At one of our recent project workshops we were asked by our client “What does ambition look like?" We found that to be a surprising and somewhat unusual question. We are well used to describing what our buildings look like, how that new architecture might contribute to making new settings for public life, in short describing a vision of what the future fabric might be and how it might work.
What ambition looked like seemed to us to be a question before the question of vision. It captured something deeper; it appeared more rooted in an understanding of a client’s values and high level strategic thinking, and a desire for us to then express how that could manifest itself in built form and space.
We have to be careful though, ambition can be a two edged sword. One persons ambition might be another's irritation. As in all aspects of what we do there needs to be a balance.
So what qualities might shape that ‘ambitional’ balance?
Accessibility is without exception an overriding concern across our projects. A new openness has become a culture accepted across the board, whether in the simple planning of internal organisational relationships, through to the act of public welcome incumbent now on almost any architecture.
Adaptability is another. Whilst the idea of predicting the future uses of our buildings has always been a priority, the consideration of an architecture that anticipates how how we might want to work in the future in the spirit of accessibility, provokes the question of how can we make a fixed building and urban framework respond to future needs.
And then there is representation. How might the building form reflect these twin ambitions of accessibility and flexibility yet at the same time contribute to a sense of place and associated wellbeing and welcome.
So whilst we are maybe not able to say what ambition would look like, we can say what it might be made of – accessiblity, adaptability and a form that reflects these building blocks.