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The year of standing up and being counted

Confidence: it’s the key to economic recovery, and by implication, for the impetus to invest in building good architecture

Confidence is key to strong independent journalism, too.

This year we got our groove back. It’s good to see the profession, if not back on its feet, then off its knees. Many practices are busy and growing in profit and size, and most are confident that better times are ahead.

And the AJ is growing again too - in confidence, in the quality and quantity of coverage that we do (both daily on our website and in our pages) and in subscriptions. We will end the year with 8 per cent more subscribers year-on-year. In publishing this is rare, and I want to thank you for your vote of confidence.

Last year, in this issue, I pledged to ‘speak not only to our audience of architects, but on behalf of them, using all our platforms to ensure the voice of our subscribers is heard, loud and clear, in the halls of power’.

We have a quarter of a million visits to our website every month and our Twitter followers now number 95,000. That’s why online coverage is central to the strength of our influence - and our reach across the built environment is bigger than at any other time in the AJ’s history.

We are passionate about architecture and believe in the importance of a quality built environment for all. We use our insider’s view of the profession to report and campaign on issues that matter to architects. So how did we do?

The AJ More Homes, Better Homes campaign influenced the outcome of the Housing Standards Review, and continues to participate in the debate with government, advisors, housebuilders and key stakeholders on how housing quality can be enshrined without inhibiting growth.

Our lesbian, gay and bisexual architecture coverage resulted in Scottish Green Party MP Patrick Harvie questioning the RIAS about their support for lesbian, gay and bisexual members - breaking news that saw the AJ shortlisted by Stonewall for Publication of the Year.

The Women in Architecture campaign’s coverage saw me and several prominent architects invited by minister for women and equalities Maria Miller MP to discuss how the government can better support women working in creative industries. Our interview with Denise Scott Brown and call for the awarding of a retrospective Pritzker Prize resulted in changes to both the Pritzker Prize and the AIA Gold Medal’s criteria. Plus, more practices are examining their books to ensure that their women are paid equally and fairly, and considering flexible working options.

It’s still early days for our sustainability campaign, Bridge the Gap, which highlights the gulf in predicted and actual energy performance. But it has raised awareness of the shocking truth that many of our green buildings simply aren’t at all, despite the shiny badges. And the Green Rethink conference hosted this autumn showed our commitment to unpacking the greatest challenge we face - building a sustainable future, economically, socially and ecologically.

As the most trusted authority for architects on design-led architecture and the future of this industry, our this pledge this year is to inform and act as the unified voice of architects, from sole traders to the AJ100, and represent their view to the wider industry.

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