Transforming Public Procurement: London Practice Forum & Project Compass respond to Government Green Paper

The London Practice Forum and Project Compass – a community interest company that campaigns for better public procurement – have co-authored a formal response to the Government’s Green Paper on procurement reform, which was published on 15 December 2020.

We broadly welcome the proposals outlined in the green paper, especially the focus on achieving social value and recognising the importance of long-term outcomes in the assessment of tender submissions.

We recognise, however, that many of these recommendations are already possible under the Public Contract Regulations 2015, and that rather than simple legislative reform, a profound shift in culture and understanding is necessary to ensure that these ambitions are realised. Specific guidance must be provided on, for example, more intelligent methods of scoring quality and price, and submission requirements and qualification criteria must be commensurate with the scale of service being commissioned.

You can view the full Project Compass / LPF response below.

RE―SET―GO

The London Practice Forum is delighted to be supporting the RE―SET―GO programme which launches this week.

Initiated by LPF member-practice We Made That, RE—SET—GO has secured support funding from Stride, which campaigns to build networks that inspire imaginations, encourage collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Backed by the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth, the £85,000 pilot programme launches this week. It will give more than 150 individuals from under-represented backgrounds in these boroughs the experience, skills and connections to prepare for employment in architecture practice.

The architectural profession has been growing faster than any other creative industry in London but structural issues and a poor track record persists and results in a lack of diversity within the industry. Only 7% of all registered architects are people from BAME backgrounds, 37% of all architect jobs in London are held by women and 90% of jobs in the creative economy were done by people in more advantaged socioeconomic groups.

Despite the built environment’s influence on all of our everyday lives, women and Black, Asian and multi-ethnic groups are still under-represented in the professions that shape it. This bias in who gets to shape the cities we live and work in must be corrected. RE—SET—GO will therefore target early career stage individuals (16-24 years old), as well as those seeking to establish independent businesses.

This programme is led by Southwark-based practice We Made That, coordinating with two other female-led architectural practices based in south London; IF-DO and Gort Scott, on programme leadership. The London Practice Forum will provide employment partners from its network of 21 member practices, providing mentoring, work placements and workshops.

RE—SET—GO will make space for excluded voices and pilot ways to build more progressive and representative architectural communities. A number of activities will operate over the coming year, including paid work experience; participative workshops; knowledge exchange events; and 1-to-1 mentoring sessions to support future generations of architects, designers and architecture practices.

Work placements are paid a minimum of the London Living Wage, and all participants are supported by Zone 1-3 travel and subsistence stipend across all activities.

Continue reading “RE―SET―GO”

Call for Colleagues

The London Practice Forum comprises 21 leading architectural practices. Together we have immense influence over the choice of other consultants with which we work. We are often asked to recommend, or sub-contract, services from other disciplines.

This privileged position enables us to take steps to address the lack of diversity in the wider industry. It makes sense to use our influence to improve access to larger projects for minority-led practices who might otherwise not have these opportunities.

On this basis we are keen to hear from related disciplines—particularly, but not exclusively, structural, services engineers and landscape designers—from BAME and female-led firms who are interested in joining an informal framework to which LPF members could refer when asked for recommendations.

Please email hello@practiceforum.london with details of your company, or to make recommendations (or use the comment facility below). Obviously we can’t guarantee that work will come your way, but all LPF member practices are committed to improving representation within the built environment and we think this could make a tangible difference.

We are also acutely aware that the LPF is itself not as diverse as we would like it to be. We are taking steps to address this. We see no reason, however, why both initiatives can’t take place in parallel.

LPF members shortlisted for 2020 Architect of the Year Awards

Nine founding members of the London Practice Forum have been shortlisted for the 2020 Architect of the Year awards, an annual prize run by Building Design magazine.

In the Housing Category, Stitch and Morris + Co are both on the eight-strong shortlist, with Alma-nac appearing for Individual House of the Year alongside seven others. Sally Lewis, principle of Stitch, is also in the frame for Architectural Leader of the Year.

David Kohn architects is one of eight practices for Interior Architect of the Year, whilst Bell Phillips is shortlisted for Public Building Architect of the Year.

We Made That is up for Public Realm Architect of the Year, and in the new Social Impact Award category, RCKa, Turner Works and Stirling Prize-winners Mikhail Riches appear.

Of the seventeen architectural categories, we’re delighted that LPF practices appear on seven. Winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on 23 October.

Today we’re launching the London Practice Forum’s Principles & Ethical Charter

When we first sat down together in late 2018 we had only a vague idea of what our nascent group might achieve. We were painfully aware of many of the challenges faced by small practices working today, but also of the problems facing the wider industry: long hours, low pay, a lack of diversity and declining design and construction quality, among many others. It seemed apparent that a confidential forum where like-minded practices could discuss common concerns would be invaluable, but we soon wondered how we might use our collective influence to campaign for wider reform. A product of this discussion was the “ethical charter” which we are launching today.

The LPF “Principles & Ethical Charter” is the product of a year-long discussion between the twenty-one members of the forum. We know it’s not perfect: it is the product of much discussion and compromise. Many interesting and provocative ideas were put forward and discarded along the way. But collectively we believe that this is the beginning of a journey rather than the conclusion, and this charter presents an idea of how, as we enter a new decade, we might act together to address some of the challenges faced by small practices and wider society.

It is not carved in stone. We expect to revise and update this regularly to ensure that it remains both relevant and aspirational. The environment in which we work is changing constantly―our commitments to each other, and the communities in which we operate, should adapt accordingly.

Particular thanks must go to Hari Phillips and Jay Morton of Bell Phillips Architects who were instrumental in putting the bones of this document together. Thanks too to We Made That for its provocative “What We Won’t Do” which played a key part in the discussion. And most of all, thanks to the members of the LPF who have invested considerable time and energy over the last fourteen months.

We welcome comments and suggestions from others who share our concerns about the state of the profession and want to help work to improve it for the future. Please get in touch by emailing hello@practiceforum.london.