Mushtaq Saleri's Comments
Comment on: Barratt chief: 'There is no North-South divide'
How about some stick and carrot for creating decent sized well designed (by architects) homes and neighbourhoods that don't just gobble up the greenbelt because it's easier for large homebuilders to make a profit? Landbanks and skewed government subsidies for large companies are no way to plan for a sustainable and affordable future.
Comment on: Incoming RIBA president backs pay-as-you-go BIM
Perhaps we need to a bit more clever about what "BIM" actually means? Let's face it, most public clients wouldn't really be able to implement the full "benefits" of BIM never mind understand it. This is a tick-box exercise implemented by commercial pressure on a government that has not understood how most architects work. I would suggest that if you had a cheap 3D package (such as SketchUp), a basic CAD package and some spread sheet software you could tick the box against BIM for tendering purposes. If clients really want a specific brand…let them pay for it through higher fees.
Beware "consultation" that replaces true "engagement"...a consultation process can always be massaged to fit the desired outcome. If the government is really serious about localism and sustainability...cut VAT on refurbishments. New build suits the large housebuilders and contractors (some of whom lobby politicians), careful refurbishment suits local and smaller firms.
As a practitioner and a university tutor I see both angles to the role of “unpaid internships”. My personal view (and that of my practice) is that if there’s work to be done there should be enough fee income to pay a salary…even if it’s not much beyond a basic wage. We all know of practices (large and small) that are flouting employment laws and we all receive daily applications from ever-desperate graduates looking to offer their time for nothing. If we continue the downward spiral of suicidal fees somehow justifying exploitation, the profession will never recover to the levels where we can properly employ graduates in sufficient numbers. To the unemployed graduates: remember that an architecture degree gives you a great springboard to go off in other directions (design / graphics / development / contracting / project management etc)…you can always come back in the future. To those of us practitioners who still have morals and believe that being a “professional” extends beyond having a plaque on the wall: we need to stand firm on fees and proper employment. Hopefully there’ll be enough of us left to make a difference.
Comment on: Profession fears procurement overhaul
This government's apparent enthusiasm for SMEs needs to be replaced by immediate action not words. As has been demonstrated time and again during this parliament (and to be fair those before), governments have an agenda to assist corporations that lobby so effectively to enable continuation of their profit margins. It is clear that they cannot engage with design as they have no idea what it is or what value it brings - cost is everything to a short term politician. The profession will implode if small companies cannot survive and none of the suggestions make sense. I suggest that Francis Maude needs to spend a year outside of London (and away from Oxbridge chums) experiencing how big business wastes millions while talented small business is shut out - I guess he already knows, but truth doesn't always mix with politics.
We all hate the process but seem paralysed to act in unison to change it. Our profession is being bled dry by this mindless waste of time - whilst a new sinister breed of "consultants" clean up; consultants who either advise clients on how to set PQQs up or advise architects on how to beat the system (often at the same time). The result is a restrictive lack of competition with the same select band of firms appearing on lists time and again: surely the antithesis of the whole ethos of OJEU notices? These consultants have also taken the "risk" away from clients by marking PQQ submissions on their behalf - how is this legal, what process did they go through and what indemnity are they asked to carry for their decisions? Perhaps the RIBA might consider how Chartered Practice status could provide all the checks and balances a client needs - leaving the choice down to who they think will answer the brief in the best way? Perhaps architects might consider some form of collaborative subversive action if normal channels fail? Here's a thought: what if a "ghost" consortium was to legally challenge the wording on every PQQ issued...stripping them down to "are you an architect, please tick yes or no"?
It would be great if all the energy and hate that seems to exist in the world of some people could be channelled into more constructive areas. Yes, most intelligent and articulate people that care about their city want to preserve “heritage” but only if the city is allowed to live, breathe and change. Most professional people involved in development, construction and design would also like to engage in intelligent and factual debate. However, when faced with cheap blog-based blinkered fanaticism and ridiculous campaigns such as the “Carbuncle Cup” it’s no wonder that these debates descend into name calling and nastiness. Time to grow up and realise that “preservation” belongs in jam jars. Grosvenor have listened to everyone and anyone as part of the process of re-building an entire quarter of a city (including the definite wasteland that was Chavasse Park – see historic photos) – perhaps a criticism would be that they should (and could) have ignored more people to get even more out of their teams of architects?
It would be great to see many empty retail units (across the UK) occupied, but if we all knew when the recession was going to end. To be fair to Grosvenor, several tenants have knocked on the door in the six months since completion - but they seem to be holding out (even in these tricky times) for a good "fit" for a building in which they invested significant time and money. As architects that's more than we normally hope for! Now if only we could afford the well fitting suits that Mr Torres was modelling!