Debate 23 - Strong walls make good neighbours

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004 | Debates

“Strong walls make good neighbours” is a line from Robert Frost’s The Mending Wall. The poem goes on to the make the case against boundaries:

… Before I built a wall I’d ask to know, What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…

Strong walls

Strong walls

Fuelled by recent articles in the building press that ask questions about the function, purpose and number of institutions, boundaries are suddenly back in focus again. This Edge debate is about how we need them and how they can get in the way. It is the ‘collaborate and compete’ dilemma. What do we need do to lift our game?

Boundaries are the things that control us. They limit our action and frequently need to be crossed if we are to move forward and yet few like their boundaries assailed. The question is whether this is something that can be managed. We live in the age of the creative economy and ideas are the currency. They need to be shared but also protected. This debate is to explore how we do this, do we understand the processes and are we able to take the long view?

Topicality demands that we begin the debate by talking about the institutions, and it is certainly a starting point for many of us, but the debate is much, much wider that this. The intention is to start in our own backyard, range far and then come back with some practical observations on whether boundaries are holding us back or are, in fact, the means of taking us forward.

The debate was chaired by Sir Peter Gershon, Former Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce and architect of the Gershon Review.

Paper 1 - Strong Walls make Good Neighbours? (PowerPoint)

Mark Whitby - Director of +Whitby, champion for carbon counting and an ICE past President.

Paper 2 - Boundaries (PowerPoint)

Peter Guthrie - Former ICE Vice President and now Professor of Sustainability at Cambridge

Paper 3 - Architectural Boundaries

Dr Frank Duffy - Co-founder of DEGW, co-founder of the Edge (with Peter Guthrie) past president of the RIBA and long-time commentator on the future of the professional and their responsibilities.

Notes from the debate

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