Why Architects and Planners Need to Become Better Politicians

Well designed environments assist our economy, wellbeing and happiness, says Sarah Wigglesworth. Yet money equals power in controlling the shape of built environment. She asserts that designers must act as leaders rather than slaves to their clients.

"Design of the built environment is now a highly complex and contested arena. With no financial muscle, architects are small and insignificant players in this game. And despite its self-image of avant-garde creativity, the truth is that the production of architecture remains a game of patronage, one in which architects cultivate those with financial power in return for the favour of a job."

"So while architects usually do act as followers, concerned with our own interests by mirroring those of our clients, we really need to step out as leaders," Wigglesworth urges, "setting the agenda and arguing for why the quality of the built environment matters."

"Space must be reclaimed by all of us, and a good citizen architect should defend the rights of all of us to high-quality places, as we defend freedom of access, movement and activity," she continues. "We need to lead the resistance against the privatisation of public space, the poorly planned, the cheap and the undersized: all ways in which we are constantly told we need to design."

Full Story: Power to the architects

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