Will Brexit pose a risk to British architecture and design?

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Will Brexit pose a risk to British architecture and design?
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A director of property consultancy McBains Cooper on what Brexit means for the architecture industry.

Brexit has opened up a whole range of new questions and uncertainties for the country. But no-one has – yet – discussed the effect of our withdrawal from the EU on the architecture and design of our cities. Will there be a real impact on architecture in its wider sense, our approach to design and its influences? And how might it reflect the emerging culture of a post-Brexit UK? What might history teach us? What dangers lurk out there for architecture?

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the referendum result was that the leave vote, in a large part, seemed to reflect an increasingly insular population wishing to close our borders. But many architectural practices have teams that are drawn from different countries; teams that are rich in diversity and cultural differences which are reflected in their designs. Changes to freedom of movement within the European Economic Area will impact on the nature of design teams, and the insight obtained from such a diverse cultural pool. This cannot be good for architecture as a whole.

Brexit could also have an effect on physical design itself. There has always been a link between architectural style, and social, political and economic change expressed through different building typologies and even nation states. Just consider the social and political backdrops to classicism, neo-classicism, fascist, renaissance, modernism and post-modernism to see how each was driven by a political and or socio-economic response to the particular time and place.

In today’s world, a scan of the architecture journals might lead one to conclude that today’s design is driven by “modern vernacular”. But maybe, in uncertain times, there will be a return to materials like brick and timber as a form of architectural comfort food. […]