Julian Harrap Architects LLP
Architecture offers a vocabulary of different professional lives within one field. It is a field in which you can develop yourself and concoct a route towards a manifesto of ideas.The profession has a duty to conserve our present cultural fabric by way of sensitive adaption,renewal, alteration,amendment, extension or reconfiguration. Conservation and repair brings with it the joy of meeting the long dead architectural mind of the original designer through intense study and the built work. We have to respond to the value of the existing building fabric by using our architectural intelligence and understanding. We do not need a special label. We are architects, not space planners or old building experts or developers' hacks or designers of follies.
There is also the recognition that the language of architecture and cultural artefacts applies equally to the new and the old - I don’t see any distinction between designing a building and designing the repair of a building. To design a new door is identical to the process of repairing an old door within an adopted set of criteria. Each project demands a mini manifesto to establish an approach. Satisfaction also arises from working with fellow professionals who share a willingness to engage with existing and new fabric in a serious intelligent and knowledgeable fashion. Simply asking the client what they want abdicates the need for informed debate and the giving of professional advice. All parties need to grasp a level of understanding equal to the significance of the design task in hand. The absolute responsibility of each contributor cannot be delegated. The greatest obstacle to communication in any specialist sector of a profession is the distance the generalist needs to travel to reach a level of meaningful engagement with the specialist. The generalist architect isn’t trained in the field of conservation. We often have to start at a teaching level to establish the vocabulary with fellow professionals. They can’t understand what we do if they can’t come some way towards understanding our language.