John Kellett's Comments
Robert, An example of objective bad design would be the very large traditional sash window into a small bathroom (apparently clear glazed) as featured in project seen in the "3 Classicists" exhibition or perhaps cedar cladding 10 storeys up in the air as is quite 'fashionable' at the moment! Town-planners and conservation officers insisting on repeating a bad detail just because it's 'historic' or insisting that 'in keeping' means 'copying' are other examples.
I'm really not certain about "expert opinion should be moderated by democratic principles". Expert opinion should always be 'informed' or 'respect' those 'democratic principles' but the most popular solution is often not the best! Architectural ideologies and styles (subjective) are different. Most are valid and continue to fall in and out of favour throughout history. Bad design (objective), no matter how much it may be 'desired' by the un-informed and design-illiterate, should never be tolerated. Especially as a result of moderation by democratic principles! The problem in a democratic society is, of course, to be able to differentiate between the subjective and the objective.
Comment on: Architect fined £3,000 for ‘incompetence’
Having read the ARB's report it appears that in the case of an 'architect's certificate' the profession's duties have become untenable. Even a 24/7 presence on site could not prevent the Contractor 'pulling a fast one'. It would be interesting to know whether the contractor, who was clearly in the wrong for cheating, suffered any penalty. Let's hope the legal profession do not transfer this onerous duty to the normal JCT inspections etc. If I believed in conspiracy theories I would say that this ruling is designed to keep architects off site and further erode our role in construction. The ARB must provide the profession with further explanation and perhaps guidance, although that may be beyond it's remit. It was supposed to be just a registration body! We have a perfectly capable professional body for dealing with professional conduct in the RIBA, have they been asked to consider the case? How, and why, did the ARB expand it's function to that of 'OffArch'?
Comment on: Part II activist abandons ARB high court action
This is an issue that requires input from Europe and a investigation into the Architect's Directive. As I understand it, persons qualified in Europe to the equivalent of Part 2 can register with ARB here as architects. Persons qualified here require Part 3 to register with ARB. That is plainly inequitable. RIBA membership, "the gold standard", requires Part 3 regardless of where one qualified and is, I understand, regarded highly around the world. A two tier system would be silly and insupportable, there is no reason for the Architect's Directive not to raise the level of 'qualification' across Europe to that of Part 3 or equivalence.
Comment on: RIBA minimum wage ‘shameful’ says Archaos
Surely it is illegal under UK law to employ students and not pay them. Whether you are an RIBA Chartered Practice or not is immaterial. Voluntary work is for the 'not for profit' charity sector or 'work experience' for school-children only. The US unpaid 'internship' model is not valid in the UK (or indeed anywhere). Any architect or practice paying staff (student or not) less than the minimum wage should be stuck off and challenged in court. The majority of Part 1 and Part 2 students provide valuable work, in fact they wouldn't be employed if they didn't! If the profession's business model relies on an underpaid or illegal workforce it is in a sorry state indeed.
It would be helpful to see what the original facade detail and appearance was. As it is the building might as well be new, the interest lies in the re-organisation of the plan and facades.
Comment on: Cable attacks ‘bizarre’ planning rules
Simply restricting local authority powers to town planning (geography, economics and infrastructure) matters and preventing them from interfering in the design of individual buildings would be a start. Requiring all applications to be by suitably qualified agents (CIAT, RICS, RIBA/ARB) would also help, as in many countries outside the UK. Both are simple to legislate for and would increase local authority efficiencies.
Comment on: RIBA: Architects must adapt or perish
If 'gentlemen architects' stopped undercutting those of us who need to make a living the profession can perhaps return to it's holistic role. At the moment the smaller the fee the less we can do for the money. Earnings are already pitiful and improved efficiency through BIM can only go so far. A change is also required in terms of Indemnity Insurance to allow architects to more easily grow a multi-disciplinary architect-led practice.
