A singular vision?

By Guy Nevill

19 February 2014

It's one of those words we see as positive, almost by default. Collaboration. Sometimes it comes out of our mouths unthinkingly. In the second of the AJ Max Fordham Round Table series, we gathered a group of architects, some established and some emerging, to discuss the merits of collaboration against those of a singular architectural vision. 
Also in our midst was Hanif Kara, a structural engineer and founding partner of AKTII. His was a more critical view. He admitted that 'collaboration' is not a word he likes, and, about halfway through discussions he said if architects are prepared to 'give away the gift of architecture' then they are 'losing the plot'. It certainly made me think about a bit more closely about my use of the word. 
In his view, design teams are better served by experts in their field reacting to each other, but with someone providing direction, or 'holding the pencil' as he put it. Piers Taylor from InvisibleStudio concurred with Henry Luker from Max Fordham, that architecture is the result of a singular vision, and the architect has to take the lead. When Piers said, particularly in relation to the Pompidou Centre, that most architecture was result of the vision of one person, Clare Wright from Wright & Wright replied with indignation. 'I don't agree at all! I absolutely, fundamentally and utterly disagree with you!' The cat was firmly among the pigeons!
From my point of view, I think the ultimate lesson is that we get a better result when we engage with the process. When we engage in conversations. I invite you to watch our short film from the Round Table here, or read the article and transcript here
If you work in design teams, read it. If you work with consultants and contractors, read it. If you work with architects, read it. If you are a client and you want a better building; especially if you are a client and you want a better building, read it. The one thing everyone agreed on is an active client, engaged with their architect and design team, makes for a better result. 
Guy Nevill is a Senior Partner 


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