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To tackle the climate emergency, the tax system in construction needs to change

Emily Booth
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The number of practices supporting our RetroFirst campaign – which calls for a cut to VAT on refurbishment – is growing daily, says Emily Booth

Happy New Year! Make that a happy new decade, even!

It certainly feels like a big one, not least because 2020 sees us celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of The Architects’ Journal. That’s a good chunk of time the AJ has been supporting, challenging and encouraging this wonderful profession – and we look forward to marking this exciting milestone with you through the next 12 months and celebrating all your new successes.

It certainly seems fitting to kickstart the new year with a focus on what makes practices tick: the energising business of working in practice itself.

Our architecture editor Rob Wilson has visited three innovative practices (HAT Projects, Moxon and Gort Scott) based around the UK, all of which have taken their future into their hands and designed their own studios. We’ve got three beautiful Jim Stephenson films about how these practices did it. 

Two of the projects are glorious retrofits – and I’m heartened by a compelling comment from Fiona Scott of Gort Scott Architects about the importance of retrofit: ‘Our ethos is to keep what you find if you can.’ Wise words. 

Indeed, if anything is certain over the next 12 months, it is that the climate emergency is focusing minds and that architecture can and must do its bit to cut carbon emissions in construction.

Retrofit is a big part of that. The number of practices supporting our RetroFirst campaign – which calls for a cut to VAT on refurbishment – is growing daily and we thank you for your ongoing support.

We’re driving this crucial campaign forward over the next few months and Isabella Kaminski’s investigation is an essential read on how and why VAT needs to change.

Often, the biggest barrier to positive change is changing mindsets. Here at the AJ we look forward to supporting you in your endeavours towards more sustainable design. We know it’s a learning journey. We’re on it with you.

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