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D&B championed in English Partnerships design guide

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A new government guide to procuring buildings features a case study where the original architect won a competition to design it but was ousted in favour of design and build.

Written by former arts council architecture chief Rory Coonan, ep's Time for Design 2 - good practice in building, landscape and urban design has as its centrepiece and cover a case study of Eric Parry's Westlakes Innovation Centre near St Bees, a deprived area of West Cumbria.

Parry, who won the job to design the centre through an English Partnerships- run competition with Coonan as an adviser, was told originally that it would be a jct contract. However, the client, Westlakes Properties, and ep brought in local architect Day Cummings Architects and a builder after Parry worked the project up to Stage D. Parry says he is now unhappy with the 'tailoring' of the building in terms of the balustrades, and details of the fenestration and fire doors, for example, and it is to his 'deep regret' that his practice was not novated to the job. He was, however 'quite knocked out' by the spatial arrangement and pleased by the use of artwork.

Parry said: 'It's a fantastic setting but the opportunity wasn't taken to its logical architectural conclusion.' The building, which caters for high-tech enterprises in a lakeland setting, opens this autumn.

The guide, written predominantly for clients, notes that 'this form of design-and-build can work well provided that sufficient time is allowed for detailed design before tendering for construction.'

Three years after the original was published, it emphasises 'liveable places' and includes a case study of the Greenwich Millennium Village, updated sections on housing and telecommunications advances such as fibre- optic cabling, as well as new introductions by ep chief executive Antony Dunnett and Lord Richard Rogers. The new guide was to be launched at the Space '98 exhibition, cancelled due to low levels of reservations.

'tfd2 concentrates on practice, rather than polemic,' said Coonan. 'Most accept that the climate has changed and that you don't have to argue any more that design matters - that argument appears to have been won.' Coonan attributed this feeling - expanded upon by Rogers in his introduction - partly to standards being raised thanks to the lottery's impact.

The free guide, which concentrates on real examples, will be used by the new Regional Development Agencies, and is available by ringing ep on 0171 976 7070.

English Partnerships is shortly to announce a national panel of architectural advisers.

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