Prime Minister: 'British design and architecture are second to none'
Gordon Brown’s remarks from a reception held at Downing Street last night
‘Can I say, first of all, on behalf of Sarah and myself, welcome to Downing Street. Everywhere I go round the world I see British architecture and I see the fruits of the great talent and ability we have in Britain, and everywhere I go round Britain these days I see the tremendous creativity of British architects and what you’re achieving in new schools, new hospitals, but also in new public as well as private buildings. And I want to say two words really that you don’t often hear politicians saying and that is: thank you.
‘I believe that people around the world look to Britain for new ideas’
‘Thank you for what you contribute to your own communities but to Britain as a whole and thank you for what you contribute to Britain’s reputation around the world. It is because we are leading in so many of the creative industries, of which architecture and design are so fundamental, that I believe the future of Britain is very secure and I believe that people around the world look to Britain for new ideas and to see how new talent is creating a better future for us.
‘As Ruth Reed said, 175 years ago two things actually happened almost at the same time. The first is that there was a fire in the Houses of Parliament and secondly the Royal Institute of British Architects was created. As an institute you have done enormous work over these 175 years, and what you are doing to celebrate the 175th anniversary is to encourage young talent in a way that I think should make you very, very proud indeed.
It shows huge creativity amongst young people
‘I have just seen Eastbourne College’s redesign of the Houses of Parliament; I am not sure that we can afford it at the moment and perhaps they might now turn to the redesign of the policies that Parliament actually has to deal with! It is a really exciting design and it shows huge creativity amongst young people. I have just seen and talked to the people who are responsible for winning the award for the best design this year — the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award — and that is Joseph Chamberlain College. I think we should thank all of them, students and staff and architects and builders, because this is — as all the best things are in architecture — a huge and great collaborative project which was really successful. Congratulations to the Joseph Chamberlain College.
I want to thank you for your contribution
‘What singles you out is the utter creativity and the magnificent talent that is brought to bear in giving people a glimpse of what people are capable of doing. Some of the buildings that I have seen — and Ruth mentioned the new Olympic buildings — will be great landmarks for decades, and indeed centuries, to come. What we are managing to achieve with our schools and hospitals, and your designs of them, is far greener, far more userfriendly, far more exciting buildings in which young people are excited to learn and which patients believe that they are being treated not just as a number but as people who really believe that they are important.
‘I want to thank you for your contribution to what is an exciting public services building programme, as well as everything you do to make our environment cleaner, greener, and far more exciting.
‘British design and architecture are second to none.
‘I think the sheer imagination that architecture brings to bear, the idea that we are building something bigger than the sum of its parts is what makes architecture and design so important to our society. It is where the imagination makes possible things that people have never conceived of.
I don’t think we have celebrated your achievements enough
‘I want to thank you, the British architects and British designers, and I want to say what a pleasure it is to have you in Downing Street this evening. As Ben Bradshaw said, I don’t think we have celebrated your achievements enough and the achievements of Britain in this great field, and I don’t think people yet realise just how important architecture and design are going to be to our economic, as well as to our cultural and social future.
‘I believe that the countries that will succeed in the modern world are the countries that have that creativity, are able to show that in practice by architecture, design, fashion, music and everything else that is associated with creative industries. Nowhere are we better placed than in architecture and design, so thank you all, thank you very much.’