More and more of our time is spent in search for work. In the spirit of fairness, a plethora of official procurement routes have been established for public works, demanding both thought and time to present a reasonable case for selection. Rippling now into every facet of public and private sector design team procurement, we have had to become conjurors of words and display boundless energy in making each case.
It was this energy that was the focus of the annual review of our 'Creative Workspace' team.
The role of a practising architect should not be perfunctory, with a standardised output from over simplified processes. Rather our role should be to conceive imaginative future environments, optimising each setting in relationship to needs and statutory requirements. In that role we become practised in the art of flexible and fluid thinking, with built outcomes that we hope surprise and inspire.
Bidding for work becomes a natural extension of that flexibility, our training on the job giving us a good launch pad to speculate about new possibilities. There are of course subtle differences between the thinking on a live project and one you are bidding for - and that is ownership of ideas. In the former you are able to engage with real need, in the latter you are using your flexible thinking to speculate potential outcomes before engagement with the users.
That is where ‘energy’ comes into play in the transformation of an everyday, professional and creative dialogue, into a self-motivated and determined experimental series of ‘what if’ questions, with outcomes you hope might be adopted. Of course it is reciprocal, the more energy we can muster in these experimental initiative projects the more it refreshes what we do on our confirmed commissions.
We were reminded of some successes. Our Bluebell View student residences for University of Warwick has had the accolade of a plan drawing being incorporated in the fourth edition of the Metric Handbook – an exploration of how to create a dense student setting around a common core, yet opening out into its landscape.
At St. Mary’s Medical Centre in Edinburgh, a hunch that the existing landscape and context could shape the aesthetic of the medical centre experience for patients and staff, has been rewarded with an imminent site start. This unique facility is conceived as a room in the garden of a village of buildings.
A year spent conceptualising the form of a 'civic' office block in the city for Scottish Power has enabled us to explore structural and service expression supporting an office floorplate free of columns and service risers, surmounting a ground floor loggia to the surrounding pavements.
Each project started out as an ‘energetic’ non-standard response to outline client briefs. Before being selected through the competitive process and adopted as ways forward, they were hunches, thoughts and imaginings that through the energy of colleagues are now becoming real.