This House Believes that 'Contractors are the Architects of the Future'

Is Traditional, independent practice set to become a thing of the past?


The final debate of 2011 saw us back in the ‘Hub’ at BDP to debate the future of the construction industry. Peter and Chris – both architects heading up design departments in major contractors – had their work cut out with a hostile audience and strong opposition, but some really interesting and important issues emerged which stimulated a lively debate.

The construction industry is evolving very quickly. Changes to public procurement aimed at encouraging more integrated working across construction teams, the rise of BIM and the proliferation of narrow but expert specialists mean that architects will have to adapt and re-define their role and outlook. How is the architect’s position within the wider construction process set to evolve over the coming decades? And will the profession still be able to influence the production of buildings and spaces to the degree it does today? Is that even enough? Is there still a place for traditional small-scale architectural practices, or will ‘architecture’ merely become a department within large contractor consultancies, capable of orchestrating increasingly complex, global construction projects? This process is arguably well underway, with control over production of the built environment set to consolidate in these large, global, multidisciplinary organisations – what does this mean for the types of places and spaces we produce? Should the architectural profession be excited about opportunities to work more closely with other aspects of the wider construction industry, developing new and innovative models for ‘the design team’?, or should the profession be increasingly concerned at the potential for their skills and expertise to become marginalised in a powerful, global movement towards hyper-efficient, delivery orientated, mass-production of space?

Chair: Caroline Cole – Director of Colander & part of the project team for ‘The Future For Architects?’ report

Proposing the motion:

Peter Trebilcock – Director for Design @ Balfour Beatty Northern
Chris Boyce – Design Director @ Capita Symonds


Opposing the motion:

Jane Duncan – Director @ Jane Duncan Architects / RIBA Vice President, Practice & Profession
Paul Morrell – Chief Construction Advisor to HM Government


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Proposing the motion

Opposing the motion