Culture Minister slams bad design
20 June 2006
Speaking at the launch of a CABE publication, David Lammy identified a number of key design challenges, singling out housing as an area of concern.
"Architecture can play a transformational role in changing lives", Culture Minister, David Lammy, told an audience at the launch of CABE's new publication, The cost of bad design. He was speaking as part of a debate about what happens when design goes wrong - in housing, in public spaces and in streets.
In a passionate keynote address, the minister explained how he had personally experienced the oppressive effects of badly designed buildings, growing up on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham. He still winces at the poor buildings inherited by his constituents.
Buildings are a potent symbol of identity, both for the individual and for society. The quality of our public buildings reflects our social values, and indicates level of the respect that we give to the people who use them. Well designed places make people happier, and high quality design contribute to safer, more attractive neighbourhoods.
Mr. Lammy identified a number of key design challenges, singling out housing as an area of concern. He emphasised that the current vision for new houses in the UK is not ambitious enough, and that design quality needs to be at the heart of all new housing development. He also gave new retail buildings the full weight of his disapproval, naming and shaming a number of major out-of-town chains which he accused of building ugly, faceless boxes and failing to understand the surroundings in which they located their stores.
Earlier, an expert panel had debated their least favourite buildings, the causes of bad design, and the remedies that should be applied. David Adamson, Head of Smarter Construction at the Office of Government Commerce, was able to announce that the OGC had just agreed to a number of significant commitments for the procurement of public buildings. All significant government building project will be required to use the Design Quality Indicator tool and to conduct post-occupancy evaluations. Furthermore, the OGC will working with HM Treasury to produce a supplement to the Green Book, the guide to public procurement, that will establish the whole life value of a building as the basis for all future procurement decisions.