In America you compete by building; in Britain you compete to build. That used to be the big difference between the two countries in the old days when British architects and planners were invited to lecture the Americans on public housing and New Towns. Now it is even worse, what with CABE and Health and Safety on the UK side, and the lecturing trend going into reverse. If you are pretending to be designing an airport for the next 10 years, the best thing you can do is to get yourself swamped by a big American name.
But let's look on the dark side for a moment. If this doesn't work, can you make a career out of not building anything at all?
Surprisingly, you can. Play your cards right and you could even find yourself at the sharpest cutting edge since Prince Charles upstaged Charles Correa at Hampton Court. Who knows, you might even end up lecturing stateside.
There are three stages to a career in disarchitecturalisation (as we call it). The first is objecting. This is as simple as it sounds; all you do is let it be known that you think that a proposed major development is 'questionable'.
This is a very useful word because, oddly enough, people never question it, yet it strikes the victim like a dagger to the heart. You can, for instance, look at the computergenerated image of a major pedestrianisation scheme and privately consider that it looks like the Alexanderplatz at the height of the DDR, but you must not say that. Just murmur that it looks 'questionable' and others will supply the comparisons while you garner the gravitas.
After a few months of questionablising, you will be able to appear on Radio 4's You and Yours without passing a sleepless night wondering what to say, and you will be invited to uproarious drinks parties at English Heritage where people will start to let you into all kinds of secrets.
The second stage involves making use of all the data you have accumulated during your 'questionable' campaign. You do this by speaking at a prominent public inquiry in your own recognisance and reading out a long deposition consisting of lavish praise for every person or organisation that has ever supported your own one-word analysis. This excruciating personal praise element will shield you from possible counter-attacks that might otherwise hint that perhaps you are a bit 'questionable' yourself. But don't worry, you are almost home and dry.
The creative stage comes last, but it is worth waiting for. This is when you throw off your cloak of negativism and subtly advance your own vision of a revolutionary disarchitecturalised built environment consisting exclusively of Grade I-listed historic buildings deployed in a vast sculpture park lined with processional ways. There will be no 'questionable' elements in this city of the future. There will be no houses, no office blocks, no conspicuously modern buildings of any kind, and no motorised traffic either. Citizens will wander from palace to cathedral to mausoleum on foot, or else on three-speed bicycles with wickerwork baskets.
Obviously at this point you may have to stump up a few bob for digital images of your own, but yours will be cheaper because all that has to be done is to delete the 'questionable' buildings and traffic from well-known views of St Paul's. Now it will be your turn to be praised! Your proposed phase one demolition of 148,795 objectionable buildings will be described as dramatic, thoughtprovoking, radical, far-sighted and, best of all, essential.
With any luck you will never need to use the word 'questionable'again.