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02.03.20

Rory Olcayto – new role at Pollard Thomas Edwards

Rory Olcayto has joined Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTE) as writer and critic.

The unique role, co-created by Olcayto and PTE, will see the former AJ editor and Open City director develop a new culture of writing, research and criticism for the Islington-based architectural practice, which specialises in the creation and transformation of residential neighbourhoods and town centres.

Andrew Beharrell, PTE's senior equity partner, said:

“We want writing, research and criticism to be an even more integral part of the studio’s design toolkit. We have always promoted the importance of listening, explaining and inspiring, and we see active dialogue with clients, communities and local authorities as the best way to shape future design and development. Rory is joining us at an exciting moment, when the government seems poised to encourage design quality through local engagement, in the wake of the Living with Beauty report.”

Olcayto, an award-winning journalist, will be tasked with embedding a new approach to writing throughout the practice, from enlivening the planning process to deploying storytelling as a conceptual design tool. In tandem he will provide critical analysis of PTE’s projects and strengthen relationships with academia and unit-based studio teaching. And, as a seasoned public speaker, Olcayto will champion the practice at live events, focussing on design outlook, philosophy and the impact of PTE’s work. Drawing upon his experience as director of London’s top public-facing architecture organisation he will also take on a leading role in PTE’s co-design and community engagement projects.

Inspired by his new colleagues Olcayto said:

“It’s a privilege to work alongside them. They’re absorbed in the challenge of providing neighbourhoods people want and deserve to live in. That means creating a civic backdrop, a place for all ages and incomes, with well-designed housing and public buildings.”

Olcayto’s appointment recognises the need for a coherent critical culture to address the design challenges shaping the coming decade. As well as the huge changes to the built environment being wrought by global warming a whole range of factors – from the growth of co-creation and co-design to smart city infrastructure plans, the private-public realm debate, retrofit and the ever-growing third age sector - are transforming our towns and cities today.

Establishing a robust critical culture and a design philosophy that builds upon the pioneering civic-minded architecture, urban design and planning that PTE is renowned for, will be central to Olcayto’s new role.

He said:

“The culture at PTE – of an architecture where the emphasis is always on people and how to put them in contact with others; of creating places where people enjoy being part of something bigger than their own home or workplace – is one the rest of the industry is only now beginning to adopt. Let’s celebrate that and use this head-start we have at PTE to shape a broader vision that will inspire the whole sector through the 2020s and beyond.”

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