The industry's architectural watchdog has grown from a small group of dedicated personnel to a multi-layered organisation with staunch government backing. Here we chart the rise and rise of CABE
The government's decision to double CABE's budget is a remarkable show of faith in an organisation barely three years old. In 2000 the fledgling design champion had funding of only £1.5m a year; by the end of 2003 this will have risen to £12m.
Much of the credit for the extra funding must go to CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton and chief executive Jon Rouse, this week's <i>Building</i> cover stars. Their proactive approach has led to a flurry of initiatives aimed at raising the profile of good quality design across the country. The government is now hoping that with more money they will be able to spread CABE's message further afield.
The latest initiative is CABE Skills, which intends to educate planning committees on Urban Design. A pilot training scheme aimed at giving committee members the design skills necessary to make informed planning decisions is taking place in 12 councils. Thanks to the injection of government funds, CABE will be able to roll out the scheme across the country if the trial is a success.
Another new venture is CABESpace, which is dedicated to promoting greater investment in creating urban parks and maintaining existing green spaces. Deputy prime minister John Prescott has already promised the venture £17.75m over three years. CABESpace will include a team of landscape architects who will offer advice and guidance to developers and local authorities and help to secure small grants.
CABE has even forged an alliance with housebuilders, which has traditionally been wary of architects interfering with their standard housetype designs. The Building for Life organisation is a joint venture between CABE and the House Builders' Federation, and it aims to raise the quality of new homes and ensure that they are sustainable and well planned.
Nobody seems to have a bad word for CABE at the moment – not even the organisations whose territory CABE is expanding into. For example, the Consumers Association is happy for CABE to position itself as the consumer's champion, and English Heritage is willing to let CABE offer advice on implementing new design and regeneration on sites of historical interest.
To mark its expansion, CABE has commissioned a new logo that uses a building block to symbolise the foundations supporting architecture, construction and education. To keep its own foundations on solid ground, CABE must now make sure its dynamism and flexibility is not compromised as it increases in size from three to 100 employees in less than four years.