As many as 40 per cent of Libya’s construction projects could be up for review despite pledges by the country’s liberators to honour all ‘legally obtained’ contracts, a leading architect within the country has said
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With Muammar Gaddafi deposed, Tripoli-based architect Walid Abdussalam El-Turki, chair of the 250-strong Allabina Architecture and Engineering firm, said it would be ‘easier in Libya to sign new contracts than to restart old contracts’.
‘The new Libyan government will need to reassess around 40 per cent of the projects, because they may have been commissioned for reasons besides being needed,’ he said. El-Turki also said government departments needed more professional expertise and that health, education and housing projects would be a priority in meeting the needs of Libya’s young liberators, whose average age was 21.
His comments follow a two-week deadline set by the leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) on Monday for the formation of an interim government. An elected government, which would be able to sign long-term contracts, is expected to follow in eight months’ time.
John Southgate, Capita Symonds executive director of design and infrastructure, said he was ‘only just establishing who our new clients are’ but was already in dialogue about restarting the company’s stalled Benghazi airport scheme.
He said: ‘We have a plan in place that will allow us to be back building in Libya by the end of the year.’ But he warned Libya was not ready for an influx of visitors. ‘There is no infrastructure to allow masses of UK companies to mobilise. It may be some time before new contracts are signed.’
BWCP principal Brian Waters said a Tripoli metro project with HTA and HOK had received messages of support from its clients. He added: ‘The British are held in extremely high esteem in Libya. Previously, a number of British architects were out there working. It’s all going to be much easier from now on.’
Peter Morrison, chief executive RMJM
A few hours after Gaddafi’s death last Thursday I met with the Libyan Ambassador to the US in Washington DC who defected 4 days after the revolution, refusing to be part of the Gaddafi regime any longer. I was both moved by his courage and inspired by his and the new Libyan government’s ambition for their country and told him that RMJM were very excited about playing a full part in the rebuilding of Libya.
Joe Morris, director Duggan Morris Architects
There should be a common, moral obligation to assist in the re-build of this civil war torn zone.
For UK practices, the temptation is to tactlessly dive in and take any pickings available given the blighted economy in the UK and Europe. However, the approach needs to be measured, responsible and with a clear conscience that it’s about making real change, to real people who up until now have had no voice and no one listening.
Dexter Moren Associates
Reports of a free Libya are an encouraging sign, but it is also a time to allow the country and community to reconcile and re-establish democracy before embarking on grandiose schemes. Once stabilised, the rich natural features and historic sites [will] offer a unique opportunity for tourism that will hopefully respond to localism rather than the desire to emulate international models. Past isolation from such pressure leaves an opportunity to secure appropriate developments that reinforce the uniqueness of Libya.
Philip Graham of Edward Cullinan Architects
If big business makes bad towns quickly on the back of a destabilised government it could cause lasting problems for the future. Regardless of war damage there is a great need for proper housing and I’m absolutely sure this demand hasn’t gone away.
UK Trade and Investment
The British government will continue to work with the NTC and will cascade information to British companies when the time is right to do so.
Jan van Dijk, van Dijk International
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Libyan people and with the many young people who have died and been injured to achieve their freedom.
The task now is to re-build the organisational structure of the country in a way that is inclusive, peace loving, caring and responsible. I have no doubt that the very sophisticated and educated people of Libya can achieve this and that Libyan society will be one to admire in years to come.
I am sure that Libyans will also now reflect on how to re-build and construct anew their built environment. I suspect they will take their time and learn from the mistakes made by both western and middle-east countries. They have a wonderful opportunity to create an environment which is in essence Libyan, Mediterranean, sustainable, and low key rather than the thoughtless transposition of inappropriate International Style Architecture which has occurred in many countries.
When eventually architectural planning and design begin again, I hope that they will employ firms with Libyan architects and a desire to create an architecture which has a real “sense of place” which can become an exemplar for future building throughout the region.
I wish the very best for the Libyan people and I look forward to helping them when the time is right and they are ready.
It is clear Libya has an urgent need for support to repair and develop its infrastructure and as one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies we are actively assessing a number of opportunities where our multidisciplinary technical expertise could be of benefit. The health and safety of our staff and commercial confidence will be paramount considerations in any decisions we make.