Comment on: Fee levels stagnate despite architects' optimism
I think low fees are the fault of architects pricing themselves too low and continuing to compete on price. The RIBA business benchmarking report last year found that the majority of contracts are not decided on fees. Especially since high proportion of repeat work. When I have acted as a client adviser, the selection of architect was never on price although the client may like to barter so they feel like they are getting a deal or value for money. However I suspect that many architects continue to pitch their fees low because they think that is the way to win the contract even though the economy has picked up. In my experience, few architects have good sales and negotiation skills. Many fail to understand the clients needs or the drivers of their businesses. Negotiations are often a question of how the deal is structured / the value proposition framed or where value is perceived. Architects often misjudge this. Some architects however are natural deal makers. These are the very successful ones! If in doubt I always ask myself what Norman Foster would have done in that situation! I would like to encourage architects as a group to start charging more and not shoot themselves in the foot.
Comment on: Revealed: Assemble shortlisted for Turner Prize
I note that Assemble have chosen to communicate as a group. Individuals are not named or celebrated in any of the press releases. Even on their website, I could not find a list of collaborators, members or any information about their backgrounds. In an age of social media, lack of privacy, and availability of personal information, this is highly unusual. A far cry from Heatherwick for example. I respect and admire Assemble for promoting the collaborative nature of their work and not succumbing to the celebration of the individual genius. It is unique position in today's world.
Comment on: Covert House by DSDHA
Looks fabulous - love the photo across the garden with unexpected mirrored window frames. All those reflected greens.
Comment on: Obituary: Dalibor Vesely (1934 – 2015)
Charismatic, charming, surrounded by admirers, everyone wanted to be in Dalibor's studio when I was at Cambridge. His teaching was challenging, complex, intense but inspiring and I wanted to understand and be part of his school of teaching. We knew we part of architectural history and I wanted to be part of it but remained on the fringe. Memories of darkened crits in the 'pit' with swirls of cigarette smoke and strong coffee from Martins. M Phil seminars round the Library table for the chosen few. References to Gilgamesh, Czech animators Brothers Quay as well as Foucault and Merleau-Ponty. Field trips to Leuven and Naples with Dave Dernie and Phil Meadowcroft. Collages and layered images representing both spaces and ideas. Not easily forgotten.
Competitions are risky for architects. I analysed the cost and probability of winning the Windermere Steam Boat Museum Competition in 2012 and use it as a case study to illustrate why architects should not enter competitions. In that case, the OJEU advertisement was open to 500,000 eligible architects. 118 practices probably spent at least 5 days submitting PQQs. 8 'lucky' practices were shortlisted and paid an honorarium of £2500. Looking at the entries submitted, they each probably spent >£50K on developing detailed designs including CGIs. Only one practice would win the completion and earn a fee. I estimate the commissioning body or client gained roughly half a million pounds worth of architects' time and access to considerable creative talent and ideas for a small investment of £20,000 The probability of winning competitions is often extremely low. The cost of not winning can be very high. The waste of resources of so many architects not winning is huge and affects the productivity of the profession. Clients take advantage of architects. I recommend architects choose the competitions they enter carefully and calculate the opportunity costs before committing.