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161 schemes by 137 practices: The AJ in 2012

The AJ published 161 schemes by 137 practices this year – and 62% were not in London, writes Christine Murray

In this issue, subscribers will receive our 2012 AJ Index, a guide to the buildings and details we’ve published across the AJ and AJ Specification this year.

Cutting the numbers in the spreadsheet has become an annual tradition. This year, the AJ covered 161 projects by 137 different practices, nearly 10 per cent more than last year. The average page count of the AJ weekly magazine also went up by 16 pages in 2012, which explains why we were able to fit more buildings in. We published 76 details, from wine cellars to rooflights.

No practice was covered more than twice, with the exception of Duggan Morris Architects, which had four projects covered – two schools and two houses. Its coverage was boosted further in being shortlisted for both the Manser Medal and the Stephen Lawrence Prize (which it won). A remarkable 37 per cent of the buildings we covered were classed as residential, including houses, house extensions, housing and mixed-use schemes – suggesting despite depressed numbers, the residential sector is central to the profession. We also covered 28 education projects, including 18 primary and secondary schools, and 17 galleries and museums, including Jan Kaplický of Future System’s final project, the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

This year, 62 per cent of the buildings we covered were not in London (a two per cent improvement), an achievement given the uneven development taking place in the UK at the moment. But coverage of Scotland was down on last year – just six per cent compared with last year’s 10 per cent. On the plus side, last year I called for more buildings from Northern Ireland and Wales. We published three in Northern Ireland, and two in Wales: Heneghan Peng’s Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre, and two projects in Belfast: O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Lyric Theatre and the MAC by Hackett Hall McKnight; in Wales, we covered BFLS’ Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and Coed Gwern Bird Hide by CAT Professional Diploma students in Machynlleth, which featured in AJ Small Projects. The AJ widened its remit in 2012 to cover buildings internationally where relevant to British practice. As a result, 9 per cent of the projects we covered were overseas, in places such as Finland, Bangkok, Singapore, Oklahoma and Oslo.

As for the AJ Buildings Library, the top 10 searches on our archive of 1,500 buildings were for the following keywords in order of popularity: library, theatre, brick, McLaren, house, Olympics, school, nursery, university and museum. The odd one out is clearly McLaren – it’s unlikely architects were viewing Foster’s factory for precedent studies; the project has gained a strong cult following among AJBL visitors.

Other typologies in the search list relate to popular competitions held in 2012: many of you will have entered the Helsinki library competition, and many will also have competed for the glut of work at universities as they tooled up to compete for tuition fees. Another odd one out is brick. The beloved material of British architects (and planners), was commonly employed in house extensions, of which there were many, as the still depressed housing market encouraged owners to improve, rather than move.

All the best of the season to you from the AJ team and wishing you a prosperous new year.

Readers' comments (3)

  • 38% of your 2012 buildings being London is intriguing. And if your coverage follows the money, i.e. accurately reflects construction nationwide, that's great... Ages and ages ago there were suspicions that AJ metropolitan bias reflected the home base of lazy journalists ratherthan volume of work. That's a distant rumour.

    AJ 2012 was great. Moreover, when was the last year Helensburgh had 35 mentions in the AJ! Now that's magic.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • OK, calculator mistake. That should be 3.5.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Christine Murray

    Thanks John, but 3.5? When did we half mention Helensburgh?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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