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Rapid prototyping, micro-clients and the Big Society: AJ predictions for 2011

May your days be merry and bright, we finally have green shoots to report, says Christine Murray

As part of our annual round-up of the year, the news desk was on the phone all week quizzing practices about the state of the profession. I am happy to report more than a few green shoots.

According to Christian Wewer, director of AEW Architects, ‘there is a whiff of optimism in the private and commercial sector which will drag the industry forward.’ Alistair Cory, principal of practice NBBJ, also said next year is looking bright, ‘particularly in the health, science and bio-medical field.’ Richard Scott, director of Surface Architects also felt work was picking up, ‘It is clearly a transition period, but private sector confidence is returning.’

It was a relief to hear some upbeat notes at the end of a year of delivering what felt like an endless stream of bad news, from redundancies, to bankruptcies, to cuts. Thankfully, over the past year, we’ve also had the pleasure of publishing hundreds of exemplar buildings. If you’re a subscriber, enclosed with your AJ this week is an index of the building studies of 2010, organised by architect, typology and working detail. This exhaustive, 22-page list gave the AJ team a start when we realised the sheer quantity of architecture we’ve published this year – and the index only includes significant coverage, there were plenty of first-looks and news stories not included too.

The index also revealed at least two myth-busting facts: over 60 per cent of the projects were not in London, and our typology index spans everything from bridges to schools, museums to house extensions, energy plants to a Scottish distillery. I hope it will make a useful addition to your home or office library.

Index finished, the AJ team are now busy looking ahead, assembling our first issues of 2011 and preparing for the launch of our exciting new digital product, the AJ Buildings Library. Our next issue will be published on 13 January, but in the meantime, AJ staff have volunteered a few predictions for the year to come.

Reporter Merlin Fulcher believes that architects will become community leaders through the Big Society initiative; deputy editor Rory Olcayto thinks rapid prototyping will go mainstream in 2011; AJ Specification editor Felix Mara expects architects will re-evaluate the theoretical foundations on which their work rests; digital editor Simon Hogg believes that practices will have many more, much smaller ‘micro clients’; senior editor James Pallister predicts cuts to student funding will weaken of the ‘gene pool’ of talent coming into architecture; and news editor Richard Waite expects Kengo Kuma to scale back his over-ambitious design for the £47 million V&A Dundee outpost.

As for me, I predict that in 2011, the AJ and AJ Specification will bring you 58 magazines and daily web coverage packed with exemplar building studies and all the news you need to know. Until then, I wish you the very best for a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

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