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Architects are rising to the challenges of turbulent times

Emily Booth
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If the best architecture is made in times of crisis there could be much to look forward to, writes Emily Booth 

This time last year, we crossed out 2016 on the cover of the AJ. It had been such a difficult 12 months for so many reasons – the death of Zaha Hadid, the vote for Brexit, the vote for Trump – that it seemed almost better to expunge it altogether.

2017 has been a time of dealing with and moving forward from such shocks – as well as absorbing new ones. This year, we’ve put both 2017 and 2018 on the cover – acknowledging that we’re at that unsettling, stock-taking time when we look back at what’s gone and look ahead to new challenges.

David barbour hy8075b

David barbour hy8075b

Source: David Barbour

Haddo Yard, Whitstable, by Denizen Works

‘Unsettling’, of course, can be a catalyst for creativity. I sat at a dinner recently next to a giant of the profession, who said with a wry smile: ‘Well, the best architecture is made in times of crisis.’ They’re right. The economy might be wobbling; Trump might be horrifying; some sort of Brexit is looming – but this stalwart profession is rolling up its sleeves and getting on with it.

There’s been so much to champion in 2017, from big project wins (Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners landing the British Library Extension; BDP winning the Palace of Westminster refurbishment; David Adjaye, Ron Arad and Gustafson Porter + Bowman chosen to design the UK Holocaust Memorial) to more modest completed gems (Croft Lodge Studio by Kate Darby and David Connor, which won the AJ Small Projects award this year; Haddo Yard by Denizen Works [pictured]; Tonkin Liu’s Sun Rain Rooms).

Will Hurst’s achievement sums up the effort we put into breaking important news, day-in, day-out

There are many challenges in 2018 – from tackling the housing crisis and understanding the failings that led to the horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire, to pushing for greater diversity in the profession; from highlighting the value of architects in the building process and fighting marginalisation, to battling to maintain sensible fees. The AJ will be supporting all of these endeavours in the months to come – and celebrating the people and practices who make this profession so vibrant.

Underpinning it all will be our award-winning journalism. As I write this, Will Hurst has just won one of the most important prizes of his career – Infrastructure, Development and Construction Journalist of the Year at the hugely prestigious British Journalism Awards. He won for his painstaking investigation into the procurement of the Garden Bridge – and his achievement sums up the effort we put into breaking important news, day-in, day-out to keep you, our readers, informed.

As I write this, we are also sadly saying au revoir – but not adieu – to our wonderful columnist, the Emmy award-winning Ian Martin, who is taking a leave of absence from his brilliant column while a huge snowdrift of writing work occupies his attention. We will miss him!

In the meantime, we will continue to bring you the insight and intelligence to help you and your businesses thrive – helping to empower you to take the lead and add value in these changing times. Thank you, our wonderful subscribers, for your ongoing support. It is a privilege to serve you. Have a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and fulfilling New Year. 2018? Bring it on.

This article was published in the Year in review, Year ahead issue

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