Fisher combines drive towards young blood . . .
Arts minister Mark Fisher is to lead a series of six regional seminars starting this summer to press home the merits of using younger architects, such as those featured in the Architecture Foundation's new guide (see below).
At the launch of New Architects this week in the Lux Centre in Hoxton Square, London, Fisher told the AJ that he is planning to use the book as a central point of reference in the seminars, where he hopes to bring together building commissioning representatives from local authorities, housing associations and developers, including housebuilders.
'I want this to be a working book and want it to be a point of reference for anybody commissioning a new piece of architecture, ' he said. 'This is a hard nudge to them - some local authorities don't know what good architects they have within 10 miles of the city halls.'
The seminars are only in the early planning stages, with Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol cited as possible venues. Fisher has been on 35 regional visits since being appointed and has pledged to showcase New Architects on future trips.
The Department of Culture Media and Sport has begun the process by sending out 100 copies to local authorities this week, and will be monitoring its success with a view to another edition.
'We're about to enter a decade of building that will change the shape of this country, ' said Fisher, pointing to a programme of urban regeneration, social housing, the lottery and the renovation of school stock. 'We've got to make sure public projects employ good architects.'
At the launch Fisher said one of the main aims is to improve clients' understanding and appreciation of architecture, both inside and out of government.
His quest to ensure a cross-government design policy is, however, taking longer than expected. 'The important thing is that the government is showing a new approach to architecture.' This was apparent in Donald Dewar's competitive-interview approach to the Scottish Parliament building, he said, and in John Prescott's championing of the Erskine/Hunt Thompson Greenwich Millennium Village competition.
Architecture Foundation chairman Richard Rogers echoed this view: 'I know it's Prescott's intention to continue with a design lead, ' he said.
'This is our future - what will be, rather than what is.'