Apologies to readers from beyond the South East but I want to write about something distinctly regionalist. While it is true that there is life, and plenty of it, well beyond the boundaries of the M25, it is also true that London is a huge honeypot for construction work and architects.
But when it comes to manufacturing, the South East, with its sky-high property prices, seems distinctly unpromising. So it felt incongruous to catch a train, as I did recently, from Waterloo into affluent Surrey to see a manufacturer.
Kite Glass, a specialist in toughening and laminating glass for architectural use, is based on an industrial estate just outside Weybridge.
Surely this is an exorbitantly expensive location?
The thought recurred when, later the same week, I met the managing director of Cordek, a company that specialises in using foam in construction. Its traditional market is in engineering but it is moving into more architectural applications. It makes formers for spiral stairs; made the fibreglass panel for the interiors of the pods in Arup's new head office shown in our cladding theme (pages 53-68);
and also worked on the ill-fated house in Doha, Qatar, that played a large part in the downfall of Kathryn Findlay's practice. And where is Cordek based? Not in some gritty industrial zone but among the golf courses of West Sussex.
The reason such smart locations suit these manufacturers is because of their proximity to London. High-pressure projects demand delivery of materials in tight time slots. If you are nearby, you can send your trucks off early in the morning and meet your delivery schedules.
Companies further away have to pay their drivers for an overnight stay. So the good news for those in the South East is that there is an incentive to keep manufacturing here. And for those elsewhere in the country, the good news is that local production, desirable on so many fronts, is being encouraged by site logistics.