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Dunlop beats drum for China following competition success

December 10 2012

Dunlop beats drum for China following  competition success
Alan Dunlop has launched an impassioned plea to architecture graduates to up sticks and head east to find work after shifting much of his own practices focus to the nascent superpower.

Dunlop, part of a team recently short-listed to design a £219m tourism resort on the South China Sea, believes that economic stagnation and bureaucracy at home have made China the logical choice for any aspiring architect, who might otherwise be stuck pulling pints and stacking shelves.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday Dunlop, who teaches at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, said: “To qualify for public projects you have to satisfy the pre-qualification questionnaire [PQQ], then you have to have £10 million indemnity insurance and things like that, and this prohibits small firms like this one, despite my 25 years of experience, from -competing for big projects. It is absurd. It’s as much to do with box ticking and, frankly, covering your backside, as it is about making sure you have got the right architect to do the job. It is really bizarre.

“But it’s not the same in ¬China. They don’t require the same PQQ requirements and form filling. I can use the expertise and experience I have and then team up with a firm of architects based in China and compete for these huge ¬international contracts.”

Dunlop recently railed against desperate practices advertising their services online for as little as £120 (half of which goes on admin), citing it as evidence of an increasingly bleak future for medium sized practices, which reports such as RIBA’s Building Futures’ predict could be largely extinct by 2025.


Trombe Wall
#1 Posted by Trombe Wall on 10 Dec 2012 at 13:45 PM
Or, practices aim for PQQs which they are of a sufficient size to handle. Large firms qualify for large projects because they can resource them, medium practices for medium projects. Collaboration works well and has a proven track record for bridging gaps. Take the V+A and the Mac extension.

I do agree that as a graduate, why not 'look east', there are great opportunities. The preference surely though, would be to provide work for our graduates here, in this country.
#2 Posted by Neil on 10 Dec 2012 at 13:59 PM
Congratulations AD
David McMahon
#3 Posted by David McMahon on 11 Dec 2012 at 06:13 AM
#1 the ability to produce good and quality work has little to do with resources or size. the largest practices often create the poorest architecture and for the lowest fee.
#4 Posted by rob on 11 Dec 2012 at 12:38 PM
#3 – Indeed i was passing the new Hydro down by the SECC just the other day when i thought to myself
“How awful that that project went to a big practice like Fosters when a 1 man band practice would probably have done a much better job”

I think your statement was a sweeping generalisation.
David McMahon
#5 Posted by David McMahon on 11 Dec 2012 at 14:27 PM
You should have walked a bit further west along Broomielaw. For every Foster and Partners there are ten Keppie Design and BDP
Shakin Stevens
#6 Posted by Shakin Stevens on 11 Dec 2012 at 15:42 PM
McMahon, yer just plain wrong. Just as AD (congratulations on the shortlisted entry) says, it's east you head, not west. Now quit bumpin yer gums and give me back my denim donkey jacket, I'm playing the roadhouse in the brig next weekend
#7 Posted by NiceTaeSee on 13 Dec 2012 at 08:46 AM
I fully support Allan's move to China.

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