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Andy Groarke: architects need to shape opportunities

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Practices have to make their own opportunities in a risky environment, Andy Groarke, of Carmody Groarke has said.

Speaking at the British Architecture Now event at RIBA yesterday evening, Groarke cited his firm’s RIBA regional award-winning Filling Station project in King’s Cross as an example of ‘how opportunities for a young studio to build architecture are forged’.

Groarke said: ‘The project’s intended lifespan is only three years. With a scarcity of financial and material resources, projects such as these have allowed us to test architectural ideas at an urban scale with relative impunity to the investment required for a permanent piece of architecture.

‘The forces that have shaped this temporary piece of architecture have been innovative financial, cultural and environmental entrepreneurship.’

He said: ‘Most architectural practice tends to be reactionary to opportunities, to financial cycles, property markets and to developer clients.

‘Rather than just being reactionary to opportunity, we see it as part of our responsibility to shape these opportunities with clients and collaborators - not just to design the creative identity or the image of a building and not just meeting the needs of the immediate end user.’

The Filling Station came out of an opportunity that Carmody Groarke ‘took to a developer, of introducing a restaurateur to take on the temporary occupation of a backland redundant site on the fringes of a multi-billion pound regeneration project,’ Groarke explained.

British Architecture Now was held in association with Sapa Building System at RIBA’s Jarvis Memorial Hall on Tuesday 25 June.

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