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The Value of Architecture Centres

Sir Stuart Lipton
17 June 2002

Sir Stuart Lipton, CABE chair (1999 - 2004), talks about how the quality of the built environment directly impacts on quality of life.

As Chairman of CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, I am pleased to both sponsor and open this unique event.

CABE strives to act as the nation's champion for better buildings and places. We believe that decent, well designed homes, work-places, schools and hospitals are the fundamental right of everyone.

We are working hard, and I might add with some success, to persuade government and public sector bodies that good quality design is essential and not a costly luxury.

I am pleased to see Ken Livingstone welcome everybody to the conference and London.

Elected mayors have a crucial role to play in ensuring our major cities are dynamic and sustainable.

We don't have to look far for examples of successful mayor led citywide regeneration: Copenhagen, Bilbao, Barcelona, to name but a few.

In all these cities design has played a key role in stimulating investment and civic pride.

This must be the case in London too, and indeed in all our English cities that now have elected mayors - Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Doncaster. In this conference we have the opportunity to be inspired by our overseas colleagues.

The quality of the built environment impacts directly on residents' quality of life, whether they are aware of it or not. CABE has recently undertaken a survey of public perceptions with MORI where an overwhelming 81% of people said they were interested in how the built environment looks and feels.

Ensuring citizens are aware of the need for and benefits of good quality design will allow them to take ownership of both individual projects and the city as a whole.

The growing number of Architecture Centres within the UK have a key role to play in making this happen - involving people from diverse backgrounds in issues that affect the environment in which they live, work and play. I am pleased to see that the UK Architecture Centre Network will be launched later today by Baroness Blackstone.

To demonstrate our commitment CABE has awarded nearly one million pounds of funding over the next two years towards a number of centres.

But to ensure success we need political and financial support from those charged with governing our cities.

Copenhagen, Paris and Berlin all have dedicated centres that serves to both raise awareness and influence government policy.

If change is going to happen anywhere it'll happen first in a country's capital.

London should be leading the way, so come on Ken lets have some action to match the words. A real Architecture Centre for London, sponsored by the GLA or LDA.

It's not all down to the politicians though.

You are drawn from the fields of architecture, planning, regeneration, education, tourism and development; you make up much of the value that contributes to successful Architecture Centres.

The programme of speakers over the next few days is unique in terms of its accumulated international experience.

I would encourage you to use the people who are here, whether on the podium or in the audience, to take advantage of this opportunity to challenge, provoke, stimulate and inspire.