British Council’s Future To Be Put To Debate

23 January 2008 (Last Updated January 23rd, 2008 11:36)

The British Council, which showcases the work of UK architects around the world, will start consultation next month on the future of its architecture department as part of a restructuring program, according to Design Week. The council has not released any details about its propos

The British Council, which showcases the work of UK architects around the world, will start consultation next month on the future of its architecture department as part of a restructuring program, according to Design Week.

The council has not released any details about its proposed restructure but it is believed it could lead to its arts and architecture departments combining into a single inter-disciplinary function.

The council has been a long-standing supporter of upcoming architecture, and a strong voice between communities and the government in regards to architectural policies and projects.

It also covers the areas of fine arts, creative and digital technologies.

Architects such as Zaha Hadid, Lord Richard Rogers and David Chipperfield, as well as representatives from Foreign Office Architects and Design for London, have all voiced concerns over the shift and the new terms used for the proposed restructuring.

In a letter published in UK newspaper The Guardian on 19 January, a group of representatives, including Hadid and Rogers, expressed concern about "the British Council's apparent wholesale replacement of art with the language and aspirations of the 'creative industries'".

"We are not convinced that the way in which to achieve positive cultural relations and economic prosperity is through the proposed emphasis on 'market intelligence, knowledge transfer and progressive facilitation'".

"Innovation is not achieved through these means, but through sustained and informed support of artists and creative practitioners."

The collective of leading artists and architects also goes on to praise the council's work over the last decade, during which it has developed world-leading programmes of creative, innovative and socially responsive design and architecture projects.

"These interventions have not only resulted in an increase in critical debate around the role of architecture and design in shaping our lives, but have immeasurably contributed to the success of British designers and architects internationally," the letter says.

"Critical to the success of these initiatives has been the specialist perception and knowledge within the design and architecture department."

By staff writer