AND NOW WHAT? Rethinking Spatial Practice20-22 April 2009
Architecture Foundation has organized three high-level discussions that
seek to share and evaluate propositions for spatial practice in a
radically changing context.
Prediction 1: The CBI expects that before the next election, 3.25 million people might be out of a job.
Prediction 2: The architect and Harvard academic Paul Nakazawa, predicts that one third of all architects might be amongst those unemployed.
Figures like this show how, as our cities, towns and neighbourhoods are affected by the current crisis, all of us practicing in the built environment professions face a fundamental challenge. But this is a challenge to more than our jobs - all the parameters of built environment projects as we knew them are affected.
No longer can we rely on predictable patterns of behaviour in daily practice and on the professional certainties of the past decades. Instead we need to recognise how the very settings of practice may change, from entrepreneurial models and funding mechanisms to client relations and questions of professional ethics. Now that the speculative housing boom is over, where should architects focus their skills? What new questions are our clients asking, and do we have the right expertise to respond? Was our role in the boom entirely innocent, and what do we want to do differently next time around?
There is an urgent need for public discussion to reflect on what this means: for the way we work, for the future of spatial practice and for how cities can develop in the post-boom era. Most of all, we need to identify and how this can be an opportunity for positive change: what viable models for urban regeneration in a beyond the consumption economy? How can this generate a more inclusive urban economy? What perspectives do we see for low-carbon growth, and how can architecture and planning contribute more forcefully to this? Without the cross-subsidy from housing and retail, how do we strengthen the urban commons of public realm and social infrastructure?
In three invited sessions, key figures debated future scenarios for a changing landscape and explore plausible solutions in housing, urban regeneration and economic development.