BREXIT – On thursday, British people are called to vote whether the country is better be part of the European Union or not. In the past weeks the Remain and Leave campaigns hit the news with tons of statements, warnings and even threats. But what about architecture and design professionals? We collected some opinions from some of the most influencing players from David Chipperfield to Foster+Partners, from Tom Dixon to Thomas Heatherwick, and more…
According to a Twitter-poll by Architect’s Journal, a huge 79% of respondents would be backing the Remain campaign when they cast their vote in the EU referendum. Just 13 per cent said they wanted the country to leave the EU.
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“We believe being part of the EU bolsters Britain’s leading role on the world stage. Let’s not become an outsider shouting from the wings”; few days ago The Telegraph published an open letter signed by 300 creatives who live and/or work in the UK including Sir David Chiperfield, Thomas Heatherwick, David Adjaye, Amanda Levete and Richard Rogers but also Ron Arad and Anish Kapoor.
In an interview with Dezeen, Tom Dixon said that a Brexit vote could “potentially damage London’s status as the world’s design capital”. The British designer who sells 30 to 40 percent of his products in all the 28 EU states points out that “We’re facing a lot of really huge known unknowns and nobody really knows”.
Thomas Lane, editor of BD Magazine says that leaving Europe won’t cause a skills shortage in architecture as UK professionals are higly regarded worldwide but he does highlights two major risks. London’s “safe haven status” might be compromised and compromise in its turn the foreign investments in the city real estate development.
The second big risk is the construction reliance on Eastern Europeans who actually build out projects. “A no vote could make recruiting new workers even more difficult, forcing up prices and threatening the viability of projects”.
“Today watching Donald Trump makes feel very European” comments David Chipperfield in an interview with The Guardian. “I think for us to just stay at home and hide in Surrey would be a very bad thing to do to Europe. We can all agree that the people in Brussels shouldn’t tell us how big our bananas should be. But as a professional I have not seen anything that makes me think that the bureaucratic processes of Europe are negative”.
Brexit opposer Amanda Levete highlights to Prospect Magazine how architecture develops from diversity “During my time as an architect I’ve seen how open borders—the free movement of labour—has enriched the discipline. Architecture feeds off diversity: the diversity of skills and perceptions. And it is only through staying in the EU that we can continue to create a collaborative environment to allow architecture to flourish”.
Sam Baron writes an essay on Dezeen pointing out how the history of Britain is one not of glorious isolation but of continual engagement with the wider world. According to the Briitish designer Brexiters wish to restore Britain authenticity promoting a fake nostalgia that never really exist. “Everywhere we look for Britishness we find things that unravel into internationalism” from sausages at the supermarket to St. Paul Cathedral, from the punk culture to the Royal Family, UK was forged by the interaction with the outer world.
Italian architect Annamaria Anderloni, partner at Foster+Partners says in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “For us Brexit would mean limited access to the job market and harder way to find new talents. If the pound goes down it could mean being more competitive but the major problem would be finding skilled workers in the construction sites”.
From his Rotterdan office, Dutch architect Rem Koolhas says to BBC that Brexiters are people who “fundamentally want to change England back to the way it was before. [But] it is the nations and prime ministers that take the decisions, and because of this myth of Brussels, they are also able to blame Brussels for the decisions they took themselves” added Koolhas in an interview to BBC.
On their website, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners say that “the quality of life in Britain, particularly its architecture and its cities, has greatly benefited from the personal, professional and cultural relationships we have with the rest of Europe. This interaction has made us more civilized“. A significant proportion of the practice’s work is currently situated within the EU while more than 40% of the staff are non-British EU citizens. “These individuals stimulate and enrich our practice through the diversity of perspectives they bring to our work, their extraordinary talent and dynamism“.