The Resourceful Architect

The Resourceful Architect, an open call for ideas about the future uses of architecture, was issued by the RSA and Architecture Foundation in February 2011, and sponsored jointly by Austin-Smith: Lord and Land Securities.

The ambition of The Resourceful Architect was to prompt and give exposure to new ideas for the future uses of architecture in the changing context of professional practice. Submissions were expected to be diverse in form and character, and to express critical thinking about potential new directions for contemporary architectural practice.

The project recognised that many architects now operate in radically different circumstances from those for which they were trained; and that the economic downturn might offer architects an opportunity to re-cast themselves in a new social role within a distributed, local economy.

The idea for this project was developed by the RSA out of issues raised in a series of roundtable conversations, And Now What? Rethinking Spatial Practice, convened by The Architecture Foundation in collaboration with Architecture 00:// in April 2009.

The call recognised and sought to give exposure to the resourceful forward thinking many architects have shown, and are continuing to show, in the prevailing climate of financial constraint, emphatic localism and reflexive critique. Proposals could be entirely new and prompted by the call, or they might be already in development; they might also be completed but under-exposed.

A shortlist of ideas, established by a jury of experts convened by the RSA and Architecture Foundation, was presented at a public ‘Day of Ideas’ in the RSA’s historic Great Room auditorium in May 2011. The Day of Ideas was conceived as an opportunity for 6-12 architects, students of architecture and multidisciplinary teams to showcase their ideas to a jury of high-profile international critics who would appraise the proposals live before an audience of potential collaborators, patrons and clients, including members of the RSA’s 27,000-strong fellowship, achievers from every field with a keen interest in progress and change at a local level. A cash prize was offered for the best idea.

The shortlisting judges were Lewis Biggs, Edwin Heathcote, Sara Ichioka, Emily Campbell, Christine Murray and Jennifer Dixon. The Day of Ideas panel of judges were Peter Bishop, David Partridge, Fernando de Mello Franco and Sophie Haworth. Both juries were chaired by Nabeel Hamdi.

All the judges were briefed to look for resourcefulness, and specifically to consider.

  • Ingenuity: How have you released architecture from conventional professional and economic bounds?
  • Insight: Whom does your project benefit? What, if any, are the political implications of the idea?
  • Collaboration: Who have you communicated with in developing this project and who owns the idea?
  • Practicality: What is the geographical area of application of the idea? What range of resources will need to be managed and how will they be managed?
  • Strategic thinking: What is the wider agenda of your intervention and how does it engage with today’s big issues? How will you communicate it to the right people?

Image link to Creative Gathering report PDFDownload Architecture, Improvisation and the Energy of Place by Nabeel Hamdi accompanied by the RSA and Architecture Foundation’s call for ideas, The Resourceful Architect.
The Resourceful Architect Winner, receiving £2,000

The Redundant Architects’ Recreation Association (RARA)
East London Design Bureau
A flexible and affordable shared workspace for out-of-work architects to experiment and fabricate.

Runners-Up, receiving £500 each

Space for Exchange: A Sustainable Return to Srebrenica
Vernes Causevic, London Metropolitan University
A programme to renew and rebrand war-torn Srebrenica into a sustainable regional centre for vocational education.

Pavement for Las Lomas
Bara Safarova, London Metropolitan University
A DIY instruction manual for making and installing paving slabs for the deprived community of Colonias in Texas.

In partnership with

Architecture Foundation 

Sponsored by

 Austin Smith Lord

 Land Securities