RIBA Regional Awards 2014: South East
James Galpin, Tunbridge Wells: The South East has seen a healthy upturn in workload over the last two years. Due to our proximity to London, the effect of the Olympic Games and the creation of the various major new commercial developments in the capital have sent a ripple of workload – both workplace and retail – out towards the surrounding counties.
Demand for housing in the region is also higher than ever and the consequent upturn in house-building has given rise to Section 106 payments allocated to local authorities to provide additional school places. This is a welcome change for architects in the learning sector, who have suffered in recent years through the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme. The current focus within education is on the provision of primary places, and the long view is of course the next round of development which will need to cater for the same population growth at secondary level in a few years’ time.
Despite rising material costs of up to 10% per annum, contractors are returning keen prices for work which will suit their marketing purposes, and a new focus on amicable team-working and quality of product and service has been one positive outcome of the recession. Maintaining quality is a continual challenge in frugal times and a responsible choice of procurement is key to ensure that the focus on craftsmanship in both design and delivery is maintained. It is therefore even more commendable that this year’s RIBA Award entries reflect a consistent high quality of architecture – with enlightened, committed and passionate clients being supported and guided through the building process by innovative and visionary architects.
With a clearly visible commitment to design quality and a drive to find new ways to build sustainably and responsibly, there is a great deal of delight being created in the South East.
James Galpin is an architect with Hazle