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‘Saved’ Design for London heads to GLA

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Design for London (DfL) will continue with a ‘core team’ of seven, within the housing regeneration arm of the Greater London Authority (GLA), the AJ can reveal

The saved jobs, believed to be senior designers and head Mark Brearley, are among the 45 ‘specialist’staff rescued from redundancy by DfL’s parent organisation, the London Development Agency (LDA) in late January. 

These 45 positions are ‘over and above’ the 105 staff originally preserved by the LDA to oversee the agency’s official closure after March.

DfL’s future was thrown into doubt last June (AJ 17.06.10) when the government decided to close down all the regional development agencies, including the LDA.

Brearley said: ‘This is good news for Design for London. With a core team of seven confirmed for the next financial year we can continue our work for the Mayor and London, helping to shape a better city. We will roll forward with our usual enthusiasm.’

It is understood that several DfL capital spending projects, including High Street 2012 and work on the Royal Docks, will continue following the staffing announcement.

However, with the rescued LDA staff’s £56 million annual cost still yet to be approved by the treasury, any security for the roles – which include development, property and environmental specialists – remains short term.

A GLA spokesperson said: ‘We are still awaiting our final settlement before a decision can be taken on the final folding of the LDA.’

LDA deputy chief executive and group director of design, development and environment, Peter Bishop was unavailable for comment.


Open letter to the Mayor of London in support of Design for London, 22.03.11


To the people of London, to the Mayor.

The attractive among the world cities are so to a wide audience. They are attractive because they have a lot to offer to residents and visitors alike. Large cities excel at being economically powerful, they are hot-spots of social activity, they absorb and transform cultural energy, and they exhibit the world’s best buildings and spaces. In short, they are the stage for what has turned out to be one of the biggest attractions to people in our age: the urban environment.

How good that stage is depends on the quality of its spaces and buildings, on the quality of the way these are arranged and on the diversity of the arrangements. Enter design guidance on an urban scale - enter Design for London. Working with London’s impressive development community, Design for London was set up to help nurture urban qualities, to seek ways to improve the existing townscape and to find ways to connect – to mutual benefit – the new and the old. It does so not by designing, but by making sure that design briefs and the people involved in their execution match, by facilitating their collaboration and by making sure that money is spent where it matters to the people of London. Its budget compares to that of the city as the price of the oil that lubricates an engine and keeps it running smoothly.

News has circulated the world (yes, the world) that Design for London is under threat. As architects from many countries, we want to encourage the Mayor to secure the survival of this remarkable team. We hope that he is aware of how widely admired the efforts are of this small group of talented designers. London should consider itself lucky to have a skilled, knowledgeable and creative organisation supporting efforts to make it a better city.

It would be a tragedy if Design for London were allowed to wither away.



Ben van Berkel

Mario Botta

Alain de Botton

Kees Christiaanse

Frank Gehry

Adriaan Geuze

Xaveer De Geyter

Zaha Hadid

Jacques Herzog

Daniel Libeskind

Renzo Piano

Peter St John

Rafael Vinoly


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