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'Patronising' Iraq advice dropped

The RIBA has scrapped design code proposals for architects working in war-torn Iraq, after they were branded 'patronising' by a leading policymaker.

The institute's council was asked to back the nine-point code, which included guidance on how to work within the country's 'historical, cultural and design background' during Wednesday's (15 December) meeting in Portland Place.

Drafted by RIBA International Relations Committee member Christopher Smith, the guidelines also warned against 'importing alien design forms at inappropriate locations' and urged foreign architects to partner locally based architects 'wherever possible'.

However, a number of council members admitted they were 'very uncomfortable' with the code.

Simon Foxell, chairman of RIBA London, said: 'I applaud the guidelines' spirit but feel they are deeply patronising. It's us telling the Iraqis what they should do, instead of listening to what they want. I'm aghast we are asking architects to do things in Iraq that we are not in the UK.' Other councillors expressed concerns about the necessity of the guidelines and the special attention being lavished on the country.

Olufemi Majekodunmi, a member of the committee and the Africa Union of Architects council, said: 'It is unfortunate we now have to make special principles for Iraq. Why? We are living in a global village where everyone is working everywhere and the UIA [International Union of Architects] code of ethics already exists. If we are going to makes rules for every country we will need 182 of them.' Current RIBA president George Ferguson also had issues with the proposals, which had been drawn up following consultation with Iraq construction experts. 'We need to think in principle about rules that are more onerous on architects working in other countries, ' he said.

The guidelines have been handed back to the committee for further discussion.

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