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Recession will spawn great building designs

April 12th, 2010

Recession will be good for building design and is likely to spawn some great and best-value architectural creations, says Michael Thirkettle, chief executive of McBains Cooper.

Mr Thirkettle was speaking after Prince Charles’ speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), where, 20 years ago, the Prince of Wales hijacked proceedings with an all-out assault on British building architecture and design in his famous “monstrous carbuncles” outburst.

“One thing that a recession is doing that no end of royal table thumping could do is to focus the creativity, engineering nous and budgeting of the people planning and designing the next generation of buildings in the UK,” said Michael Thirkettle.

London-based McBains Cooper has regional headquarters in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Windsor, Lima (Peru) and Mexico City, with associate offices in Belfast and Dublin.

“Money is tight, so the architects are thinking harder than ever about the design, they’re staying friends with the engineers, and neither are going off on one making self-indulgent statements about design features that some may see as brave, but others may see as stupid,” he added.

“The key is that they have seen what happens when they design to a budget and do it without passion: we end up with the concrete jungles of the 1960s; equally, they have seen what can happen if they go completely out of control: showpiece building projects going way over budget, way over-the-top – and being massively criticised”.

The smart ones know that they have to create perpetually startling designs, laced with practicality.

“The fact is that while in the recent past many designers have considered going over budget to be a divine right of architects, the truth is that if they get it wrong in the current and near future climate, then the job may well simply stop when the money runs out should a less well disciplined project manager be responsible for the budget”.

McBains Cooper has offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Windsor, Lima (Peru) and Mexico City, with associate offices in Belfast and Dublin.

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