Richard Rogers reflects on his 50-year career and says that architects today must be careful to protect the public domain in the final movie in our series of exclusive interviews with the eminent British architect. Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12.
"In my generation every architect that left school went to work for a school department, hospital department, housing department, local county council and so on," Rogers says.
"In other words, you’d build for the future. We’d just had a horrible war and there was a very strong feeling about the welfare state, that the state could be enriched by the way that we played out our abilities and our responsibilities."
"This has gone and it is much more an age of greed. It's very much about dog-eat-dog. There’s an acceptance that it doesn’t matter what you earn, you have no duty to society."
He adds: "We have to be very wary of protecting the public domain."
Despite this, Rogers believes it is still an exciting time to be an architect.
"Now we’re looking at an international world," he says. "We weren’t when I started 50 years ago. Now we can make use of a much wider network of communication and therefore change and adapt to that network."
He also believes that the architectural profession in Britain is in good health. "Britain now has very good modern architects, and you could argue that no nation has better," he says.
Despite a lack of political interest in architecture, which he claims "has never been much", Rogers believes that the quality of the built environment in London has also improved in the last 50 years.
"It is better – if you go to the City of London [the architecture] is pretty good. I was coming out of the Design Museum the other day, on the other side of Tower Bridge, and I thought I was in New York with all the towers and lights. I’m not saying its good or bad but it’s very exciting, very dynamic and something that was impossible before."
Reflecting on his personal career, Rogers says he is most proud of the sense of team spirit amongst his colleagues and his practice's constitution, which limits the type of work it takes on.
"I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able and I’ve been very fortunate to work with lots of fantastic colleagues," he says. "I’ve changed the name of the firm so it’s Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners because at eighty, you can see an end will be coming. But I would like to think my ethics, the ethos of the practice, may continue."
"We have a constitution where the partners gave up their ownership [of the practice]. It's owned by a charity and we only do certain kinds of work and that has created a certain team spirit."
He concludes: "I’m proud of all those things and I’m proud about the fact that I have been able to live at a time when I’ve been able to make use of my abilities."
Watch our interview with Rogers about the Royal Academy exhibition »
Watch our interview with Rogers about his Centre Pompidou in Paris »
Watch our interview with Rogers about Lloyd's building in London »
Watch our interview with Rogers about "the Cheesegrater" in London »