It is the duty of architects internationally to take action, as the UIA requires, where a professional body does not make sure its members observe architectural and ethical practice, especially when it breaches international law and the 4th Geneva Convention. UIA Resolution13 quite clearly condemns such projects, and also where architecture erases another's culture within the country of one's citizens, and those under its occupation. We see the methodology of Israel's occupation and it's total control and dispossession of Palestinians unfolding with tragic and devastating consequences in Gaza -refusing to lift a nine year siege that has prompted such resistance. This has been met with a murderous onslaught killing mainly civilians and again massive destruction of homes, civic buildings, hospitals, schools and civic infrastructure, Similarly, mass demolitions of homes in the West Bank, and appropriation of Palestinian land accompanies every act of building of the illegal settlements repeatedly condemned by the world. Architects of conscience and ethical practice cannot turn a blind eye to this injustice, which strikes at the heart of our ethical conduct -and treat the RIBA resolution to suspend the Israeli Architects' Association as an annoying irritant. One of longest occupations in modern times by a 'democratic' country that holds the world record for breaches of international law and UN Resolutions cannot escape notice of the world body of a humane profession, that designs our homes and cities as the basis of a decent society.
Please note: This working group, whatever it turns out to be, is no substitute to the RIBA's firm and democratic 19 March Council decision to support the suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects from the UIA. Stephen Hodder has always says that the decision was now RIBA policy and still stands, yet he now mistakenly says that that by setting up such a group, the Motion is 'fulfilled'. He also cites that by sending the decision letter to the UIA, and receiving a reply that it is 'beyond the UIA' s political scope' that it relieves him of the responsibility of pursuing this Motion to be tabled at the UIA. This is certainly within the scope of the UIA, as a similar issue over South Africa in its apartheid days was made by the UIA, which expelled SA as a member. The RIBA too has a similar precedent in 1978, when it cut its links with South African schools of architecture as part of the boycott. In any case, this is an issue of the clear breaches of Resolution 13 by the IAUA since 2005, which condemns projects that are against the Geneva Conventions (considered as war crimes) and which involve ethnic cleansing and erasure of another people's culture. The building of illegal settlements since 1967 on expropriated Palestinian land, the whole enterprise of the architecture of occupation that continues with accelerated frenzy even during the recent peace talks, all involve Israeli architects -in a unique collaboration with the state and military policy. The evidence has been profusely documented, and the policies condemned worldwide. Further this is an issue of professional ethics and the breaches of the UIA's ethical Accords -again clearly documented. Stephen Hodder will still need to pursue this historic decision by Council at the UIA in Durban is he wishes the RIBA to retain its integrity as a truly professional Institute concerned with morality and justice.
It does look like a rather frobidding edifice for social housing. Lighten up David -all those rose embossed graphite tinted walls look too severe -why no balconies to soften the cubular mass -which suits the latest architectural monochromatic minimalist trends -but shows a lack of appeal to the masses and the softening of a harsh environment. Though the roof farm is good -why not dangle some trellises down the building for some greenery to trail down?
The reaction by the RIBA President is concerning and disappointing -includiing that of the Ritblats -since this whole issue of 'political scope' has been dealt with as a misleading misrepresentation by the UIA President Albert Dubler. Firstly, if the UIA has any political scope -this is exactly its remit, (as it was in the 1970s when the UIA and the RIBA expelled South Africa) since it is the UIA's own very political Resolution 13, passed twice, the last time in 2009, specifically in relation to projects involving Israel's breaches of the Geneva Convention and its ethnic cleansing and erasure of Palestinian culture and history. Since the IAUA's members continue ignoring this Resolution which actually involves serious professional misconduct and breaches of the ethical and professional UIA Accords -and the IAUA turns a blind eye to this with total detachment, any professional association whose members subscribe to a code of ethics yet suffers them to break the law is surely no longer strictly speaking a professional association. Ergo, they (i.e. the Israeli Architects Association) should be disqualified from membership in the UIA which is, at least ostensibly an association of professional memberships. By refusing to actively pursue the RIBA Council's democratically voted Motion on 19 March for Israel' suspension from the UIA, its President Hodder, and the UIA' s President Dubler are colluding and collaborating with the IAUA -whom Dubler had given firm assurances that the Motion will not proceed -without allowing all the UIA General Assembly to decide. This is disgraceful and scandalous -since the Palestinians, who are suffering the decades long occupation, violent oppression and dispossession resulting from Israel's massive real-estate enterprise built by Israeli architects, against international law, have requested that this matter of suspension of the IAUA is taken up urgently on the Agenda -as a sheer emergency. This is an historic opportunity to send a message to Israel that of it wants to be considered a democracy, it has to behave like one. Its architects, who build the physical reality of the Occupation need to learn there is a price to pay, until they change and condemn this unacceptable professional, unethical and immoral situation.
Comment on: Ian Martin: My ten favourite bits of London
Absolutely delightful, Ian. I agree with most of your 'likes' and your 'hate' -the Shard. I've aways hated it as it was going up -and now you can never miss it -it looms like a giant toothpick on the skyline. I always relish Paolozzi's mosaics at Tot.They look poorly maintained and need a clean up and listing so they can't be removed or taken away . Lubetkin too is great. All his stuff in Islington which I passed by regularly when working in the Architect's Dept there. Also missing in your list are some of Lambeth estates under Hollamby. Brutalism at its vastest. Now Eric Pickles want all these estates demolished when any of them have been cleverly renovated. Let' s have some more from Ian -I hope he is back as a regular!