Ellis Woodman - editor
BD’s expanded coverage of overseas news reflects a changing market for architects
This issue is a significant one in BD’s 40 year history, in that it is the first to carry a section devoted to news coverage from beyond the UK. Each week, we will now be bringing you two pages of world news, including the latest information about new commercial opportunities, competition results and office expansions.
Muriel Muirden, managing director of economics at Aecom, the top-ranking practice in BD’s 2011 World Architecture survey, will be offering a monthly insight into the most dynamic emerging markets and we will be talking to UK architects who are working on the ground in those territories, learning from their first-hand experiences of cultural and legislative differences.
Since the launch of bdonline.co.uk, BD has won a new readership across the globe. Around 30% of our website’s readers are based overseas – among them at least one loyal reader in Christmas Island – and the expansion of our foreign coverage reflects that change. These pages’ introduction is also, however, a response to the fact that our readers in the UK are increasingly looking to foreign markets to sustain their practices.
Just a few years ago, the relatively few British firms working overseas could be divided neatly into two camps. One comprised the kind of practice that features in the World Architecture Survey – very large, multi-disciplinary firms geared towards the demands of the international office, hotel and retail market. The other featured practices that were smaller but offered a much more architecturally refined product – the likes of Chipperfield and Hadid, whose international workload was overwhelmingly focused on high-profile cultural commissions in mainland Europe and America.
Today, the picture is a much more complex one. A great many more UK practices are now working overseas and the range of work that they are undertaking is far wider.
Until last year, the only building that Allies & Morrison had completed outside the UK was the British Embassy in Dublin. Today, drawing particularly on its track record for masterplanning in historic contexts, it has secured commissions in Beirut, Qatar, Egypt, India and Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, Edward Cullinan Architects’ long-held concern with sustainable planning has secured it the commission for a carbon-neutral town in Libya. Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is putting the expertise it has developed in high-density housing to unexpected use in Ghana.
Would these practices have pursued work in such territories had the search not been dictated by commercial necessity? Perhaps not, but we should be grateful they have. Their experience has revealed that if British architects are willing to engage with foreign markets, they soon discover that there is no shortage of appetite for the range of skills they have to offer.
Whether 2011 will be the year in which the UK market enjoys a revival remains a hotly contested question (see Debate). However, even when business here does pick up, UK architects will not forget the new markets that they have discovered over the difficult past three years. Indeed, that loss of parochialism may prove to be one of the few welcome legacies of this downturn. British architecture has become a truly global operation and BD is changing to reflect that fact.
21 January 2011
14 January 2011
07 January 2011
07 January 2011
6 January 2011