Our Founding Partner, Mark Potter has just been made a Fellow at the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Here he talks a bit about why he wanted to become a part of the RSA and how organisations like this can help us make a difference.
The power of personal connections
By Mark Potter
I strongly believe that architecture has a social purpose. In fact, a good proportion of my professional work incorporates this purpose – I have worked on projects that embrace new approaches to mobility in urban planning, facilitate community led housing and identify the property potential and assets of charities. But I also know from experience, that these socially-minded projects are not always easy to pull off.
Indeed, there have always been many more potential projects in my professional life than those that have come to fruition. So many projects that I believe could have benefited society, helped those in need. And I know that I am not alone in experiencing these sorts of disappointments, which is why I set out to become a fellow at the RSA.
The RSA is known as the great ideas factory, its aim ‘to enrich society through powerful thinking and practical action’. For me this is an incredibly exciting and empowering concept and one that resonates perfectly with my own world view.
As an architect, the demands of the project work we do are too often driven by time deadlines and expediency. The RSA meanwhile is an ideal setting to stand back and consider how things might be done better. It is a much needed place of reflection, discussion and research away from working life.
It is about actively seeking out other fellows who work in similar fields and sharing knowledge and experience. We always gain more from being generous with our knowledge and I am excited and intrigued by the innovation and new creative thinking and techniques that may emerge from this engagement. My hope is that they will enable projects that benefit society to occur where they might not otherwise, and when they do occur to be more innovative and effective.
But we should not restrict our ideas to our professional realms. In my spare time, I am a trustee and treasurer for The Devas Club, a local charity that provides activities and opportunities for young people in Wandsworth, helping to reduce the risk of them drifting into gang culture. I am looking to raise consciousness in the local community of the work The Devas Club does with the help of fellows of the RSA who live and work locally.
There is no doubt in my mind that personal connections are life’s great facilitators and I am ambitious that as a fellow future visions that have the power to truly benefit society will more easily become realities.