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Architeam || Promoting Architecture

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Peter Murray on Promoting Architecture

Interview Date: 23-03-2011
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VIEW the entire interview on VIDEO!

:: You are the Chairman of ‘New London Architecture’. The NLA program of exhibitions, events and publications bring together the leading professionals in the public and private sector to share knowledge and identify opportunities throughout the year. 

What exactly is the mission of Centre for London’s built environment and what kind of services and actions does it make?

We are a public space here where everyone is welcome from tourists who come to look at the model through to planners, professionals and politicians where we have a series of seminars and debates and discussions about what is happening in London.
So, we see our role here as being a key focus for the whole debate about what is happening in London in terms of planning, development and architecture and where members of the general public, of the community can come and find out what’s happening, they can get information here but also they can take part in the debate of how London should develop over the next twenty to fifty years.

The Pipers Central London model forms the centerpiece of the NLA galleries and is built to a scale of 1:1500. How important is the aerial view of a city?

London is very different to many European cities because it’s relatively unplanned. It doesn’t have the ground, formal streets of Berlin or Paris or Rome.  The reason for that is that London has evolved over a period of time where various villages around the central London area have grown until they formed a single metropolis.

That means that there is no grand planning but it is grown on a much more pragmatic basis. That very much creates the character of London and the model is very helpful to give a feeling of what that is like as a city, it helps people get their bearings as to where the various, new developments are, it also gives a you a picture of where things are happening within the city, where it becomes more dense and gives you an idea of the close grain of the central area.

How would you characterize contemporary architecture in London and UK nowadays?

Partly in relationship to the lack of planning in London, London has always been a city which has been driven by commerce and the needs of commerce. It’s a trading city and the architecture today really reflects that. Everything operates in relationship within the public and private sector which develops land and provides solutions which are reflect the businesses and the scale of businesses that is going on there.

So, you can see on the model the differences between the central CBD area of the city of London which was first developed when the Romans came here two thousand years ago, but it is still organized on a medieval street plan, because it has never been re-planned; since the great far of London it didn’t change to a more European style of planning.

There is a medieval street plan which houses one of the world’s financial centers. You compare that to something like Canary Wharf which is a much newer development, designed on a rectangular grid in the way of a lot of American cities and that has a very different style in form of architecture, the one that responds to the needs of the global financial trading companies.

Does Architecture as a profession need empowerment? In which ways should this be done?

Architecture definitely needs empowerment. Architects over the last twenty or thirty years have been pushed to the fringes of the decision making in the environment and they should become more focused in having an influence. There are two areas where they need to do that; one is that they should become much more involved in the political debate which they frequently don’t and the other one is that they should become more powerful within the building team.

Every major project is carried out by a wide range of other professionals and in recent years project managers and engineers and cost consultants have become almost more important than architects. That balance needs to be redressed and architects must join with the building team but increase their power within it.

Is the world financial crisis an opportunity for everyone to reconsider the ways that we design and construct the buildings and the urban environment?

Yes. Very much so, because we’ve had a period in Britain fifteen years of major growth where to certain extend architects have been like children in a candy store. They’ve been able to pick up each delightful idea they wanted to without really having to worry about the wider social consequences.

Now, a period of retracement, as we seeing at the moment, does mean that architects have to think much more closely about the way they use resources, the way they deliver public sects of projects, the way they deliver buildings for society generally and how they relate to the community.

At the same time, the community is becoming much more conscious of what it wants from architects, what it wants from those people who deliver things for the environment. Those two together hopefully will lead to a better quality of architecture and building than we’ve had in recent years.

 



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Peter Murray

Peter Murray

architect
Country: United Kingdom
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Bio

Peter Murray trained as an architect but has spent most of his career in communicating architecture to a wider public.

He was formerly Technical Editor of Architectural Design, Editor of Building Design and of the RIBA Journal.  In 1983 he co-founded Blueprint Magazine.

He is currently Chairman of Wordsearch – a global marketing and branding company specialising in architecture and the built environment, he is Founder Chairman of the New London architecture centre, Founder Director of the London Festival of Architecture and a visiting professor at the IE University in Madrid.

He is author of several books including Architecture and Commerce, The Saga of Sydney Opera House and Understanding Plans.

He has curated many architecture exhibitions including  New Architecture, the work of Foster Rogers Stirling and Living Bridges at the Royal Academy.

:: Photo information and credits:

1 > As an opening event of the London Architectural Biennale, a flock of sheep was driven from Southwark to Smithfield Market, where a revival of the traditional St Bartholomew’s Fair was taking place. London 17 June 2006
photo courtecy
© Peter Murray

2 > Peter Murray started the annual Cycle to Cannes bike ride in 2005  for architects and developers going to the MIPIM property fair. So far it has raised £1million for charity
photo courtecy
© Peter Murray

3 > The Pipers Model  of Central London at New London Architecture – the centre that Murray started at the Building Centre in 2005
photo courtecy © Peter Murray

4 > A drawing by Peter Murray of street movements in the Fitzrovia area of London which formed part of an exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery and a campaign against one way streets in the city. One way streets are designed to help cars go faster and are therefore antithetical to a city which encourages walking and cycling.
photo courtecy © Peter Murray

5 > Drawing by Peter Murray of the LFA 2010
photo courtecy © Peter Murray

6 > 50 Years of London Architecture exhibition at the Mall Galleries organised by Peter Murray for The Architecture Club
photo courtecy © Peter Murray

7 > Pop up Park in Store Street, London WC1 – part of the London Festival of Architecture 2010
photo courtecy © LFA

8 > Pop up Park and structure designed by Price and Myers
photo courtecy © Peter Murray

09 > The first London Festival of Architecture in 2004
photo courtecy © LFA

10 > London Festival of Architecture 2004 – a street is turned into a park
photo courtecy © LFA

11 > Living Bridges Royal Academy 1996
photo courtecy © Alan Williams

12 > Blueprint magazine
photo courtecy © Peter Murray