A new spirit of peace and calm descended on the relationship between the ARB and RIBA last week after the two parties finally agreed on a deal for how schools of architecture will be jointly validated. But it looks as if the years of struggle have been nothing more than legal representatives from both sides fighting costly battles over wording.
ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan said the agreement sets out the two institutions' respective roles in the validation process, with the ARB statutorily responsible for standards of education and professional competence with a mandate to implement the 1985 European Commission Architects Directive. The RIBA's ro l e , a s enshrined in its Royal Charter, is to achieve 'the advancement of architecture and the promotion of the acquirement and knowledge of the arts and sciences connected herewith'. It will encourage diversity and research and strengthen 'the academic integrity of the arts and sciences of architecture as the bedrock for a mature, contemporary and socially responsible practising profession'.
A statement said they will now work together to allow schools to 'effectively prepare graduates to meet the challenging demands of our fast-changing construction industry and the social and ethical dimensions within which it operates'.
The deal has taken years to come about primarily because both sides looked upon the issue as a turf war over the balance of power, with each seeking to take the lead. The new working relationships in validation will take effect in July, once the validation document, Procedures for Validation, is printed and distributed to school heads.
'To be honest it w ill be hard to spot the difference and schools will find it business as usual, ' said ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan. 'It's evolution, rather than revolution, and the document will be read with interest and relief. But it's exciting and bodes well for future working relationships.'
RIBA director of education Leonie Milliner told the AJ that the changes and refinements were mainly 'minor' and mostly to do with altering terminology to make the arrangement 'lawyer proof '. The Joint Validation panel, for instance, will now be known simply as the validation panel because the ARB cannot be seen to be 'fettered' in its duties by any other body and 'joint' implies the opposite. 'That's why it's been so tortuous' she said. 'But it's a success story. I'm sure the schools will be pleased.'