RICHARD ROGERS: The architect tells CLAD 'we must defend' our public spaces

Richard Rogers has warned that the “the erosion of public space by the private market is a really serious problem in cities.”

In an interview with CLAD at the launch of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, where his firm RSHP have an exhibition, Rogers urged architects, developers and the public to “defend our public spaces.”

“Leisure space, public space, is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy,” he said. “When I studied architecture in the 1950s, 80 per cent of architects in England worked for schools, hospitals and other public buildings. Today, I gather the number is 20 per cent, which in a way reflects the need to defend the public domain.”

Rogers’ comments echo those made my Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena, who last week described architects and developers who put profit over the public good as “the bad guys” responsible for “banality and mediocrity in the built environment.”

Rogers told CLAD that all architects should try and help solve today’s social and environmental challenges.

“We have a responsibility, no question,” he said. “We have a responsibility not only as architects but also as citizens, because architects are citizens after all. Our responsibility is to defend the quality of life of the individual.”

Rogers said that architects could still work for private clients and contribute to the public good. He cited the example of RSHP’s Leadenhall office building, saying “we managed to persuade the local government and the owner to have the bottom of the building as public space.”

The 2016 Venice Biennale is themed around challenges facing the built environment.

In addition to the exhibits curated by Aravena, pavilions representing 65 countries are showcasing different challenges that exist around the world – from natural disasters to financial constraints, pollution, crime and housing shortages – and possible solutions in different contexts.

Richard Rogers  CLAD  Venice Architecture Biennale  architecture  public space 
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Richard Rogers has warned that the “the erosion of public space by the private market is a really serious problem in cities.” In an interview with CLAD at the launch of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, where his firm RSHP have an exhibition, Rogers urged architects, developers and the public to “defend our public spaces.” “Leisure space, public space, is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about
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Rogers told <i>CLAD</i> that all architects have a responsibility to solve today’s social and environmental challenges
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