As a small practice I cannot afford to enter competitions, I don't have the funds or an independent income. It takes most of my waking hours to keep financially afloat after the impact of the incompetence of bankers. Competitions give clients the impression that design is free, PFI + BSF are prime examples. If a building is designed in full by several teams / practices, each losing team / practice has to recover costs on other jobs. If community groups, formed as result of Localism and The Big Society, are expecting free advice without the prospect of a commission, or for the commission to subsequently go to another practice or plan-drawer the profession has no future as a source of income. The way forward is a form of protection function as in other countries and professions. The government has given, or has plans to give, all sorts of job functions protection by qualification and registration, even dog walking! Surely architecture and the built environment, for humans, is more important to society than animals.
Comment on: Award-winning Aedas BSF school to close
So the school was never needed in the first place then! It's construction wastefully diverted funds away from the hundreds of State, CofE and RC schools that do need replacing, whose funding has been axed. Why not use the building to replace out of date schools in the area?
Surely these are meaningless statistics without some account of the volume of projects 'in progress'. There are probably 144 projects 'on hold' in my home town! What are the criteria for a 'project'? To have 144 projects out of 144 on hold is serious. To have 144 projects on hold out of 1,440,000 is not serious! It would be more helpful for the statistic to be expressed as a percentage of projects on hold, perhaps defined by sector or size too. As it stands the reported information is meaningless.
Comment on: Localism Bill: urgent clarification needed
"pro-bono opportunities for architects"? Working for free isn't an opportunity it is exploitation, unless there are enforceable requirements for the architect to be paid for the work at a later date at a sensible fee. I fail to understand why we should provide our services for free in order for somebody else to make a profit. It's hard enough as it is with ridiculously low fee levels for the work we are required to provide.
Comment on: Survey shows worrying lack of BIM awareness
Not quite tongue in cheek because I truly hope that I'm not the only architect using full BIM in the County of Northamptonshire. There are only about 100 architects and a significant proportion of those work outside the County! Despite the additional work early on I am finding that there is an improvement in productivity and efficiency overall. The link between NBS and VWA/ArchiCad is useful too. The trick is not to produce information that looks like it's imitating a 2D Cad drawing that is imitating a pen drawing imitating a pencil drawing! Neither am I wasting time in Photoshop or Excel.
Comment on: Survey shows worrying lack of BIM awareness
That doesn't surprise me at all. Even with skills in the BIM capabilities in ArchiCad and Vectorworks I found it impossible to find work when 'credit crunched'. My own new small practice uses the full BIM capabilities of vectorworks. I know of no other practice in the county using full BIM!
The other side of the argument is of course that groups of householders will grant themselves permission for very large ugly extensions. I can also imagine a group of agricultural landowners making a tidy profit out of redefining their own land as 'development land'. It will be interesting to see how a 'neighbourhood community' is defined! From what we know at the moment it doesn't look as if the idea / policy has been thought through fully. Why not just fast-track applications that meet policy and/or are by 'approved agents' (ARB/RIBA, CIAT RICS etc) to allow planners to concentrate on the badly presented / non-conforming to policy applications? Just a thought.
Whilst architectural education appears to concentrate on the "delight" to the detriment of "firmness" and "commodity" there will always be a shortfall in knowledge, which has to be gained in practice. Educationalists need to decide whether they are training professionals or artists! The European requirement to allow anyone with Part 2 (or equivalent) to practice as an architect sets entry to the profession at a lower level than is acceptable. The RIBA's "gold standard" of Chartered status is at risk. Protection of function could perhaps provide the protection of the consumer by permitting 'registered architects' and other building designers to have design control over a limited range of building types / project sizes. Chartered architects with Part 3 Chartered Practices having to be used for larger non-domestic projects. Many countries operate similar systems. How about: Part 1 = artist / building designer (small projects + unlisted) = RICS / CIAT equivalence Part 2 = registered architect (up to medium scale non-complex projects + unlisted) = Euro architect equivalence Part 3 = professional chartered architect (all projects including listed) = RIBA "gold standard" By no means is that the only answer but the anomaly needs to be openly discussed and a solution found.
