In conversation. SHARE Architecture Awards: Peter Murray

In the open conversation we are joined by Peter Murray, Co-Founder of New London Architecture and Chairman of Temple Bar Trust, UK — an essential part of the jury as chair of the Category comprising Landscape, Heritage - Refurbishment in Architecture, City Planning - Public transportation. Discover his valuable insights below and visit the SHARE Architecture Awards dedicated page to find more about the competition.

S-A: What is the combination of qualities that you look for in a project, when judging/analysing?
Peter Murray: Since one is seeking to award architectural quality I am looking for elegant buildings, well detailed and efficiently planned. Beyond that it is important that the building is relevant to its context, by which I mean the surrounding environment as well as the climate. Social considerations involve creating spaces that are accessible, safe, and beneficial to communities while governance ensures that projects are completed ethically and legally and build trust between the architect and the user.

S-A: What are the main challenges that the architect (in general) has to take on in today’s architectural scene?
P.M.: Targeting net zero is without doubt the most pressing and difficult challenge faced by the profession today. Architects must face cost considerations of including specialised materials and technologies, find their ways round complex and often confusing regulations, respond to the priorities of their clients, seek out second hand materials for re-use at a time when the market for the circular economy is at a very early stage. It is generally beyond the architect’s control, but the way that people use the building can determine whether or not it meets its design aims.

S-A: What are the essential three characteristics that any ”thoughtful” project should have embedded?
P.M.: Long life; loose fit, low energy. We must look to buildings that will last for hundreds of years, not just decades, but in order for this to happen they must be able to change to meet different uses as requirements change. They must also be green.

S-A: How would you describe the evolution of the architectural field in Eastern Europe in the last 30 years?
P.M.:I would take one example, that of Tirana, once a drab city with poor infrastructure. The impact of Mayor Edi Rama 2000-2011 was profound, setting a precedent for how aesthetic interventions and active urban policy can transform the spirit of a city. Colourful buildings, public art, green space, cultural events and new infrastructure changed the image of the city. Since then the focus has been on making the city more liveable, economically vibrant, and culturally rich. A new masterplan transforms the shape of the city. The north–south axis extends the existing boulevard by three km and the east–west axis becomes a linear park, rejuvenating the River Tirana.