The Icon 20/20: Architects 01.05.09

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This is our list of the people in architecture and design who we feel are shaping the future.

It's a snapshot of a generation. You may remember that last year we published our 20 Essential Young Architects (icon 058). Well, this time we've expanded it and shifted the agenda slightly so that it's not just about recognising emerging talent, but picking out the people who are doing things differently. And we haven't repeated any of the 2008 names.

We tried to capture the diversity of design disciplines today - the definitions of these are becoming ever looser. Many of the people on this list are stretching the boundaries of their practice, operating effectively in between disciplines. And we also wanted to acknowledge that some of the most influential figures in their fields are not necessarily practising architects and designers but teachers, funders, researchers and even businessmen. Also, while many of these figures are young, this is not about youth per se: one of the 40 is a middle-aged businessman and another is dead. Oh, and you're on the list too.

There are some differences between the architecture and design sections. It was often easier to judge how pioneering someone was in design than in architecture. Plus, it's very difficult for a young architect to be influential through built projects.

Broadly, this list is as global as we could make it, with entries from China, India and Latin America. The architects in particular are an international bunch. But we still get frustrated by the Western hegemony over design. If we do this next year, we're toying with the idea of indulging in some positive discrimination and only including people from outside Western Europe and the USA.

And we should mention that this is our list, and as such it is completely unscientific; it simply conforms to the limitations that we set ourselves, and often those were instinctive. However, we did call on an international network of expert friends, and we are very grateful to them for nominating people and for their advice in general.

The list below is of the 20 architects.

Eyal Weizman
Zhang Lei
Daniel Rosbottom
Christian Kerez
Melissa Kinnear
Emilio Marin
Sarah Herda
Xu Tiantian
Tom Wiscombe
Neri Oxman
Fernando Romero
Design to Production

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Adam Laycock



Justin McGuirk, Johanna Agerman, William Wiles, Anna Bates, Beatrice Galilee, Oliver Wainwright, Alex Pasternack, Matthew Barac, Sean Dodson


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