Comment on: Councils to set own planning fees
When many Local Authorities do not have RTPI qualified case officers and even fewer have conservation officers with architectural or planning qualifications it should be difficult to justify. Every applicant should expect every submission to be dealt with by a fully qualified town-planner. Will architects, and their clients, be permitted to counter-charge for incompetence and time wasted on matters that are not town-planning matters? Will "agents" be vetted such that application submitted by RIBA / TRPI / CIAT / RICS / ARB professionals are 'fast-tracked' for a lower fee?
Comment on: Universal PQQ mooted to reduce bid burden
Why not have an even simpler system, RIBA Chartered Practice status? From my experience over the years any chartered architect is capable of designing any public building, it's one of the many things we are trained and qualified to do. Many local authorities appoint a variety of under-qualified consultants to design buildings etc. I've known estate agents and contractors to be appointed as urban designers and conservation consultants, without any visible qualifications whatsoever!
Certified v. registered: Surely it makes more sense for 'registered architect' to refer to those with EU levels of qualification (RIBA part 2) and 'Chartered architect' to those with the higher RIBA part 3 level of qualification. The RIBA does of course cater for members with Part 1 and 2 as well as 3. Perhaps the ARB can then concentrate on the real abuses of title, the unqualified 'architectural designers' and 'architectural consultants', who mislead the public and usually provide a much inferior service. Bring on protection of function, whereby only those suitably qualified are permitted to design buildings, or parts of buildings (Chartered Structural / Services Engineers, Chartered Building Surveyors, Chartered Technologists, Registered Architects and Chartered Architects).
Comment on: MPs vote to treble tuition fees
It all depends on what is required of an architectural education. To spend a year on 'tools of the trade', a year on 'Law and Practice Management' and two years 'design studio' would appear to omit: History, aesthetics, surveying, conservation, structures, sustainability, project management, cost estimating, environmental services, construction methods, brief-taking and development etc. The current RIBA curriculum is, in my opinion, a minimum to be achieved not an excessive requirement. I've witnessed 'Part Ones' with First Class Honours degrees who have been unable to read drawings correctly! Architecture as a profession is becoming more complex to embrace holistically, to cut course lengths would be seriously misguided. A greater concentration on the important issues and greater efficiency in the educational process would be useful. Besides, with the profession in the state it's in, it will be years before any graduate is in a job, let alone earning over £21,000!
Comment on: Love it or hate it, Zaha pushes the boundaries
Commodification of architecture? I think Mark Brearley may be missing the accepted definition of architecture: 'firmness', 'commodity' and 'delight'; with all 3 being equal. To specialise in 'delight' produces buildings as sculpture, to specialise in 'firmness' produces just buildings. To my mind a building is only a work of architecture if it is buildable, meets the brief and looks good. I remain to be convinced that Zaha Haidid's work meets each Vitruvian principle in equal measure. It's very sculptural but does it function any the better for it?
Comment on: Get ready for a scary ride on the double-dipper
If the practices going under are those that favour unsustainable bids and employ cheap labour then I am not too concerned. Those of us who have never been glorified graphic designers and exterior decorators can get a look in again! I, for one, have never not 'embraced' project management, planning applications and production information etc as well as having continually 'upped' my skills in all areas. There will only be a 'double-dip' recession for the profession if the media talk us into one. There is more than enough architectural design to be done, we just need to ensure that it is architects doing it, not politicians or 'consultants'! I am fed up with architects getting the blame for badly designed buildings that were designed by non-architects and committees. To make ends meet I have often had to 'draw up' dreadful schemes designed by non-architects! In my opinion the numerous new small practices, including my own, can only be sustainably successful by growing into larger multi-disciplinary practices and the sooner mine gets there the better.
Comment on: Free-school pioneer attacks architects again
Toby Young: How to lose friends and alienate people!
The 1976 Building Regulations were just as you describe, they were concise, legible and less open to interpretation. In fact the Building Regulations still are well written, it is the approved documents that are contradictory, wooly and open to interpretation. To use an analogy. There are many ways to skin a cat but to only go into detail about how to do it with a pair of scissors seems a bit odd.
