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David Chipperfield says signature buildings are taking precedence over the development of cities
POSTED 26 Jul 2017 . BY Kim Megson
Can our cities find a balance between the energy and the gift that investment gives and the independent qualities that the city and its citizens enjoy?
– David Chipperfield
There is a “danger” that architects are being swayed to work on signature buildings at the expense of the coherent development of cities, according to David Chipperfield.

In an exclusive interview, published in the new issue of CLADmag, the British architect said that, particularly in the UK, planning was “being overtaken by investment”.

“In London I think there is planning permission for a further 200 towers right now, and more in the pipeline. Those are money packets; it’s not about building a city,” he said.

“Each investor will try their hardest to make a good building. They’ll say ‘we have a good architect, we’re spending a lot of money, we’re trying to do it right’. I think they’re being genuine about that, and investors in Britain now are a million times better than they were 20 years ago. However, they’re still working on projects one by one that don’t necessarily add up to anything.”

In contrast, Chipperfield argued that in continental Europe the state and private sector worked more in harmony on developing projects.

He said: “In Europe, the bigger vision would come from the city itself. The private sector and public sector work together. You get buy-in from the community; you get buy in from the planners. In the UK, there’s no proactive engagement in the planning process.

“[In the UK] we call our planners ‘development control officers’. The attitude is like when you have mice in your house and you need ‘pest control’, to hold things back. It’s a very clear demonstration of the move from a pro-active idea into a reactive one. Planning departments are underfunded and overwhelmed.”

Despite the pressure to create buildings that are “photogenic” and that will “look good in magazines”, Chipperfield said that he has become increasingly more interested in the societal issues of architecture.

“We want to create buildings with a certain architectural integrity, and we want to give those buildings meaning by being purposeful,” he said.

He argued that it's particularly crucial that public spaces and public realm are well designed, “because they represent the things that connect us.”

“Contemporary society tends to celebrate and exaggerate individualism, but we are resilient creatures that want to gather together,” he said. “Why do we go to restaurants and pay a fortune for something that we could have cooked at home, to sit in a room with 50 other people we never speak to? It’s our desire to be part of something bigger; to be part of society.

“Our cities used to be very representative of those ambitions. But gradually territory is being privatised. We’re less and less able to give a form to those ambitions, and – particularly in the UK – we rely increasingly on the private sector to make gestures towards the public. In the Germanic world, I feel that there’s a strong public voice. There are still planners with this philosophy and the state still has a voice. In Britain, there’s no coordinated public voice.”

The full interview with David Chipperfield can be read online, and on digital turning pages.

The new issue of CLADmag also features interviews with architects Thom Mayne and Joshua Prince-Ramus, and designers Yabu Pushelberg and Patricia Urquiola.
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NEWS
David Chipperfield says signature buildings are taking precedence over the development of cities
POSTED 26 Jul 2017 . BY Kim Megson
Can our cities find a balance between the energy and the gift that investment gives and the independent qualities that the city and its citizens enjoy?
– David Chipperfield
There is a “danger” that architects are being swayed to work on signature buildings at the expense of the coherent development of cities, according to David Chipperfield.

In an exclusive interview, published in the new issue of CLADmag, the British architect said that, particularly in the UK, planning was “being overtaken by investment”.

“In London I think there is planning permission for a further 200 towers right now, and more in the pipeline. Those are money packets; it’s not about building a city,” he said.

“Each investor will try their hardest to make a good building. They’ll say ‘we have a good architect, we’re spending a lot of money, we’re trying to do it right’. I think they’re being genuine about that, and investors in Britain now are a million times better than they were 20 years ago. However, they’re still working on projects one by one that don’t necessarily add up to anything.”

In contrast, Chipperfield argued that in continental Europe the state and private sector worked more in harmony on developing projects.

He said: “In Europe, the bigger vision would come from the city itself. The private sector and public sector work together. You get buy-in from the community; you get buy in from the planners. In the UK, there’s no proactive engagement in the planning process.

“[In the UK] we call our planners ‘development control officers’. The attitude is like when you have mice in your house and you need ‘pest control’, to hold things back. It’s a very clear demonstration of the move from a pro-active idea into a reactive one. Planning departments are underfunded and overwhelmed.”

Despite the pressure to create buildings that are “photogenic” and that will “look good in magazines”, Chipperfield said that he has become increasingly more interested in the societal issues of architecture.

“We want to create buildings with a certain architectural integrity, and we want to give those buildings meaning by being purposeful,” he said.

He argued that it's particularly crucial that public spaces and public realm are well designed, “because they represent the things that connect us.”

“Contemporary society tends to celebrate and exaggerate individualism, but we are resilient creatures that want to gather together,” he said. “Why do we go to restaurants and pay a fortune for something that we could have cooked at home, to sit in a room with 50 other people we never speak to? It’s our desire to be part of something bigger; to be part of society.

“Our cities used to be very representative of those ambitions. But gradually territory is being privatised. We’re less and less able to give a form to those ambitions, and – particularly in the UK – we rely increasingly on the private sector to make gestures towards the public. In the Germanic world, I feel that there’s a strong public voice. There are still planners with this philosophy and the state still has a voice. In Britain, there’s no coordinated public voice.”

The full interview with David Chipperfield can be read online, and on digital turning pages.

The new issue of CLADmag also features interviews with architects Thom Mayne and Joshua Prince-Ramus, and designers Yabu Pushelberg and Patricia Urquiola.
RELATED STORIES
David Chipperfield: 'Brexit one of the worst decisions ever made'


Britain’s vote to pull out of the European Union has been branded “stupid” and “one of the worst decisions ever made” by renowned architect David Chipperfield.
Chipperfield triumphs in competition to design 'world class' Edinburgh concert hall


David Chipperfield has overcome stiff competition to win the high-profile design competition to create a 1,000-capacity concert hall in Edinburgh.
David Chipperfield Architects revive plans to expand historic Russian opera house


David Chipperfield Architects have been invited to develop design proposals for an extension to Russia’s historic Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre, seven years after they won an international competition to refurbish and extend the building.
MORE NEWS
Dialog-designed Zeidler Dome and S.P.A.C.E. Gallery open
Canadian science museum Telus World of Science, based in the city of Edmonton, has announced that two new spaces designed by Canadian architectural practice Dialog have opened.
Universal Studios set for the ‘Return of Michael Myers’
A raft of new, “terrifying” mazes will open at Universal Studios as part of the attraction’s Halloween Horror Nights event.
Crocodile Dundee’s fictional sequel significantly boosts Australian tourism
Tourist spending in Australia has grown by a huge AU $5.8bn (US$4.2bn, €3.7bn, £3.3bn), or 6 per cent for the year to March, according to latest figures.
US National Museum of Natural History’s Fossil Hall set for reopening
Kirk Johnson, museum director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, has announced its David H. Koch Hall of Fossils will reopen on 8 June 2019.
+ More news   
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Membership & Visitor Welcome Manager
National Trust
Salary: £23,375 pa
Job location: Cambridge, UK
Estate Food and Beverage Manager
jdr Hospitality Recruitment
Salary: From £60,000 to £65,000 per annum plus package
Job location: Somerset, UK
Business Manager
National Heritage Centre
Salary: Up to £55,000 (depending on experience) + pension
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The Bear Grylls Adventure
Salary: Competitive
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Salary: £25,000 plus additional sales
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