I don't like the finality of the term, "Brexit", or how it seems to be playing out right now, both socially and politically. Within the basic world of business, connections and relationships sit as the primary foundation, and therefore national borders work in opposition to this platform. I hope that as Britain withdraws from its association with the European Parliament (which is possibly all that the referendum actually proposed), that our connectedness and hospitality transcends other predominantly self-centred responses or craving.
The decision to leave was undoubtedly in part to do with a strong sense of inequality, an imbalance of the purpose and opportunities felt in some parts of the country compared with those in others. This brings to question the idea of the “commonwealth”, and while I don’t believe that Britain is at the centre of a continuing or imagined empire, the principles of the Commonwealth for general international welfare are worth considering. As a concept it seems lost within the UK yet it remains fairly strong internationally.
This principle of the Commonwealth can be instilled within the UK, with regional cities working together to form united businesses, communities and networksThe Commonwealth Association of Architects recently recognised Grimshaw for our work in Australia, exporting our transport expertise to deliver major infrastructure projects that are shaping the way people move through major cities on the East Coast. By moving staff between our offices in London and Australia we become an agile practice, transferring knowledge and experience between very different locations and we all benefit as a result.
This principle of the Commonwealth can be instilled within the UK, with regional cities working together to form united businesses, communities and networks; rich in purpose, identity and self-actualisation. New hubs will emerge once they adapt and consider the relationship with their own localised economies.
The relationship between British cities and London must change, and beyond this, the relationship between British cities and international markets will have a unique opportunity to strengthen. Land costs and well-being within our Capital continue to become more of a struggle for an increasing number of people. The idea of thriving regional cities, working internationally, may emerge with enough strength to entice more architects and designers to migrate to regional hubs.
Maybe our exit from the EU asks us to migrate away from this idea of working in concentrated and aloof clustersIf we consider the London of the future as primarily a portal to the world, a true international trading city and a place to broker deals, other UK hubs will have the opportunity to flourish with a strong connection to global markets beyond our nearest European one. For all of the rhetoric about what leaving the European Union means, it might be healthy in all of this to speculate about how architecture and other design services might evolve.
Near our offices in Clerkenwell there appears to be more architects per acre than anywhere else on earth; a frightening construct if ever there was one! Maybe our exit from the EU asks us to migrate away from this idea of working in concentrated and aloof clusters, cushioned by those we understand and agree with, and forces us to put strong attractors around the island to service the important work of the nation and the wonderful international opportunities that come to these shores.
We are fortunate here in London that international ideas coarse through our everyday lives to inspire and challenge our attitudes to pressing issues around property ownership, urban Regional cities could be the new centres for implementing radical ideas, uninhibited by the financial pressures of operating from central London.densities and communal societies. The consequence of this is resoundingly positive. Leaving the European Union might propel our strong regional cities themselves to have a stronger international debate as well as a forum from within. The potential is inspiring. Regional cities could be the new centres for implementing radical ideas, uninhibited by the financial pressures of operating from central London.
Investment in high-profile, large-scale infrastructure like High Speed 2 and Heathrow is a step towards a more connected UK both within and globally. These projects should be embraced as essential components of a specialist resource network and part of the fuel for the exchange of ideas. Practices already strong throughout Britain, might take steps to focus themselves to export their ideas and projects internationally. For us in London, we should ready ourselves for the best creative ideas coming from elsewhere, and perhaps it’s worth thinking about what we are offering, and how we can work towards the ‘common wealth’ of the whole country.