I seem to have stirred up a bit of a hornets nest. The training of a Chartered Technologist or Chartered Surveyor is shorter than that of an architect. Design, aesthetic or otherwise, is a smaller part of the curriculum. Therefore both are less qualified than architects to design buildings. Simples. It is the unqualified designers, surveyors, technicians and architectural consultants that are the major concern. The client has very little protection from them and it is the unqualified who are undercutting our fees, and offering a poor service, for even quite large buildings now. Our profession still suffers through association. How often do you hear that an architect has done a bad job, only to discover that the business or person concerned was not qualified or registered. The RIBA, ARB and government need to be informing the general public better. Only then can we hope to be able to offer clients a cost effective service and make a sensible profit, just like every other business.
Comment on: Ex-architect falsified doctors’ notes
Robert Lindsay is not an 'architect'. If not registered he could be an 'architectural consultant' or perhaps 'architectural designer'. The use of the word 'architect' is not relevant when the person concerned was evicted from the profession for fraud 12 years ago. The use of 'quotes' is also pointless! "Architectural consultant falsified doctors' notes" would be a more correct and helpful headline.
I am not sure that revising the Approved Documents "to be self-contained practical guidance on compliant typical construction details for less complex projects and processes without reliance on third party documentation" is such a good idea. As architects / chartered technologists / chartered building surveyors we should be more than capable of detailing buildings to meet the Building Regulation requirements. To provide an easy option for the untrained and unqualified to design buildings seems insane, there is enough incompetent construction detailing and design without the need to promote it! My local authority planning website is full of unbuildable, non-functioning and ugly projects that receive planning permission. Heaven help the poor client when the construction drawings are prepared!
Is it possible to use the various requirements of the 'Professional Codes' of the ARB and RIBA to reprimand or expel members/practices for working at fees levels that cannot allow them to provide a professional service? It could clearly be seen as a measure to protect the 'consumer' of our services. At the moment I am submitting fee quotes that allow me to do the work properly, with not much success. If I bid at a lower level which prevents me carrying out the work professionally I will be bankrupt very quickly. It is frustrating that the RIBA seems to be invisible to the general public in promoting the creation of architecture by architects. A requirement in law that buildings are designed by persons qualified so to do would help! Chartered Technologists and Chartered Surveyors are of course at least partially qualified to design buildings and many do a fine job. However, lot of the architect's traditional clients are using unqualified and untrained persons and businesses for even quite large buildings which is denying the profession of a substantial amount of work.
Comment on: Villages gain right to build homes
The principal reason for there being a lack of affordable housing in rural areas is the planning system and outdated policies. The solution is not to circumvent the whole issue but to correct the policies and planning systems that are at fault. The purpose of town planning is to determine what goes where most effectively in order to achieve that objectives of the community as a whole. Too much time is being spent by LPAs 'determining' applications on the basis of detailed design and appearance subjects most know very little about. Is there research to indicate the minimum and maximum population sizes required for various community facilities? Only then can objective policies be set for rural communities. Under the currently proposed scheme there is a huge danger of self-appointed community leaders achieving a power they should not have. The 'cure' would be far worse than the 'illness'!
It would appear from the RIAI and BAI responses that the problem with the ad was the reference to non-architect providers of architectural services being untrustworthy. They might be more untrustworthy in the fact there is no guarantee of having any qualifications, training or Code of Professional Conduct to abide by. If the ad had used a phrase like "only architects registered with whoever are entitled to call themselves architects and have the relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience to design buildings from inception to completion" they might have stood a better chance". Technologists please note the careful positioning of the word 'and'!!!!
