Libya trip yields chance for UK firm
GMW Architects has been asked to write proposal for private refurbishment project
The only British architect on the first construction trade mission to Libya since the war has brought home a potential commission.
Lyn Edwards, senior partner at GMW Architects, flew back from Tripoli this week after a four-day trade mission led by private trade organisation British Expertise in collaboration with the UKTI.
Western architects are itching to get back into the country but have been warned that the interim government does not have the power or money to sign fresh contracts.
However, Edwards, the only architect on the first construction-sector trip, approached a private client at a reception and was asked to write a proposal for a modest refurbishment.
“It’s peanuts but I certainly didn’t expect that on a scoping mission,” said Edwards. “The whole trip was very worthwhile.”
The 10 delegates, including people from Capita Symonds and Mott Macdonald, met contacts from ministries covering transport, infrastructure and construction.
Dominic James, the British Expertise director who led the trip, called Libya a land of opportunity.
But he added: “It’s going to be a hard market for the foreseeable future and especially until after the elections.”
The delegates were told that future work would cover housing, education, health, transport, offices, retail and hospitality. Existing projects such as a string of new airports, city masterplans and universities could all go ahead but might be renegotiated.
I certainly didn’t expect that on a scoping mission. The whole trip was very worthwhile
Edwards said: “There clearly will be a lot of work emerging from Libya but it could be a couple of years or more before things are back to normal. I went to find out what organisations are commissioning architects and what sort of projects might be required.”
GMW has several years’ experience in Libya, though the closest it got to a completion was an extension for the British Embassy. The Foreign Office was assessing the tenders when war broke out and the embassy was stormed.