By Andrew Ruffler

The theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture is boundaries, and some of the biggest names in the industry are showing us exactly how to push through them, writes Andrew Ruffler.

As one of this year’s sponsors, Uniform got a free pass to the world’s largest gathering of architects. What I saw opened my eyes to how quickly collaboration can happen if we just blur the lines a little.

Joining in the popular ‘Studio Lates’, where architecture practices across the city throw open their doors and showcase their wares, I called into Woods Bagot, Glen Howells, Fletcher Priest and MAKE – all in about two hours. 

With me were members of each practice, along with architecture students and probably architects from other parts of the city, if not beyond the M25 – all making the same journey around. 

As we took in each practices’ interpretation of this year’s Boundaries theme – exhibitions, work showcases, VR experiences and even a drawing competition – I saw no one hastily copying ideas, tapping up staff, or identifying clients to poach.  

Could it be that breaking down of boundaries, socially and culturally, actually created new opportunities? Could it be that transparency was good for business?

Working at the RIBA in the North West, I’d see people get together for an Awards event maybe, a pub quiz perhaps, but an open studio…

And London doesn’t wait for a festival to collaborate: as Londonon, a collaborative research and residency programme involving Haptic, Morris + Co, Mae and Coffey Architects, proves.

There, pooling resources, collaborative research and joint study trips are encouraged. 

So, is this ‘sharing economy’ a London phenomenon? 

With the Northern architecture and design scene more active than ever, I’d like to think that close collaboration between practices and their networks  – including visualisation studios – is possible. Even on the horizon. 

In fact, I feel like we’re all waiting behind our boundary lines, just itching to cross...


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