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Paul McGrath's comments

  • Social housing activists protest at Stirling Prize ceremony

    Paul McGrath's comment 16 October, 2015 1:00 pm

    I am not a member of ASH, nor do I support the targeting of individual developments for censure but I did protest outside the RIBA last night.

    Having struggled with the ethics of it beforehand, my final reason for peaceful protest (my first ever) was that staying silent is no longer a justifiable position.

    However you cut up the cake of housing, it is always those most hungry that get the smallest slice. I would hope that all architects with a social conscience might expect the RIBA to have a clear policy on the provision of affordable housing and make that known to the powers that be. There would then be no need to protest.

  • Y:Cube by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

    Paul McGrath's comment 8 September, 2015 11:19 am

    Would have been interesting to explore the reasons why "short-stay" accommodation does not have to comply with GLA Space Standards.

    I understand the plan area of the units is 26m2 or nearly 30% smaller than the minimum studio area in the GLA Space standards.

    Consequently, isn't this a superb example of how certain people can live in small spaces if they are well designed?

  • Better homes: Can housebuilders and architects ever see eye to eye?

    Paul McGrath's comment 20 July, 2015 10:15 am

    This article demonstrates how far removed the AJ has become from being the Architects' Journal.

    The real story is who is building and collaborating on the 75% of houses not delivered by the 'Big 3'.

    If the AJ reported on football, nobody outside the top 4 of the Premiership would get much of a look in.

    The "More Homes Better Homes" campaign appears devoid of any in-depth reporting on complicated issues and pushes against an open door.

  • Let's use our influence wisely

    Paul McGrath's comment 15 June, 2015 9:15 am

    Let's hope that great debate is extended to people beyond the small coterie of practices who have a stranglehold on housing policy within the architectural profession.

  • Architects under attack: why the profession stands accused of 'social cleansing'

    Paul McGrath's comment 11 June, 2015 10:48 am

    The symbolism of architects sipping champagne (also not uncommon for AJ staffers) in a moat while people with a democratic right to protest have to shout to make themselves heard says it all about the current state of architects and their "cllients".

  • Superdensity driven by 'frenzy of avarice'

    Paul McGrath's comment 26 May, 2015 11:14 am

    Collectively, the architects who have produced this "report", have a stranglehold on housing and housing policy. So by collaborating is their intention to strangle at birth any alternative view on how our cities are to develop? Or is the intention to pre-empt any future debate? The sincerity of seeking a "review" is also highly questionable as their opinion is absolutely clear. Higher density is wrong.

    Nor is their collective ethical position beyond reproach. These architects also have no hesitation in accepting work from Housing Associations who now appear forced to start acting more and more like commercial property developers. Although architects may be an easy target, the militancy of people's reaction to loosing perfectly good tenancies will increase due to Housing Associations using subsidies from "luxury" flats to build so called, "affordable" housing.

    Calling for policymakers to impose yet more restrictions also smacks of a dictatorial approach. Thank goodness the Government did not accept the argument put forward by the same group of architects for introducing mandatory minimal space standards.

    Someone needs to stand up to this group of practices who are seeking to establish a monopoly of opinions on housing.

  • Holland on Julie's house: 'It is the ultimate decorated shed'

    Paul McGrath's comment 19 May, 2015 1:14 pm

    An abomination of a "house". Totally indulgent. Whimsical in the extreme. Built for a cultural elite obsessed with their own self importance and aggrandisement. An insult to the autonomy of architecture. (But I'm glad it got built.)

  • Readers poll: What is your Building of the Year?

    Paul McGrath's comment 18 May, 2015 6:05 pm

    Well said sir!

  • Stop moaning, the Garden Bridge is fabulous

    Paul McGrath's comment 18 May, 2015 5:32 pm

    In this instance, it would appear Mr Finch is using his platform in the AJ to be gratuitously and deliberately offensive to a small but vociferous gang of what he labels moaners.

    Why? Because we "moaners" have the sheer temerity to voice an opinion. In a democracy!

    What does Mr Finch expect? For us all to meekly to roll over, shut up and acquiesce with the good idea of a minor celebrity and the whims of a star designer no matter what? Stuff the fact that a footbridge east of Tower Bridge is needed more than this one. It's designed by Heatherwick for Heaven's sake! We simply must have it.

