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Architects are breaking the mould and finding new ways to win work

Emily Booth
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In these exciting – if tricky – times, practices are finding new and ingenious ways of working and connecting with clients, writes Emily Booth

As much of the building profession pounds the floors of the Palais and stalks the cafés of the Croisette at MIPIM, it is interesting to observe the traditional hunt for clients. Or would it be better described as a dance? Perhaps it’s more like a ritual courtship display, where the hopeful candidates jump about and primp their plumage to catch the eye of those who can unlock the commissions and the cash.

Whatever – it is good to know that some of the rules are changing. While chance meetings at MIPIM can result in something beautiful, there are other ways of doing things. These are exciting, if tricky, times to be in the world of architecture, and practitioners are finding new and ingenious ways of working and connecting with clients.

CLTs are about giving power to the people – and showing that there are other options for commissioning social housing

Ella Jessel’s new report into community land trusts (CLTs) is an excellent case in point. Her article is the first in our occasional series of news features, interviews and analyses focusing on new ways of working in architecture. 

CLTs are about giving power to the people – and they challenge the rest of the market to show that there are other options for commissioning and building social housing.

Their flexibility is key: CLTs can unlock government money from the Community Housing Fund and see architects team up with developers and community groups in innovative ways to get projects built. 

Architect voting event 1

Architect voting event 1

They are also introducing some compelling new formats, such as community groups voting for the architects they want to work with. Public ballots may push practices out of their comfort zones (‘It’s a bit mad!’ said one) but, in terms of connecting directly with residents, it’s certainly positive.

As Ella writes: ‘CLTs shape-shift, taking on different forms depending on the particular housing problems of the community they spring up in.’ This model challenges traditional notions of what client-architect relationships can be.

We’ll be continuing the important discussion about the central role of the new client-architect relationship in our upcoming AJ Summit event on 4 April. Focusing on collaboration, and hosted by developer U+I at its head office in London’s Victoria, the AJ Summit is an opportunity to learn, share and network with top clients, engineers and construction firms during a thought-provoking day of discussion and debate. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • how many homes have been built in the UK from CLT's so far? Id love to live in one but it seems like there are only a dozen or so houses for the friends of people who set them up. Why is that?

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