Architects are playing their part in helping the country in its hour of need. Building Design’s Proud to Help campaign places your efforts at the centre of our coverage
Today Building Design is launching a new campaign, “Proud to Help: Designing the road to recovery”, to highlight the work architects and their colleagues across the built environment are doing to support the country both in this time of crisis and as we seek to build a better and more equitable future.
Under this campaign banner, and in partnership with our sister magazines Building and Housing Today, we want to champion the profession’s innovations and highlight positive stories involving individuals, practices and communities. We know that times are extremely tough, that all of us are under intense pressure and that some will be coping with devastating personal and professional losses. But we also know that when everything appears bleak, stories of hope can help us to carry on.
This profession is at its best when challenged to find solutions to difficult problems – and that is what is needed most of all right now
This profession is at its best when challenged to find solutions to difficult problems – and that is what is needed most of all right now. So Building Design wants to stand up and say we are proud of your achievements, just as you should be proud to be helping the UK get back on its feet, whether it is designing emergency hospitals and 3D-printing PPE for NHS staff or thinking imaginatively about what our built environment might look like in the future.
These past four weeks or so have highlighted how vital construction work is, not just to keeping the economy ticking over during this extraordinary shutdown but also to the health of the nation. The Nightingale hospitals are the obvious example: completed in record time and to exacting clinical standards, the very thought of delivering such facilities – and at such a speed – would have been inconceivable just a few months ago.
London’s temporary NHS Nightingale hospital at the ExCeL centre, which opened at the start of the month, was built in just 10 days – at peak the site had 500 workers on it.
Our interview with BDP engineer James Hepburn, who led the design work, provided a moving personal account of the pressures on the job as well as the great team spirit from all the professionals and trades involved. The fact that Hepburn became ill with the virus himself and that his anaesthetist wife intends to volunteer to work at the hospital also brings home the sacrifices people are making every day.
Getting Britain building again will be one of the ways Boris Johnson’s administration starts us on the path to economic recovery
It was also striking that Hepburn was at pains to list as many as possible of the companies involved. He is right, of course: all of those involved deserve massive credit for their hard work.
There are many more practices and individuals doing their bit – such as those operating the fleet of 3D printers rigged up in bedrooms to supply the NHS with protective equipment staff so desperately need, and the innovative design ideas you are sharing freely. We want to hear your stories, so get in touch.
We also want to hear your views during this campaign about what the industry needs to fulfil its important role in society. What will it take to enable practices to recover once restrictions start to ease? How will the sector avoid bitter legal wrangles and potential insolvencies and instead build up its resilience? Can you make the “new normal” better than what we had before, and can you find opportunities to bring about changes that have been long overdue? Your creative thinking will be essential for helping society imagine how we can rebuild a world that is fairer and more sustainable for all. Already our columnists are leading the charge. Do you want to add your voice?
It would seem architects are at once facing a terribly precarious future while also potentially holding a strong position in an industry of strategic importance for the economy. British architecture is admired and exported around the world. The sector generated £6.7bn a year to the UK economy before the crisis.
In short, the construction industry and its skilled designers will be one of the ways Boris Johnson’s administration moves an economy that is set to shrink at an alarming rate to one that begins to grow again.
Government needs construction just as construction needs government – this pandemic reveals more than ever this interdependence. And our Proud to Help campaign hopes to shed light on what both need on the road to recovery.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Proud to Help’ or via Building Design’s LinkedIn or Twitter with your #ProudtoHelp stories