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London to adopt Barcelona model

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London is set to follow Barcelona's example and have its architecture policy guided by a panel of international architects, according to the capital's new 'city architect', Lord Rogers.

Next month Lord Rogers, who was appointed to Ken Livingstone's powerful mayoral cabinet in June (AJ 8.6.00), will select international architects as part of a group of about six urban specialists to help him advise the mayor on developing London's built environment.

Lord Rogers told the AJ that he wants to follow the model used in the Catalan capital where a small group of international architects, planners and sociologists, including Rogers himself, brief the city's mayor one day a month on architectural policy and scrutinise proposed schemes.

'There will be a series of committees advising the mayor, one of which will be like the Barcelona committee and will have some foreign architects as well as urban designers and sociologists, ' he said.

Lord Rogers, who has asked to be cal led 'city architect', will work two days a week and will have responsibility for ensuring that the development of key sites, such as the Lea Valley in east London, is carried out to high design standards and according to the recommendations of the Urb an Ta sk Force .

His decision to work with foreign architects is sure to spark speculation about who will be chosen. Foreign architects already working on strategically important sites in London include Tate Modern architect Herzog & de Meuron, which is designing the new Laban Centre in Deptford, east London, and Rogers'Pompidou collaborator Renzo Piano, who is co-designing a giant 393m tower in Southwark with Broadway Malyan. Spanish architects Oriol Bohigas and Manuel de Sola-Morales, as well as French architect Dominique Perrault and London School of Economics professor Ricky Burdett, advise Barcelona mayor Joan Clos. Similar figures could be in line for a position in London.

David Mackay, partner in Barcelona-based architect MBM Architects, said that the international advisory panel has worked well. 'It's extremely good. They discuss the larger projects and recently Rogers criticised a major scheme by some American architects and the mayor listened up, ' he said.'The idea of foreign observers can only be a good thing, ' said Allies & Morrison partner and CABE design review committee member Graham Morrison. 'A confident culture is one that is open to influence abroad.'

Lord Rogers thinks that Livingstone is also ready to use his planning powers over major developments. 'Ken has a lot more power than I thought, ' he said. 'Anything of any size has to have his approval. We don't want to have conflicts so it has to be done with the approval of the people and government. But certainly Ken is very keen to do it. I'm interested in the broader strategic issues and I'm not going to be involved in planning control. I'll be looking at major sites such as the Thames corridor and the areas around major stations.'

Lord Rogers is due to meet Gordon Brown next month in a bid to secure more cash to implement the Urban Task Force's plans. He wants measures in-cluding VAT cut on the refurbishment of buildings.

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