The Building Centre first opened its doors in New Bond Street, London on 7 September 1932, having been established a year earlier as a building materials bureau within the Architectural Association. In 1941 the New Bond Street building was destroyed in the Blitz and so a brief move to Conduit Street was necessary, before the Building Centre moved to its current home at Store Street, Bloomsbury, in 1951.
In 1963 the Built Environment Trust was established to enable charitable activities and deliver a programme of public engagement. Our mission is to be a facilitator within the wider community and create links between individual people, industry leaders and politicians to collaborate on how best to effect change in the built environment. We offer a unique position as a meeting point – both literally and figuratively – for all aspects of the built environment.
"The difference between good and bad architecture is the time you spend on it.”David Chipperfield
The first part of celebrating our 90th anniversary is a new exhibition in the Centre which takes the reader through nine decades of architectural style, delivery and purpose. We ask what were the catalysts for change? How did the wider socio-political environment influence the nature of construction, and what were the most important factors at play? Come along and visit the exhibition for free or view the accompanying pdf here.
And true to our mission to inspire, connect and empower, the Trust has also brought to life a major initiative, ‘90for90’ which celebrates the last 90 years of the built environment throughout the UK. We have invited 90 leading figures from across Britain – from architects, engineers, planners and developers to actors, architectural historians, photographers, broadcasters, writers and artists – to select their favourite examples of our nation’s built environment.
We have encouraged each contributor to select a building or public space that has special significance for them. It may be a project they worked on; in a town they have lived in, or perhaps somewhere that sparked their interest in their own career.
"Context is so important, not to mimic... but to become part of the place.”David Adjaye
This is not just about buildings – the built environment is so much more than that. Our contributors were free to choose urban green spaces, sculpture parks, iconic structures, repurposed industrial buildings, public buildings, public houses, libraries, galleries, theatres, places of worship. The only criterion is that it must be something that resonated strongly with them.
As we count down to September 2022, each month we will be releasing names and choices of our contributors here, as well as celebrating the role of the built environment through a series of events. Watch out for your own favourite place!
"Architecture is really about well-being. On the one hand it's about shelter, I think that people want to feel good in a space... but it's also about pleasure.”Zaha Hadid