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Architecture Tomorrow is your chance to show people who want to build what you can do

This is a show aimed at clients, rather than other architects. It is an unashamed showcase for practices to strut their stuff, writes Paul Finch

Atom

Many years ago I started a publication distributed to coincide with Interbuild (or the Building Exhibition as it was originally known, launched in 1895 – the same year as the AJ). Other magazines filled their Interbuild editions with product information, frequently highly uncritical. By contrast, we decided to invite readers to send in projects on the drawing board or under construction, a large selection of which we then published. The idea was to showcase ideas and proposals which were current, rather than already delivered: a guide to the history of the immediate future.

The idea has been given a good brushing-down and updated to coincide with a quite different sort of event, which takes place for the first time in October this year. MIPIM UK is an offshoot of the annual Cannes-based MIPIM international property festival. Such has been the interest in a UK version that the organiser, Reed Midem, has taken the plunge and booked a hall at Olympia for three days.

Architecture Tomorrow’ is the AJ’s response: an exhibition of future projects by UK-based practices, accompanied by a catalogue. We have leased space in the hall to create an architecture pavilion. This will offer an excellent opportunity for architects to show their work to potential and existing clients, from both public and private sectors. And, although it is primarily a UK show, there will be overseas clients and investors brought in by UK Trade & Investment, which is supporting the event.

It should be stressed that this is not another award scheme, of which there are already plenty. Nor are we asking practices to pay money up-front in order to submit work. Instead, all are invited to send simple submissions electronically (details are available elsewhere in this issue). An AJ team will pick the schemes to be exhibited, by category – including overseas work. Practices will then pay to be exhibited, and asked to provide an exhibition board.

So the principle is that you only pay if you are exhibited, which I think practices should be prepared to do, firstly because it is relatively inexpensive, and secondly because this is a show aimed at clients, rather than other architects. It is an unashamed showcase for practices to strut their stuff.

From past experience I don’t doubt that we will find new practices doing good work that will not have been published or exhibited in the past, and work by well- known practices of which we knew very little.

In particular, the ‘export architecture’ category should be highly revealing, a reminder to government that architecture is not simply a matter of design, intellect or aesthetics, but a stimulus to business. Who knows, despite their total failure to appear at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, perhaps a minister or two might deign to show a face at an exhibition about

the changing face of this country over the next few years – with housing, school and hospital design showing that we can do all this really well, given half a chance.

Of course much of the interest on the part of some MIPIM UK visitors will be in traditional commercial architecture – offices, shops, industrial, mixed use – but, from observation, the attitude of clients and investors has changed significantly in recent years. Housing is now regarded as very much part of the commercial scene, and education and health are now regarded as asset classes in their own right. Tastes are changing.

Will practices respond? Let’s hope so. Architecture Tomorrow (Atom for short) represents a new opportunity to show off the wealth of talent and innovation in current UK architecture, to an audience which wants to build. Give it a go.

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