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Making a Landmark?

I read a post recently made by a director of a large consulting Engineering practice commenting on the shortlist for the proposed Curzon Street Station questioning whether the project should be a “Landmark” or just a “Functional” facility and couldn’t believe that a professional supporting the construction industry as a design creative could even contemplate such a question.

We’ve all seen the “Landmark” aspiration stated in clients requirements only to have the accountancy/Project Manager/QS/Risk advisor on the client side question the affordability of a design but as students we are all taught that the role of a designer is to evaluate a brief, provide a facility that matches the brief and to then enhance value and make the most of a budget.

There is not a single project that does not have function or budget as a major constraint so to deliberately start a project with the notion that these override all other considerations is to subvert the role of design to that of wallpaper selection or joining dots; a functional object is centred entirely on its own needs so old ideas get rehashed for the sake of expediency and innovation takes a back seat as value engineering takes over.

A function first approach ignores the symbolism associated with major infrastructure projects and while design as a symbolic act may not be high on many client’s requirements, our built environment affects every aspect of the way we think, work and approach life: we get the environment we deserve and we  deserve more than just a decorated shed. Our cities and the culture that arises from using our cities is not the result of man’s dive to the bottom but the drive to do something better and to leave a legacy for our children.

I’ve heard it said that football is the most important of unimportant things: I would like design and designers to be seen as one of the most important of important things.  Any creative that thinks that function trumps the future should stand aside and leave the role to others particularly when playing with £570m of hard-earned money; you’re not trying hard enough.

Feeling proud to live in Bristol! 

when the normal democratic routes fail ,there comes a time when you just have to do what's right: This was a long time coming. 



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