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Welcome to the era of austerity

Bovis Lend Lease boss Nick Pollard calls for an end to ‘opulence’

The head of one of the world’s largest development companies has called on the UK’s architecture profession to embrace a culture of austerity in response to the financial crisis.

Nick Pollard, chief executive of Bovis Lend Lease UK, said a lack of financing has led to questions over the direction architecture must take to survive.

Speaking at the AJ100 Breakfast Club, held at Claridge’s hotel in London last week, Pollard said architects should use this opportunity for a cultural shift and employ techniques to ensure longer-lasting designs: ‘I cannot see the era of unrestrained opulence continuing. We need to think about scale and order. Must everything be shock and awe?’

He added: ‘Great things can happen in austere times. It’s about not being too clever. Designing too tight means you limit flexibility.’

Pollard said the financial meltdown had created ‘huge uncertainty in the market’ meaning that ‘no one wanted to commission’.

However, he added that there would be opportunities for less high-profile firms, as clients baulked at paying huge fees. 

‘Some buried talent may come to the fore, with clients seeking less a name or signature and returning to more grounded values.’

Pollard called for an end to adversarial contracts and a more integrated relationship between partners involved in projects. Citing the London Olympic Village, he warned that only by working together will the project be successful. ‘It’s about having a single, coherent voice about legacy. The success of the village will depend on the integration of that with its surrounding communities.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • A little odd that a 'call to end opulence' should be made it what some may consider to be an opulent venue such as Claridges don't you think?

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  • Harp harp harp! Opulence? Austerity? Sounds vaguely familiar are you sure he’s not going on about super value engineering.

    At the cost of sounding pompous: why are we even entertaining this man's thoughts. He’s underlying message is: you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. We are all in the same boat and Mr Contractor is asking us the same question he always asks of us, but now publicly. In our hour of need to abandon our values and morals for the sake of the bottom line.

    Well it is a time like this when our profession is under severe pressure that we stick to our guns, stick to our principles and retake our solemn vows as architects.

    This is a long standing dichotomy between the design profession and the build profession; we are and will always be faithful to the sacred trinity and worship there for better or worse unlike our infidel brethren.

    I refuse to be part of a generation who builds soulless buildings on a shoe-string because Nick thought it would get more work on his desk, I promise you this, it would be the start of the end of the profession we would have put the last nail in our own damn coffin.

    Sunand/ ARB where are you? Remember the mantra: protecting the consumer and safeguarding the reputation of architects: well I haven’t yet paid my fees this year but that is no reason to ignore me.

    Time for lunch…
    Ciao for now.

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  • Nick may be happy and is welcome to openly advertise that his company is now offering cheaper buildings with cheaper quality just don’t drag me or my profession into it thanks, and please let’s not give this man a forum to express himself - as well as breakfast!

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