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What a hard, great year

2008 began in boom and ends facing bust. But there is still much to make us optimistic, says Kieran Long

It has been a fascinating year for architects. At the beginning of the year, the AJ was fully focused on fast-moving projects up and down the country, attempting to wrest some understanding of place from the seemingly unstoppable progress of developer-led regeneration. They were building smaller and smaller flats at higher and higher densities in an attempt to justify extraordinary land values. They were also building most of our public buildings, with Section 106 payouts creating a new generation of facilities and the majority of the country’s social housing.

As the first half of the year wore on, work slowed, but there was little sign of the devastation waiting for the residential market and the construction industry in general. By the summer, jobs had become scarce. In August (AJ 14.08.08), we reported that there was a chronic shortage of places for new graduates to get work. The recruitment sections were still pretty full, though, with opportunities in the emerging markets of the Middle East. That indebted market, we now know, was just as exposed to the credit crisis.

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