John Kellett's Comments
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!