    If this country was in any way "fair" such a public proposal would and definitely should have been commissioned by an open competition. Instead we get a fait accompli.

    Like the Olympics, this project has the influential backing of Establishment figures who have the power to raid taxpayer funds at will, when it suits them with the most dubious of justification.

    Mr Finch however, insists this view is just a misunderstanding of what public funds are for! He has failed to grasp even the possibility that this project is an example of all that is wrong with the procurement of public buildings and places.

  • The new government must urgently tackle housing, say expert panel

    Paul McGrath's comment 6 May, 2015 9:28 am

    More talk from 'leading commentators' about the housing crisis. It's action that's needed!

  • The studio is critical, but it's not where all the magic happens

    Paul McGrath's comment 24 April, 2015 3:42 pm

    If you start from a position which most architects who don't win awards would recognise, that as long as an exclusive club that comprises an elite intelligentsia exists, there will always be an unnecessary distinction between competent designers (which most architects undoubtedly are) and those supposedly having an exceptional design flair. The drive and desire to rise above the rest and join that club, starts in the studio. It is also clear, the higher calibre the school of architecture, the better the credentials become for being admitted to the club.

    The self-selected Russell Group of universities to which the Bartlett belongs, decidedly set themselves apart and some would say above other universities. Along with other Russell Group universities the Bartlett could be accused of having no interest in "everyday" architecture (even if it is excellent) and every interest in grooming the exceptional. It is not by accident that a guest presentation by a former student was an RIBA Silver Medal winner. Precisely because it is this type of plaudit that sets one person apart from another. Rightly or wrongly it is a fact of life in education and the wider architectural profession. The false assumption, if there is one, is not that everyone can be brilliant at design but that only a fortunate, favoured few are capable of good design.

    There are a vast number of good architects produced by an excellent education system who never get to exercise their skills to the best of their ability. Due in large part to constraints outside their immediate control or influence. Conditions they have no option other than to work under.

    Nor does the Architects' Journal appear interested in everyday architecture or the opinions of merely competent architects. (Inconsequential comment boxes excepted.) It would appear opinions are only newsworthy if they come from award winning architects or established personalities. Thereby continuing the virtuous circle that started in the studio.

  • RIBA moves to scrap Part 3

    Paul McGrath's comment 25 March, 2015 10:09 am

    The fact is, it is Europe, not the RIBA driving this review. The European dimension to UK architectural education is always downplayed almost to the point of being ignored. Our archaic route to registration has always been out of step with the aim of standardising architectural education across Europe. The anomalies that resulted from the RIBA and the ARB sticking to its guns when challenged on the validity (not content) of Part 3 for years look pretty hollow now following this debate.

    Whether this has any real impact on the ARB remains to be seen. Having looked in detail at architectural education 5 years ago, it was clear then how outdated the single, stepping stone route is/was. The sooner multiple routes to registration come about the better.

  • Council rejects Grafton's contest-winning Kingston University scheme

    Paul McGrath's comment 24 March, 2015 3:38 pm

    Why should a University be exempt from the vagaries of our planning system?

    As anyone who regularly makes planning applications will know, a scheme described as being too big and not in keeping with nearby buildings is a catch-all justification for refusal. That councillor's have invoked position this against its own officers advice shows that planning regardless of policy, is predominantly a political process.

    At least there is some consistency (from Council's) despite the fact that "award-winning" architects - no matter how good - were involved. Who knows (and I don't) the Councillors may even have a point.

  • MIPIM: 10 things we learned

    Paul McGrath's comment 18 March, 2015 10:44 am

    The AJ's subscription must be a bit too high if their journalists now expect haute cuisine on every assignment.

  • MIPIM: 10 things we learned

    Paul McGrath's comment 18 March, 2015 9:41 am

    From what I can see, MIPIM is simply a hedonistic jamboree disguised as a trade show. The I slap your back if you slap mine attitude couldn't be more in evidence. The AJ's oysters and champagne lifestyle continues.

  • Shuttleworth attacks 'arrogant' and 'egotistical' architects

    Paul McGrath's comment 2 March, 2015 9:41 am

    On the day the AJ's editorial staff were sipping champagne in a hotel built for Toffs with blue blood, handing out self-serving awards to budding starchitects, it is not surprising the AJ chooses to publish an implicit defence of the status quo rather than discuss the egalitarian principles behind Ken Shuttleworth's comments.

