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The pragmatic Anglo-Saxon method of competition (reliability, track record, ability to get on with the client) is hardly the environment to encourage creative young architects, or to give them the opportunity to acquire the skills of their craft or the experience of developing and testing ideas through construction. It is no surprise therefore that the young partnership of Jonathan Sergison and Stephen Bates looks towards Europe for its inspiration. These are architects not interested in pursuing the spectacular, nor are they interested in concentrating their energies in the evolution of strategies to win commissions in the commercial market. Instead they would like the opportunity to practise architecture that has social relevance and physical meaning. They are inspired by the European architecture of the last 30 years (Rafael Moneo, Álvaro Siza, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Herzog & de Meuron, Roger Diener), as well as a younger generation of European contemporaries. Along with some of their London colleagues, especially Tony Fretton and Caruso St John, they share a fascination for the work of Peter and Alison Smithson.
Since setting up in practice together in the early 1990s, Sergison Bates has carved out a distinctive, more European-style niche in the UK. They are to be respected for their commitment to a rigorous way of working and a challenging body of work. The achievement of this young practice lies not with any singular work, rather in the fact that they have accumulated both a convincing way of working and talking about architecture and, as this monograph of 2G review testifies, a body of work to be admired.