Attention to fine detailing is evident in the South East regional awards, from private homes to the WWF headquarters and renovated Chichester Theatre, from a whole house recycling project to acoustic shells on the Littlehampton beach. Click on the images to find out more
Mike Lawless: I have lived and practised in the South East for nearly 30 years. Working from our rural studio within the Downs outside Lewes and Brighton, we established our practice 23 years ago. Although I have served as the RIBA regional chair and chair of RIBA Sussex, we have found that we have been far more successful in winning projects in London, West Wales, West Scotland, East Anglia, and most other parts of Britain.
In that time we have had only two major projects in the South East, and both were with the same client. It has left us a little bemused as to why. While we work outside the area, there seem to be a considerable number of practices outside that win substantial work here. Of the 16 shortlisted for RIBA Awards, 12 are by architects outside the South East and of the nine awards; only four are to South East based architects.
Does it mean that the region is just the back garden of London? In travel terms that makes sense. It takes under an hour to get from many parts of the South East to the capital, yet it can take three hours to cross the counties of Kent and Sussex. Is the region a black hole that sucks in the brightest lights or is it that local networks are important conduits for commissions?
This is a beautiful place to live and work with wide diversity and opportunities. It deserves great architecture. If that means welcoming good creative architects from across the UK to the South East, then that should be seen as a highly beneficial. The raising of architectural standards wherever or however it takes place should be welcomed and promoted.
Mike Lawless, LA Architects, Lewes