Leeds has yet to receive the architectural patronage which its position as England's second financial centre would suggest. Unlike, say, Frankfurt or Houston, wealth is a private not public affair. The exhibition 'Eminent and Imminent' at the riba's Site Gallery is a reminder of what talent is available in the city, especially in younger designers.
The eminent of the title are Stirling Prize winner Michael Wilford and the still-youngish Allies and Morrison. The imminent waiting to blast on to the scene are a mixture of well-established Yorkshire practices, such as Studio Baad and One Seventeen ad, and unknown tearaways. Of these, some haven't built at all while others are gestating at the virtual architecture level.
Inevitably in an exhibition of young blood, there are many competition entries, some of premiated designs. Most are supported by splendid models or atmospheric cad images. Unfortunately there are no moving images, no taste through the interactive screen of the tectonic experience breaking into reality.
Refreshingly, the exhibition does not over-hype our craft. There are measured, reflective projects as well as flights of fancy. Two themes run through practically everything on display from the young blood - those of sustainability and smallness. Wilford and Allies and Morrison give us mainly assured bigness, but Core Architects, Bareham Andrews and Hodson Design show that the detailed assembly matters too. This is a timely lesson for Leeds, which has mastered the large-scaled but not the refined.
Most newly qualified architects realise that being green is as much an aesthetic as an environmental experience. The projects on display are not directly about low-energy design but signal the revolution in taste which sustainability is bringing. Studio Baad's Soft Ware House is an example of Deconstruction and sustainable principles heralding a new age for architecture. Its large model of a house-cum-office with tuneable passive solar collectors, wind generators and photovoltaic panels, is an unlikely mixture of the Vales' Nottingham house and Libeskind's v&a extension.
Brian Edwards is a professor at the University of Huddersfield