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For quite some time, the network of firms and agencies operating under various CPD systems had been companies who, by dint of a handful of cream cakes, a PowerPoint set-up and a semi-literate sales rep, managed to get their feet in the door of architects' offices on the thinly veiled pretence of an educational programme. But now, for the first time, instead of talking about specification items, a CPD provider will give information on architectural theory.
The latest addition to the RIBA's list of accredited CPD providers is The Prince's Foundation, the educational charity set up by the Prince of Wales.
Presumably, The Ermined One won't be popping into your office any time soon, but a series of CPD seminars on 'Urban Design and Architecture' will be available for anyone wishing to, in the words of Michael Mehaffy, director of education for The Prince's Foundation, 'address the most timely and fascinating topics facing professionals today'.
Before you dismiss the value of architectural and urban CPD from the Royal House of Poundbury, the programme of events is actually very interesting and puts most bog-standard CPD sessions to shame. Even though there is a definite 'spin' on the topics under discussion ('The Order of Nature', 'The Place of Dwelling:
Local Identity in a Fast-Track Age', 'Architectural Craftsmanship', etc), these seem to be highly intelligent inquiries into key urban issues. The blurb states that 'invited attendees' include Charles Jencks, Bill Hillier and Christopher Alexander, who may participate in a day-long masterclass discussing Alexander's 'new magnum opus', The Nature of Order (due for release in UK soon). At a twoday conference, discussion of theory with leading architectural scientists, philosophers and stakeholders will be followed by 'explorations of 'nuts and bolts' implications'. You have to admit, it sounds fascinating, if maybe a little over-indulgent.
Other courses aim to 'raise the level of architectural literacy' (with breakout sessions looking at such literacy among the public, in government and in the housebuilding industry, as well as for design professionals). Currently being appraised by the RIBA, The Prince's Foundation is working on more bite-sized one-hour sessions, so there may be delicate cucumber sarnies to look forward to as well.
The idea that architects should be trained by a motley collection of manufacturers and private consultants, as is often the case, says less about the motivations of those firms than it does about the value of education today. So it is nice to see that a difficult CPD session is being developed to challenge architects rather than simply to keep them 'aware'. This can only be a good thing.
For further information, contact Joni Tyler at the RIBA on 020 7580 5533 or email The Prince's Foundation on education@Princes-Foundation. org