Tarek Merlin is director and co-founder of Feix&Merlin
Yes! Very positive and interesting move by Southwark, which is very much welcomed. Hopefully this won't the be only one of its kind and will help shape the more progressive direction of procurement in years to come.
We are absolutely delighted about this. Following on from an article Tarek wrote earlier in the year, (here in the AJ) about how public procurement can exclude many small practice architects, we have been quietly lobbying and meeting and workshopping with some key players behind the scenes to encourage this kind of progressive approach to public procurement.
We co-hosted a roundtable discussion at MIPIM with RIBA, and then a very positive workshop held with Future of London in the summer, bringing together local authorities and small practices. And most recently we met with the GLA to discuss ways in which we might be able to bring our thoughts together, capitalising on the great work they are already doing with small sites programme.
Southwark held a briefing day a few weeks ago on this very framework which we attended, and along with many other voices in the room, were able to give very frank, detailed, and real world feedback which has thankfully made its way into the final version of this framework, so credit to Southwark and all involved for listening and responding so positively.
And to echo Leo's words, and many others recently, there couldn’t be a better time for this off the back of Goldsmith Street’s RIBA Stirling Prize win in Norwich, which couldn’t be a better demonstration of good procurement and the best possible outcome. Just goes to show councils can procure from smaller design-focused architects, create beautiful housing and not break the bank.