The Grenfell Tower tragedy was the single defining incident of the last quarter, prompting a period of soul-searching and analysis focusing on the built environment sector, but with ramifications spreading much deeper into society. How could this have happened? Exactly who is living in our tower blocks? And how can we stop anything similar from happening ever again? A full inquiry will go some way to answering some of these questions and more about housing policy, but others – such as cladding, compartmentation, access and pooling resources – were grappled with in two separate events covered in one article in this issue. The first was an all-party parliamentary group session at Westminster; the second an emergency meeting of NLA’s Sounding Board. One thing was clear – change needs to come.
Change is something that our New Londoner of the Year Sadie Morgan is getting used to, and possibly even delights in. dRMM joint founder Morgan has been named alongside NLA chairman Peter Murray and others as one of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Design Advocates, and is pushing design principles far and wide in government, cramming in her work on HS2 and the Growth Commission, and living life to the full. She is profiled in these pages, and is joined by other interviewees including Arup’s Isabel Dedring, championing transport initiatives worldwide, and Hugh Seaborn, leading a quiet placemaking revolution at the Top of their Game outfit this time – the Cadogan Estate. Change is also the watchword of Fred Pilbrow. Having left KPF to set up PLP he took another gamble to set up his eponymous practice four years ago. Now up to 50 staff, he looks back over the trials and tribulations of setting up, winning work and establishing a new name in the design arena in our Practice Profile.
Our Building Review this quarter is the Bartlett, which is itself looking to change and adapt to the future and its property needs, particularly with an outpost at Here East. The review looks at HawkinsBrown’s designs in reworking the Bartlett’s 22 Gordon Street to transform the student and staff experience. And finally, Squire and Partners is embracing change with its move from King’s Cross to Brixton. Michael Squire pens a piece this time about how the practice is creating a new kind of office space and future-proofing itself in the process.
Enjoy the issue.
David Taylor, Editor