Following investigations into London’s Garden Bridge nineteen architects have written to the Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, calling for better ‘bottom up’ enablement of public services through regulatory clarity.
“There is now little motivation for design professionals to initiate and nurture projects from inception as almost invariably the original designers will be preclude as the established competition processes are highly restrictive.
This effectively ‘locks out’ many of those who would be particularly well placed to support ‘bottom up’ endeavours, whether for example through the engagement of design professionals with their communities or by creating imaginative and valuable design ideas contributing to the city’s wider needs, vitality and wellbeing.”
The proposals tabled would “..allow all to benefit from the positive and creative endeavours of those developing built environment ideas for public good.
“London has many challenges and it is clear that we need to find a way that will encourage design professionals to come forward with ideas and to engage with communities in order to meet these challenges, and for client bodies to know they can access those ideas and benefit from the knowledge and work already carried out.”
Bad law and regulations drive bad practices and ultimately can lead to the system being undermined. It is clear this was a driver specifically in matters surrounding the Garden Bridge procurement.
Margaret Hodge in the Garden Bridge enquiry appropriately raised a key question: “How are architects to be appointed in future if they come up with an idea which is determined to have a public benefit on all other accounts” (ie. probity, transparency, fairness etc).
This issue however should be seen in the wider context of UK procurement constraints. Public Procurement regulations have frequently precluded architects engagement and enablement in the service of their communities at a local level. This has been accompanied by procedures that have eroded the value of designers and their IP. This stymies opportunities, potential and growth, and serves no-ones interests.
By clarifying ambiguities in the regulations with a better system having a determination by independent peer review that is justifiably sound under the regulations, opportunities and capacity can be opened up.
Following submission of this letter we now invite other architects to join this campaign.
In addition to the 19 originating signatories, subsequent registered signatories are scheduled here: