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Thirty years of selling out to the economists


An Architectural Review editorial back in 1973 complained that: 'Ours is the first generation to succumb abjectly to these (economic) pressures and to produce a city centre architecture which testifies to nothing else. This sellout to economics applies to all modern building types and to the whole environment.'

Since that was published, a new generation of architects has risen to the challenge, and the demand for, and recognition of, good design by the public has never been greater. Why, then, the supine acquiescence of the RIBA to government demands for the scrapping of rules 3.1 and 3.3, forbidding the revision of fee bids (or Dutch auctions) and the offering of inducements?

This calls into question the value of the RIBA. One of the institute's primary roles is to act as the members' interface with government, both as informed advisor and as defender of our territory. As a voluntary professional grouping, we, the members, should be at liberty to determine our own house rules.

This same government has released the public sector from the tyranny of always accepting the highest bidder (in a sale) or the lowest bidder (in a tender) if there is a good case to be made that another offer represents better value for money.

Contractors are treated (at least in the LA tendering procedure) with more respect than the Office of Fair Trading sees fit for us. In competitive tender procedure, bids are not published until it is determined which firm will get the contract.

MPs are not permitted to accept or give inducements that might affect their conduct in the House of Commons - remember Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken?

Yet the jokily named Office of Fair Trading proposes to impose a lower standard of behaviour on architects.

Kate Macintosh Winchester, Hants

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