After a year of gathering evidence and consultation, Sir Terry Farrell's review of UK architecture has finally been released. The review, commissioned by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, includes 60 proposals to improve the quality of the UK's built environment, targeting a wide range of groups including education, planning, government and developers.
Vaizey has urged everyone involved in the construction industry to get behind the report, saying that it "needs to kick-start a national debate" in order to achieve its aims.
Read on for some of the recommendations from the report
Perhaps the most significant change recommended in the report is a shift from the UK's current, reactive planning system to a more proactive system that incorporates principles of zoning used elsewhere. Speaking to the Guardian Farrell said:
"Planning, in the true sense of the word, is simply not done in this country. In many other places, such as New York, the height, bulk and use of a building is all determined in advance in detailed spatial plans, but here everything is on the table, with every possibility debated every single time."
Another important element of the review deals with architecture education. This applies to higher education -the report suggests adding alternative routes into an architectural career via apprenticeships - as well as the education of much younger students, with the report arguing that architecture and the built environment should be taught as early as possible through many different subjects.
Education and outreach is also a key reason for the proposal of "urban rooms", the recommendation that each town and city should have a space where people can find out more about the past, present and future of where they live, and learn more about the urban principles that are guiding changes to their home towns.
In his own summary of the review, Farrell compared this type of outreach to other shifts in public awareness that have occurred recently, stating that "real change cannot happen unless the wider public starts to expect and demand more of their built environment in the same way that attitudes to food and health have completely transformed things for the better in the past 30 years."
The report, however, does not recommend that the government implement a de-facto 'architecture policy'. Farrell argues that a top-down policy is not required as "almost every [government] department has some policy on design, [...] what is required is better co-ordination." In order to achieve this co-ordination the report recommends "to appoint a chief architect in the same way that there is a chief planner and a chief construction adviser."
The report also encourages this co-ordination in Design Review Panels, which it suggests should become PLACE Review Panels representing all of the built environment professions: Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering.
For a full list of the 60 recommendations of the report, check out the Architects' Journal.