The influx of young professionals has brought with it a pulse of creative energy, says Norfolk’s Jenny Harvey

Norfolk is often thought of as a backwater, hard to get to and conservative in its approach due to a lack of cultural diversity. These outdated preconceptions – not helped by Alan Partridge! – are a far cry from the young, lively and creative Norfolk that is rapidly emerging.

The high cost of living in London, together with greater awareness of health and wellbeing, makes Norfolk a very appealing place to live and work for young professionals. In the 2011 census, the median age of people in Norwich was 34, with Cambridge even lower at 31. This influx of creative energy is driving strategies in arts and culture and challenging the way our industry positions itself with a desire to do things differently.

Norwich University of the Arts graduates are choosing to stay in Norwich. The school’s central location contributes to the artistic and political activism of the local community. The (not so) new architecture faculty, embedded within this well-established and reputable art school, has the potential to develop an exciting new breed of diverse practitioners with progressive ideas and knowledge of the local demographic.

Alternative practice approaches are starting to emerge in Norfolk, with much more collaborative thinking about designing the built environment. Recent projects in Great Yarmouth and Anglia Square in Norwich have grown out of community involvement. A collection of creative disciplines are working with community groups to make a change – facilitated by architects – and to create sensitive, appropriate and relevant proposals with real public value. We must not underestimate our ability as architects to bring people and processes together; it is something we are very good at and is important in breaking down the age-old communication problem between architect and public.

Eight of this year’s 12 shortlisted projects involve regional practices, a testament to the strength of local talent. Hopefully next year a Norfolk project will go further. 

Jenny Harvey is an architect at Hudson Architects


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Aura, Great Kneighton, Cambridge.
Aura, Great Kneighton, Cambridge.

TateHindle for Countryside Properties.

 

 

 

 

Bushey Cemetery, Hertfordshire.
Bushey Cemetery, Hertfordshire.

Waugh Thistleton Architects for The United Synagogue.

 

 

Five Acre Barn, near Aldeburgh.
Five Acre Barn, near Aldeburgh.

Blee Halligan for Five Acre Barn.

 

 

New Library, University of Bedfordshire.
New Library, University of Bedfordshire.

MCW Architects for University of Bedfordshire.

 

 

St Chad's, Tilbury.
St Chad's, Tilbury.

Bell Phillips Architects for Gloriana, Thurrock Council.

 

 

Stephen Perse Foundation New Sports and Learning Building, Cambridge.
Stephen Perse Foundation New Sports and Learning Building, Cambridge.

Chadwick Dryer Clarke Studio and LSI Architects for The Stephen Perse Foundation.

 

 

Storey's Field Community Centre and Nursery, Cambridge.
Storey's Field Community Centre and Nursery, Cambridge.

MUMA for the University of Cambridge.

 

 

The David Attenborough Building, Cambridge.
The David Attenborough Building, Cambridge.

Nicholas Hare Architects for University of Cambridge.

 

 

The Deerings, Harpenden.
The Deerings, Harpenden.

Gresford Architects with Nicolas Tye Architects for private client.

 

 

West Court Jesus College, Cambridge.
West Court Jesus College, Cambridge.

Niall McLaughlin Architects for Jesus College.

 

 

White Heather House, Southend-on-Sea.
White Heather House, Southend-on-Sea.

SKArchitects for HARP.


 

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