The referendum on independence provides a golden opportunity to reposition architecture in Scotland and create a more positive environment for architects to work within. Scotland already has its own, distinctive architecture policy (indeed it is currently in its third iteration), but being able to link this to the Scottish Government's policy to reindustrialise the country with the creation of a sustainable industrial strategy designed for the 21st century and which embraces architecture and construction is a chance too good to miss.
What's to fear, after all? Architecture outwith a resurgent London has been in the doldrums for the past several years and shows precious little sign of emerging transformed for the better anytime soon. As architects, we are trained to embrace change - indeed to anticipate, imagine and plan for it – and now we have an opportunity like never before to demonstrate our value to society. The question as to whether Scotland should be an independent nation has been brought to the fore at this point primarily because the dysfunctional and arguably corrupt governmental apparatus at Westminster steadfastly refuses to consider at all the need to change its antediluvian behaviour and create a government structure fit for the 21st century and which works for all of the UK and not just for the City of London. Instead it tries to frighten people in Scotland with absurdly negative scenarios whilst at the same time indulging in the worst of pork barrel politics by its almost daily offering of money for projects north of the border - providing of course that people here vote no in the referendum.
We live in changing times and as a profession we have the opportunity to vote for the opportunities independence has to offer. There are around 4000 architects in Scotland – more than there are members of the Liberal Democratic Party, but they get to sit in government at Westminster and make decisions that adversely affect us all. As architects we can play our part in changing this by first of all accepting that there is no future in the profession remaining apolitical in a highly politicised world. The desire to be independently governed is not fanciful, nor is it about looking inward (as so much of the national media would have us believe): it is very much about creating an outward, active and economically successful role for Scotland in the world league of independent nations. As architects we have an important role to play in achieving this and I will be posting more articles here to explain exactly how it can be done.