WITHOUT SOMEONE TO PUSH CHANGE FORWARD, NOTHING EVER HAPPENS
When I first thought about this editorial, it all seemed so easy: I'd produce a piece praising Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his immense achievements. Given the building study and the 200th anniversary this week of the great man's birth, it seemed particularly apt.
But then this simple plan came to a sudden halt when I attended a press trip to view the transformed Broadcasting House. This tour was conducted not by Richard MacCormac, the driving force behind the scheme, but instead by a community relations officer. He was pleasant, but very definitely not an architect.
The following evening, I joined the audience at an Architecture Foundation event discussing community consultation in the planning process.
No one really questioned whether consultation for consultation's sake was worthwhile.
Just one short hour later I received a call from an AJ reporter attending the planning meeting being held in Camden to decide the fate of Argent's extraordinary proposals for King's Cross. After years of prevaricating, planners had finally given the scheme the green light.
What is the point of relating these seemingly unrelated events? They all serve to illustrate that determination as an attribute is increasingly underrated in this business.
Public enthusiasm for a scheme is all well and good, but without an individual determined to push change forward, nothing ever happens.
Roger Madelin, the developer behind King's Cross, is not an architect. Nor was Brunel, but his courageous commitment ensured the construction of many seemingly impossible projects.
Architects should stop being embarrassed by the idea of individual vision and stop being entrapped by gooey softly-softly public consultation exercises. They should stand up, Brunel-style, and shout from the roof-tops that they are the people with the big ideas, and that they know what needs to be done.