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V&A's David Bickle warns against ‘creative migration’ of architects leaving London

David Bickle - new director of Design, Exhibitions & FuturePlan at the V&A [May 2015]
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David Bickle, director of design at the V&A, said that architects could be forced out of London if the city does not become more affordable to live and work in

Speaking exclusively to the AJ, the architect – whose full title is director of design, exhibitions and FuturePlan – responded to pledges made by newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan earlier this week at the press launch of Tate Modern’s extension.

Khan said that culture was ‘at the heart’ of his administration and promised incentives to ‘make living and working in London affordable’ for creative people.

Responding to Khan’s comments, Bickle said: ‘I would absolutely endorse that kind of statement.’

‘There’s a real danger that we’ll see a creative migration. We’ve got to be very serious about that and I’ve spoken about it for a very long time - that we [will] begin to marginalise our creative community.

‘It’s not just artists – it’s designers and architects as much as anything, practitioners – who can barely scrape together enough money for rent. They’re being forced out to the margins of our city.’

Bickle, who worked at Hawkins\Brown for nearly 25 years before joining the V&A last May, also suggested that a ‘mechanism’ must be found that is ‘within planning policy of protecting rents or protecting neighbourhoods’.

He said: ‘Anybody who’s in the design profession doesn’t often get paid very much, and that means they can’t afford to live somewhere that’s in Zone 1 or 2 […] Places like the V&A and the Tate exist on the basis of there being an ecology that relates to creative thinking and practitioners.’

Bickle is currently overseeing a range of projects at the V&A, including Amanda Levete’s £49 million Exhibition Road building project, Kengo Kuma’s new outpost for the museum in Dundee, forthcoming phases of the FuturePlan for South Kensington and the proposed new venue within the Olympicopolis cultural quarter in east London.

Amanda Levete’s £49 million Exhibition Road building project,

Amanda Levete’s £49 million Exhibition Road building project,

Amanda Levete’s £49 million Exhibition Road building project,

He was appointed by the V&A last year following the departure of the late Moira Gemmill who left the institution in early 2015, after holding the post for more than a decade, to become director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust.

Gemmill was tragically killed in a cycling accident last year (see AJ 10.04.15).

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