New Architects - the Architecture Foundation's guide to the UK's best young architectural practices - comprises 160 pages of work by 83 practices, 342 images, and is targeted at potential clients, particularly groups preparing bids for projects funded by the National Lottery. Retailing at £25, the book is available from the Architecture Foundation from 24 March, and will be in bookshops country-wide from the beginning of April.
To qualify for inclusion, architectural practices had to have completed at least one building, and been appointed to undertake another. They also had to be 'new' although it is not entirely clear how this was defined.
Calls for entries in the architectural press yielded 140 replies, which were whittled down by a team of assessors. The book has been criticised, mostly by those turned down for inclusion, for setting itself up as an 'official' stamp of approval to a select group, and despite Richard Rogers' plea that it 'should not be read as glorification of a few or a finite list', the glowing introduction from Mark Fisher does give the impression of officialdom. But because the preferred practices are featured in depth, rather than as a comprehensive list, the end result is sufficiently glossy for the 'gift book' bracket - making it a potential coffee-table book for those who would not necessarily have considered using an architect. If so, the Architecture Foundation will be one step nearer its goal of persuading the public that good design is both necessary and affordable.
Contributions from well-known architects and clients offer advice to those considering commissioning an architect. Emphasis is placed on young practices' enthusiasm and energy, although there is a warning from Roland Paoletti, director of the Jubilee Line Extension, that 'one has to be careful with younger architects because they can be too fashionable and therefore ephemeral'.
Although most of the projects featured are small commissions for private clients, the Architecture Foundation hopes that institutions which might otherwise have stuck with a tried and tested architect, or simply done without, will be encouraged to give larger commissions to young practices.