John Kellett's comments
"Externally, most office buildings are not suitable for residential buildings in terms of windows, balconies, etc and recladding is often required"
Not true, nearly all office buildings that are now unsuitable for office use in towns and cities started life as residential buildings.
"Most office floor plates from air conditioned post 1970s offices are usually very deep, which makes them unsuitable for residential units"
True, but they can make very good offices or homes by creating atria, it can be a challenge to carry structurally within budget but not impossible.
"Wholesale replacement of central plant and equipment to different heating, cooling and electrical loading requirements"
Not necessarily and would be necessary in many cases to make the building useable as a modern office anyway.
"Biggest issue is often structural alterations that may be required to make the original stair and lift cores work for a residential layout"
Surely those office buildings will not be candidates for change of use then! Most ex-residential buildings that have been 'converted' to office use can be 'unconverted' quite simply, especially in terms of lifts and stairs.
Any architectural student from within the EU who has failed to qualify in their home country, and therefore cannot design buildings in that country in their own name, can freely enter the UK and set up in business here designing buildings without having qualifications or having to prove / demonstrate competency!
Can the RIBA, ACA, CIBSE, IStructE, ICE and ARB etc. please lobby UK PLC to ensure that, like most European countries, it is a requirement that all building designers are suitably qualified. To allow anyone to design buildings without any consumer protection in place in the C21 is insane. The minimal 'protection' afforded by planning and building regulations legislation is negligible and is of course also present in those many EU nations who, quite rightly, think it dangerous to allow unqualified persons to design buildings. It should be a pan-European legislative requirement that all members of a building design team are suitably qualified for their role within that team.
There is actually a 'employment lake' of trained and qualified British nationals fully qualified in many construction disciplines currently being 'overlooked' in favour of cheaper imported and un(der)qualified labour. Why?
"The survey found that 89 per cent of respondents would prefer to live in a house on a street".
I suspect a similar proportion of 'respondents' would prefer to have a better car/appearance/phone etc!
"According to the Policy Exchange document, nobody wanted a home in high-rise social housing blocks."
Nobody 'wants' to live in social housing, it's physical form is immaterial!
Take one 'ugly' tower block, clean it, repair it, renovate/update the internal layout, put newer faster lifts, have a concierge and better security, don't fill apartments with large families and all of a sudden the building becomes 'desirable'. A more cost effective and sustainable answer to the 'problem'.
Being a Bath graduate of the 'combined' course (but not invited to the event) I believe the course provided exactly what the profession needed of it's architects back then. If it ran today it would still be providing the truly rounded architects that are needed in the C21. The problem with many courses today is that they are run by academics turning out 'artists' rather than architecture students and expecting students to 'pick up' the useful stuff in an office before Part 3. Any architecture course today needs to provide a structure to the knowledge learnt in an office, to provide the tools / skills needed in BIM (all flavours) and to provide experience of true integrated working.
Producing architecture is a team effort, learning to work with engineers and others in a team environment is paramount. Is the Bath course the only one to have done that, surely not?
If the profession wants to produce pointless 'artists' by all means shorten the courses but if the profession wants architects then, if anything, the architecture courses need to be harder and have more content. I'm not particularly impressed by students who cannot read drawings or whose portfolio is full of pretty drawings. The profession needs architects in the Vitruvian sense, and his guidance on the education of an architect is surprisingly relevant, even today, 2000 years later!
Just to play 'devil's advocate': do we actually need more homes? Perhaps we need less people :-)
"Better Homes" is a no brainer. But not necessarily "More Homes", there are plenty of empty and convertible buildings already looking for a use. There are also plenty of dysfunctional existing homes that need to be replaced, often the, too small, new ones :-)
Perhaps buyers aren't buying the housebuilder's output for the simple reason that they are too small to live in.
There isn't really a 'shortage' of housing just a shortage in the South East where companies have, for years, been 'encouraged' to move, by central and local government policies!
Altering those policies to encourage businesses to relocate to where the under employed UK workforce already lives would be more cost effective in reducing the housing 'crisis' in terms of numbers. It would also save billions in terms of 'benefits' and commuting costs.
I had the advantage of studying on the excellent 'thin sandwich' course at Bath University (from 1978), where the first five terms were taken jointly with the structural and services engineering student. I would suggest that a similar 'holistic' and collaborative approach is to be recommended. The overly 'arty' courses are doing the profession a dis-service. Architecture is an even handed mixture of 'art' and 'science'. The advice on the education of an architect given by Vitruvius is still relevant today!
Perhaps the ARB should concentrate on it's principle tasks: maintaining a register of architects and 'protection of title'. Policing the profession, in which most are members of the RIBA with it's own independent disciplinary procedure, would appear to be a tertiary role at best.
Since all chartered members of the RIBA are registered with the ARB, what is the point of us having two codes of conduct and two disciplinary procedures? Surely the ARB procedures should just be for those architects who are not members of the RIBA.
As an architect in the real world, 'resignation' from ARB would mean that I wouldn't be able to call myself a chartered architect and use the letters RIBA. Whereas if I resigned from the RIBA I could still call myself an architect. Do the Maths :-)
There is no reason why the work of the ARB cannot be carried out by the RIBA.
I'm not happy with the increase in registration fee, particularly since it appears that some of the fee goes to prosecuting those criminals who call themselves 'architects' illegally and who threaten my business. If the guilty paid rather than the innocent perhaps there could be a reduction in fee?
Buildings should be required to be designed by those qualified to do so, as in most of the rest of the World, rather than open to all sorts of unqualified architectural 'consultants' and 'designers' who are damaging the profession by association.
Protection of title does nothing to protect the public from self-appointed building designers, many of whom are too incompetent to realise the fact.
Was the 'poll' taken of a 'representative sample' or an actual figure based on the register directly?
As a profession we can only encourage those from a 'minority' to start the course and it would be illegal to discriminate (negatively or positively) any applications for employment. As long as someone is qualified to do the job, can legally work in the UK and can communicate clearly in English I will always choose the one most qualified for the work. Any other aspects of their appearance or background are irrelevant.
However, if only a very small number of 'minorities' take the 'A' levels and degree courses required there will only ever be very few in the profession.
I've always found discrimination in society with such issues as height, weight, left-handedness and age etc! Each on their own are relatively minor irritations of course but.......
The most important aspect in any quest for a value for money reduction in overall project cost, is that of spending the time getting the design right.
This can only be achieved with the design team being involved in the brief formation stage and through contact with end-users throughout the design stage.
The design that meets those needs is then built.
The Government proposal would appear to be a very complicated way of achieving a different conclusion: one that places cheap building as the primary concern and a design that meets the end-users needs as secondary.
There are certainly savings to be made by seeking the advice of specialist sub-contractors early in the process as has been proven. But to demote the design team and meeting the client's requirements to a secondary role cannot provide a 'good design'.
The word 'architect' features only three times in the report and all references are within a text box quoting an architect inferring that use of BIM will increase the profession's fee income (therefore inviting a fee reduction by clients). In actuality any increase in fee will be matched by the greater level of information required (as has been seen previously with the change from drawing board to 2D and from 2D to 3D).
The average architect's income is already derisory in relation to the work expected, reducing fees further can only mean poorer service or lower salaries.
Design fee levels should at least stay the same in order that design time can be spent reducing construction and project costs, which is after all the aim of One Year On!