Nicholas Grimshaw tells Dezeen his future plans as he steps aside as chair of his eponymous firm, to be replaced by principal architect Andrew Whalley.
The 79-year-old architect, who won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2019 , will remain in an advisory role and will devote much of his time to the new Grimshaw Arts and Architecture Foundation.
In an exclusive interview with Dezeen Grimshaw said he wanted to use his 50 years of experience to help young people enter the industry, and promote diversity and sustainability.
“It’s going to be one of my chief interests,” he said.
“I’ve seen the lack of support, and the lack of acknowledgement for what architects can do. The government has decided that the creative industries are a major way of supporting this country, but there isn’t the training across the whole field.”
Whalley, who joined Grimshaw just a few years after it was founded in 1980, will mobilise the practice’s global network of offices to support the foundation’s work, which will be funded by an endowment.
“We had an event in New York with [secretary of state for international trade] Liam Fox, and he was extolling the importance of the creative industries have for the UK internationally, and in particular architecture,” said Whalley.
“But [there is] a lack of support in education, particularly in schools. Time given for art and creative pursuits, music, drama, all those things that help a creative mind flourish are either underfunded or not funded at all,” he added.
“If you get into art school, it’s almost by by accident, really, that you’ve managed to survive the system.”
The Grimshaw Foundation will also fund a series of talks at the RIBA where artists will speak to architects.
Sustainability is a core part of Grimshaw’s ethos. The Eden Project, which Whalley led in 1998, was developed according to sustainable principals
On receiving his RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Grimshaw laid out his case for redeveloping buildings, which he claimed should never be demolished for environmental reasons.
Whalley, who was unanimously elected as the new chair by the Grimshaw partners, also led on other landmark Grimshaw projects such as the Waterloo International Terminal, the redevelopment of Paddington Station in London, and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre in New York.
He also set up the Grimshaw’s New York studio in 2001.
Going forward, Whalley said the practice plans to keep funding innovation into prefabricated modular systems that can lower the cost of construction.
Currently the practice is working on the pavilion for the an educational facility in Australia, and a sustainability pavilion for the Dubai 2020 Expo that will be entirely carbon neutral.