Gordon Brown applauded architects last night at a Downing Street reception

The prime minister Gordon Brown widely applauded the architecture profession last night at a reception in Downing Street.

"British design and architecture are second to none," he told the 150 or so guests gathered to mark the 175th anniversary of the RIBA and 10th anniversary of Cabe.

The prime minister went on to say:

"I think the sheer imagination that architecture brings to bear, the idea that we are building something bigger than the sum of its parts is what makes architecture and design so important to our society. It is where the imagination makes possible things that people have never conceived of.

"I want to thank you, the British architects and British designers, and I want to say what a pleasure it is to have you in Downing Street this evening.

"I don't think we have celebrated your achievements enough and the achievements of Britain in this great field, and I don't think people yet realise just how important architecture and design are going to be to our economic, as well as to our cultural and social future.

"I believe that the countries that will succeed in the modern world are the countries that have that creativity, are able to show that in practice by architecture, design, fashion, music and everything else that is associated with creative industries. Nowhere are we better placed than in architecture and design.

"Everywhere I go round the world I see British architecture and I see the fruits of the great talent and ability we have in Britain, and everywhere I go round Britain these days I see the tremendous creativity of British architects and what you're achieving in new schools, new hospitals, but also in new public as well as private buildings.

"It is because we are leading in so many of the creative industries, of which architecture and design are so fundamental, that I believe the future of Britain is very secure and I believe that people around the world look to Britain for new ideas and to see how new talent is creating a better future for us."

"Thank you for what you contribute to your own communities and to Britain as a whole and thank you for what you contribute to Britain's reputation around the world."

He added: "What singles you out is the utter creativity and the magnificent talent that is brought to bear in giving people a glimpse of what people are capable of doing. Some of the buildings that I have seen - including the new Olympic buildings - will be great landmarks for decades, and indeed centuries, to come. What we are managing to achieve with our schools and hospitals, and your designs of them, is far greener, far more user-friendly, far more exciting buildings in which young people are excited to learn and which patients believe that they are being treated not just as a number but as people who really believe that they are important.

"I want to thank you for your contribution to what is an exciting public services building programme, as well as everything you do to make our environment cleaner and greener."

Architects present included Amanda Levete, David Chipperfiled and Terry Farrell. Keith Clarke of Atkins, Richard Steer of Gleeds and Nick Raynsford were amongst the smattering of guests from other sectors of the construction industry.