    In the staid world of architecture and the sniffy politics of publishing, we need people to speak their mind without fear of the consequences. Top marks to Ken for doing so and shaking things up a bit.

    We will no doubt see the awards culture being given wide publicity in the AJ this week. By way of contrast, it would seem the only way the CIBSE Building Performance Awards would get any coverage in the AJ is when a prominent architect makes some observations on the 'arrogant' and 'egotistical' world of some architects. Which of course are immediately condemned by the same self-serving cognoscenti that hands out awards as being "sterotypical" and a "caricature" of architects today.

    Make are a practice that have on the face of it, determinately tried to break the mould of architects calling themselves a variant of My Ego and Associates in an effort to more accurately represent modern practice based on collaboration between disciplines.

  • Build bridges, not trumpet worn-out stereotypes

    Paul McGrath's comment 2 March, 2015 9:39 am

    On the day the AJ's editorial staff were sipping champagne in a hotel built for Toffs with blue blood, handing out self-serving awards to budding starchitects, it is not surprising the AJ chooses to publish an implicit defence of the status quo rather than discuss the egalitarian principles behind Ken Shuttleworth's comments.

    In the staid world of architecture and the sniffy politics of publishing, we need people to speak their mind without fear of the consequences. Top marks to Ken for doing so and shaking things up a bit.

    We will no doubt see the awards culture being given wide publicity in the AJ this week. By way of contrast, it would seem the only way the CIBSE Building Performance Awards would get any coverage in the AJ is when a prominent architect makes some observations on the 'arrogant' and 'egotistical' world of some architects. Which of course are immediately condemned by the same self-serving cognoscenti that hands out awards as being "sterotypical" and a "caricature" of architects today.

    Make are a practice that have on the face of it, determinately tried to break the mould of architects calling themselves a variant of My Ego and Associates in an effort to more accurately represent modern practice based on collaboration between disciplines.

  • Micro-homes: part of the solution or part of the problem?

    Paul McGrath's comment 16 January, 2015 2:31 pm

    As a long term supporter of so-called micro-homes (a nomenclature which is only possible if a minimum benchmark is generally recognised) 37m2 seems rather an arbitrary figure to define the "bottom" considering students live quite happily in self-contained spaces much smaller in area. Of this I have personal experience - not as a student - but as a responsible designer of student accommodation. I have also lived quite contentedly in a self-contained home having a total area (GIA) of 12.5m2 (that I personally designed) for nine years. So I feel well qualified to offer opinions that are based on a whole raft of personal experience that I am able to draw upon when claiming that micro-homes have a role in providing suitable accommodation.

  • Micro-homes: part of the solution or part of the problem?

    Paul McGrath's comment 15 January, 2015 11:01 am

    The key aspect of micro homes is that they should be well designed, so that there are places to store skate boards and provide private indoor and outdoor communal spaces. The big practices that monopolise housing, who sit on committee's and also work for the leading housing associations aren't renowned for "innovative" housing. In truth, UK large mass housing has become somewhat formulaic as the plethora of housing guides demonstrates. It is the small scale architects and developers - like Pocket - who are small enough to be more responsive and astute enough to meet constantly changing demands who are thinking creatively about how to solve the housing crisis.

    There is also the question of who determines what "well designed" micro-housing might look like. Putting that responsibility on the planning system is unlikely to produce constructive conversations with planners around the merits of using space more efficiently.

    Clearly, any architect or developer who wants to "innovate" will in future have their wings clipped by the proposed minimum space standards if they stay in their current form. By using architects creatively to demonstrate to politicians what life could be like at the smaller scale can, Pocket can only be applauded.

  • Last chance to fill out the survey: Should the title of architect be protected?

    Paul McGrath's comment 6 March, 2014 10:47 am

    My view is the role should have 'protection' through educational standards and understandable measures of competency. It is unacceptable that untrained, uneducated people can be regarded by uninformed clients as being similar to highly educated and skilled 'architects'. It is that association which will always threaten to devalue the profession.

    As a Part 2, I am in favour of a system of voluntary registration for all those who practice architecture and have an architectural education. (For example for Part 2's working in offices.) The legal protection of the title of architect however, means little to the wider public and some clients but the role of the architect is still highly respected.

    To my way of thinking, professional credibility has nothing to do with legally enforced titles.

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