The architect of the new Shakespeare theatre in Stratford has warned that government cuts could mark the end of great public architectural projects in Britain
Rab Bennetts has predicted that government cutbacks in building will produce a lengthy period of stagnation for British architecture.
Speaking to The Observer, Bennetts said: ‘I am pessimistic about the way cutbacks in building will affect the country. I think the government has underestimated the impact on the economy.’
Bennett’s £100m plans to build the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (pictured) could be the last of its kind, as the ‘golden age’ of Lottery Funding comes to a close. He warned, ‘Lottery grants for this scale of work are disappearing because the private sector is no longer in a position to match the funding.’
After the early Millennium boom in architecture, featuring projects such as Tate Modern, the London Eye and the redevelopment of Gateshead, Bennetts fears many comparable projects will now suffer. He exaplined: ‘Even the planned expansion of Tate Modern has a question mark over it and other similar projects are being wound up.’
Many architects fear that such a calamity in their profession will be met with the collapse of construction firms as private and government schemes are dismissed.
Bennetts warned: ‘When we had the last deep recession, the building and construction industry lost half a million people and I don’t think they ever came back. We are talking about a permanent loss of jobs and skills. And construction is the second biggest industry in the country, so of course it can depress the whole economy.’