It’s about a shift of mindset

Written By
The Davidson Prize


We spoke with Duncan Campbell, Director at Atelier Ten, about the pace of innovation in materials and designing buildings for their entire lifecycle.

What will you be looking for as a judge of the 2024 Davidson Prize?

Something that excites me or intrigues me. I want to feel a pang of jealousy for anyone who would get to live in the prize-winning entry.

If you were Housing Minister for a day what single measure would you put in place to start tackling the housing crisis?

I was going to comment that a day isn’t really long enough and then realised that it isn’t that much longer than the average tenure of a Housing Minister over the past 10 years. And this is essentially the problem. You can’t do it in a day or even a few months. It needs a strategy based around a compelling vision. There are so many factors contributing to the housing crisis that need to be unpicked.

Is there an example of residential adaptive reuse that really stands out to you, and why?

I guess the classic New York loft is the original residential adaptive reuse project. Re-purposing obsolete manufacturing space for (originally) low-cost living. I like WilkinsonEyre’s adaptation of the gasholders for Argent up at Kings Cross.

The Davidson Prize is all about the communication of brilliant design ideas. What scope do you see for better communication of architectural ideas and intentions to wider audiences as the digital era evolves?

The image is so important. I’m a sucker for a lo-fi sketch but I appreciate the power that digital image making affords. Some of the ways AI is being used now driving the speed and quality of images is extraordinary and this is now moving into creating video and 3D worlds. I haven’t really seen VR used successfully as yet, it feels like a technology we’re still trying to work out how to harness.

What alternative sustainable building material is most exciting/stands out the most to you?

What’s most exciting at the moment is the pace of innovation in materials. It feels like we’re on the frontier of a new and interesting period. Having said that I like to see the creative use of and repurposing of waste materials to create something new.

What does the home of the future look like to you?

I’m lucky enough to have a garden at home, the connection from the home to outside is really important. There is a growing evidence base of the benefits of having a connection to the natural world and I think our next generation of housing needs to embrace this.

What are some easy ways for architects and designers to take part in the circular economy?

It’s about a shift of mindset. We are designing buildings for their entire lifecycle, not just so they look great at practical completion. We need to think about the building’s first significant refurbishment, what it could be adapted to be used for and how will it be deconstructed. We’re already seeing supply chains emerge to support circularity. It will be exciting to follow over the next few years.