SPOT A NEED, COME UP WITH A SOLUTION AND THEN LOOK FOR A CLIENT
Terry Farrell, speaking at the celebration of his 40 years in practice this week, described his proposals for 'Tottenham Circus' - part of his Euston Road/Marylebone Road studies.
He has taken a junction that looks entirely unplanned and reinstated some proper order and decent pedestrian access.
His design would create a new public square and win back an acre of land, to be used by University College Hospital and the overtaxed Warren Street Underground station. And, the traffic engineers told him with amazement, his scheme should work better than the existing one.
One could scarcely seek a better example of architectural intelligence, or such an appropriate one, just a few days after renowned urban designer Jan Gehl slammed London at the RIBA conference as one of the world's worst cities (see page 6 and www. ajplus. co. uk/news). Gehl's criticism centred on the appalling treatment of pedestrians - precisely the issue that Farrell is addressing. But this is only one measure of his achievement. Although he now has a composite public/private client for this project, it began, like several of his ideas, with a proposal of his own. Farrell is one of a number of architects who are not afraid to spot a need, devise a solution and then look for a client. Most famous of these entrepreneurial schemes is the London Eye, where Marks Barfield not only pushed the idea through, but also became partial client.
Similarly, Piercy Conner helped us rethink the idea of city housing with its attention-grabbing proposal for the microflat.
There is certainly nothing wrong with obtaining work through conventional methods, nor with taking on large masterplanning projects.
But the architectural intelligence that can identify the problem, invent a client and improve our cities where conventional methods proved powerless, must be one of the best weapons against the marginalisation of architecture.