard hat and hi-vis jacket you’d think he was gunning to take up a construction site manager’s job this summer should May’s general election not go the Conservatives’ way. Last Thursday the chancellor dropped in on a newly-built Travis Perkins distribution centre to talk up the builders’ merchant’s recruitment plans, and to try his hand at laying bricks and reading site plans. All good training for a career change. However, after David Cameron’s announcement this week that he doesn’t intend to stick around as leader all that long, Osborne may now have other things on his mind. Shame.
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