I think I can give Flora a few pointers for/on/to her concerns about the future of the profession and architectural education: 1] As I understand it ARB only require foreign architects to possess the BSc/BA and Masters level of education to enter the profession. Only in the UK is there a requirement for Part 3, a professional level of examination in business and contractual matters. It is achieving the Part 3 level of education that makes British architects useful! Any old 'artist' can design a building, it usually takes an architect to make it one that satisfies Firmness, Commodity and Delight in equal measure. 2] The reason Mr + Mrs Public don't use architects is because non-architects tell them we are expensive and then charge them the earth and take them to the cleaners! 3] When Mr + Mrs Public employ a 'plan drawer' who calls himself an architect, provides them with a badly designed home / extension and rips them off, it is architects who get the blame and the bad press. John Poulson being a prime example! The ARB really ought to be doing the job it was created for, preventing such charlatans from mis-leading the public! 4] If it was a requirement that buildings were designed by competent and qualified persons (in say the Canadian way) there would be plenty of employment opportunities for architects and technologists. 5] As an employer I would hope that an ability to design buildings with an understanding of structural engineering and building services, besides presenting well, is a base level expectation from a Part 1 student. I would expect any post part 3 architectural graduate to be able to read drawings, understand construction methods and detailing. I would also expect them to have a knowledge of briefing, procurement, contract law and business management. If that sounds optimistic it shouldn't, that was the extent of the education I and many others received at Bath. 6] An architectural education is one that gives the graduate very broad and transferable skills. It is employers outside the profession that are slow in accepting that fact! As a profession we need to wake up to the fact that we can regain a professional standing within the community by being architects with a holistic view of creating good architectural design. To continue in a desire to be specialists in only the 'Delight' of the tree Vitruvian principles is a serious error.
EH and, increasingly, many other clients are now requiring 'accreditation' in conservation architecture; even for unlisted buildings outside Conservation Areas. RIAS members can gain accreditation through the RIAS. RIAI members can gain accreditation through the RIAI and RICS members can gain accreditation through the RICS. It is therefore reasonable, as an RIBA member to expect to be able to gain accreditation through he RIBA. Now that, after 3 years of discussion, the AABC has failed to reach an agreement with the RIBA it is only right that the RIBA form a Register for members (and others) who prefer to be accredited through the professional body rather than through a private company. The RIBA is governed by elected members (RIBA Council) and therefore the RIBA register will be accountable to the profession as a whole. The concept of accreditation may be regrettable but is a fact of life. I myself find it bizarre that no qualifications at all are required in law to design a hospital (perhaps the most complex building type) yet to work with listed buildings (often very simple in design and construction) one is being required to be a qualified architect with exhaustive experience. It is knowledge, skills and ability that are important, not experience. Experience is only one way of demonstrating that one has the relevant knowledge, skills and ability.
And I thought it was just me with that experience (in the past)! Perhaps the future will be better, with 'quality-over-quantity' being shown to be the more sustainable way forward. Mind you, as one of the new recession born practices, I'm still waiting :-)
Comment on: RIBA launch 'independent' review of ARB
The phrase "all architects must be registered" is not ridiculous. It is a statement of fact resulting from the Architects Act. What is ridiculous is a situation where unqualified people are allowed to design buildings, it's no different to allowing hospital porters (with years of medical experience) carry out the functions of a doctor. Architectural technologists are qualified to deal with some of the technical aspects of designing buildings (as are structural engineers and services engineers, etc) and to continue the medical theme nurses are permitted to carry out some medical tasks. Protecting the public from unqualified providers of 'architectural services' can only be done by restricting function to members of the appropriate professional body (RIBA or CIAT or RICS or ICE or CIBSE etc) as is the case in many other fields of human activity and parts of the world.
I would love to design only 'low carbon' buildings but.... Most architects are commissioned to design buildings for clients and to that client's brief. If the client doesn't want a 'sustainable' / 'low carbon' building then we have no way of forcing them to. We can only 'suggest' and 'advise'. I am in no position to turn down work that is not sustainable in the current climate, and I suspect many practices are in the same situation.
Comment on: Vaizey: We will keep CABE but ARB must go
The RIAI 'regulates' architects in Ireland, why not the RIBA / RIAS in the UK? The important thing is to require, under legislation, that designers of buildings are appropriately qualified and registered (RIBA or CIAT? or RICS?). Only then will the public and businesses be protected against cowboy 'architectural consultants' and technicians / surveyors with no design qualifications.
Comment on: Prince Charles' RIBA speech: Full text
You could have at least used a spell-checker before releasing the text. I don't recall Prince Charles having an american accent!