Risk, Regulation and the Practices of Architects

Imrie, Rob and Street, Emma. 2009. Risk, Regulation and the Practices of Architects. Urban Studies, 46(12), pp. 2555-2576. ISSN 0042-0980 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

There is a plethora of regulation relating to building form and performance and,
seemingly, much more emphasis on risk identifi cation and its management, particularly
in relation to the processes underpinning the development and delivery of building
projects. It appears that the practices of architects, like other urban design professionals,
are implicated in the construction of risky objects and their mitigation by recourse
to systems of managerial governance. Drawing on survey and interview data, it is
suggested that a new focus for the understanding of architecture, and urban design
more generally, ought to be consideration of the interrelationships between creativity,
risk and regulation. The paper describes and evaluates architects’ understanding of, and
responses to, what they perceive to be increased exposure to risk (and its regulation) in
the design process. The paper is built around the proposition that risk and its regulation
are entwined with organisational changes in the nature of project development and
delivery, and linked with the emergence of what might be regarded as diffused or
dispersed organisational forms that in and of themselves become harbingers of risk
while also being one of the means to create new forms of risk governance. In turn,
many of architects’ responses to risk revolve around procedures to secure reputation
in contexts where loss of standing and repute is perceived to be a signifi cant threat

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2 December 2009Published

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18 Oct 2013 08:39

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 09:37

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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