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The lives of others

It takes more than an architect to make architecture

Apart from a few resolute off-grid self-builders, it has never been customary for architects to make entire buildings solo, from first concept through to finished article. And even on the rare occasions that they do, they still have to negotiate with officialdom, which means getting along with two or more other professions.  What’s not in question is that the numbers of specialists and ‘experts’ in the building team today has ballooned, for any construction over a certain size. Many are necessary and desirable, some less so. I know of one sizeable retail development where every architect’s move was referred to a ‘shopping centre consultant’ earning big fees.  This man turned out to be a know-nothing former security guard working out of a back bedroom.  You had to admire his chutzpah – and wonder at how he got to be appointed.  Insert your own stories here.

But we’re not going to talk any more about people like that. We’re going to talk about the people who make your working lives better, the ones who help you achieve what you want to do and even take you to a higher level.  This is a no less familiar story:  a lot of professional life is about building up relationships with people you trust.  There are, of course, the famous double-acts of architects and engineers, architects and landscape designers, architects and artists, those with trusted builders, above all architects and clients. And Cedric Price used to speak very highly of his QS, because he was prepared to tackle the unfamiliar. 

It comes down to mutual respect and mutual understanding. It doesn’t always have to be a battle, this architecture business.