A new committee of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment will give clients the courage to adopt bold designs claims its leader, Sunand Prasad.
CABE’s enabling committee, led by commissioner Prasad, will offer developers and public sector clients advice on procurement and choice of architects before new-build schemes go to planning.
The committee has hired a full-time member of staff, Joanna Averley, formerly associate director of architect EDAW. It also has a 12-strong panel, including Cambridge University professor of architecture Peter Carolin.
It is already advising on a major urban regeneration scheme in Lincoln and on new childcare centres planned for the government’s Sure Start scheme.
Prasad said the committee would help the CABE raise the profile of improving the built environment.
“Its role is to direct and assist clients to be better at being clients.
“We want to help them to be sure they are obtaining what they want. Very often, clients need the courage to go ahead with bold designs.”
Prasad said that the CABE’s predecessor, the Royal Fine Art Commission, did similar enabling work but was not as proactive:
“Its enabling work wasn’t organised. It wasn’t in the foreground of its work.”
He stressed that the committee would not concentrate on big projects or London schemes. “The committee is not for grands projets. The same imagination and sensibility needs to be in place for different scales of work.”
Prasad said the committee had concerns about new forms of procurement, including the private finance initiative. “No one has yet worked out how to marry design with PFI and design and build. We think we know how it can be done.”
He pointed to the CABE’s work with the Lord Chancellor’s department, which led the department to include design as a separate stage of the PFI bidding process, as one example of this. He added that the concept of a design exemplar – where the client has a strong idea of how the scheme should look – would also strengthen the role of design in PFI work.
He added: “We are not going to preach to people. We only want to work with people who are genuinely interested in the committee.”
Developers reacted positively to the move. Greycoat development director Chris Strickland said: “I think it would be very helpful. A lot of developers would appreciate such guidance.”
The enabling committee is one of six planned by the CABE. The other five are design review, project enabling, regional, education and technology/process.
CABE chairman Stuart Lipton called for more government cash to support the committee’s regional push in April.