John Kellett's comments
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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!
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?
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.