Design will be paramount on new law courts, says Commission for Architecture and Built Environment.
The NEW architectural watchdog is to make its first impact on government projects by driving up design standards on private finance initiative court schemes in Cambridge and Ipswich.

The design criteria that firms planning to bid for the courts must comply with will be outlined in a speech next week at Cambridge County Court. This will be given by architect Ian Ritchie, a member of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

The presentation, which will be attended by firms that have submitted prequalification details in response to the PFI tenders, will be the second hosted by the Lord Chancellor’s department after it agreed last month to change its PFI procurement process to give greater weight to design.

Paul Monaghan, chief architect at the Lord Chancellor’s department, said Ritchie would also address bidders for a £10m court in Bristol in November.

Monaghan added: “We now ask bidders to exclude designers from their consortia at prequalification stage and to come to a presentation first. We then explain to them what they need to look for in their architects.”

The Lord Chancellor’s department organised the PFI design presentations after a meeting with CABE chairman Stuart Lipton in July.

The Lord Chancellor’s department has also issued a design quality statement that will be part of the brief for all PFI projects.

The statement commits the department to procuring buildings that are an “appropriate response to the local urban or rural area”, are “user friendly and legible”, “spatially and energy efficient”, “flexible” and that provide “whole-life cost efficiencies”.

  • CABE chairman Stuart Lipton outlined the six-committee structure of the new design body at a press conference last Wednesday.

    The first three committees, which are due to be running by the middle of next month, will focus on design review, government-related projects and project enabling. The design review committee will be chaired by The Architects’ Journal editor Paul Finch, and the government-related projects committee by Lipton.

A chair has yet to be appointed for the project enabling committee, which will advise clients on picking designers.

The other three committees, which Lipton said would require additional time and money, will focus on support for regional architecture centres, promoting education in architecture and promoting new construction technology.

The chairs of these committees are likely to be drawn from a second batch of commissioners to be named later this month by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Lipton will meet the committee heads once a month to discuss progress.