‘Architects sleepwalking into irrelevance’ Sadie Morgan at AJ100
Photograph © The Architects' Journal

‘Architects sleepwalking into irrelevance’ Sadie Morgan at AJ100

‘Architects sleepwalking into irrelevance’ Sadie Morgan at AJ100
Photograph © The Architects' Journal

dRMM director Sadie Morgan tells AJ100 audience to seize ‘infrastructure initiative’ and get more involved in UK infrastructure schemes.

Speaking to a packed AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridge’s in Mayfair, Morgan issued a plea for the profession to take a more ‘propositional’ approach and demonstrate their problem-solving skills. ‘I don’t really know what we’re doing as an industry’, the Stirling prize winner said. ‘I think we’re sleepwalking into a place where we’re not going to be relevant anymore unless we can affect our built environment.’

Among her various government advisory roles, Morgan chairs the independent design panel for the £42bn High Speed 2 railway line. She said one of its biggest successes had been to encourage the company to employ architects who would provide specimen designs to benchmark against and act as a model for contractors.

The panel has also changed procurement documents to give more generous weighting to design, sending a ’strong message to the building industry’.

The design panel is made up of 50 people from different disciplines, and acts as a ‘critical friend’, explained Morgan, who argued that a non-confrontational approach was more effective.

‘It’s no good just sitting there and saying you can do it better, because the shutters will just go down and no one will listen,’ she said. ‘It’s not that we roll over but we’re criticial in a supportive way.’

Morgan also spoke of the need for design leadership on national infrastructure projects.

‘Why shouldn’t we expect our bridges, roads, viaducts, flood defences to have the same level of design thinking? To be beautiful as well as functional?’ she asked the audience, adding: ‘We can do it. We have the skills, we have the capability, we have the brilliance and the imagination – we just do it everywhere else [outside the UK].’

She added that through the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), which Morgan also sits on, there is the opportunity to widen the debate and ‘convince those who would not generally prioritise design thinking to do so’.

Read the full article here.
By Ella Jessel of The Architects’ Journal