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Paul McGrath's Comments

  • Comment on: Let's use our influence wisely

    Paul McGrath's comment 15-Jun-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.

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 11-Jun-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".

  • Comment on: 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.

  • Comment on: 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.)

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

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

    Well said sir!

  • Comment on: 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.

  • Comment on: 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!

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 24-Apr-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.

  • Comment on: RIBA moves to scrap Part 3

    Paul McGrath's comment 25-Mar-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.

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 24-Mar-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.

  • Comment on: MIPIM: 10 things we learned

    Paul McGrath's comment 18-Mar-2015 10:44 am

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

  • Comment on: MIPIM: 10 things we learned

    Paul McGrath's comment 18-Mar-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.

  • Comment on: Shuttleworth attacks 'arrogant' and 'egotistical' architects

    Paul McGrath's comment 2-Mar-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.

  • Comment on: Build bridges, not trumpet worn-out stereotypes

    Paul McGrath's comment 2-Mar-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.

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 16-Jan-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.

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 15-Jan-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.

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

    Paul McGrath's comment 6-Mar-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.

  • Comment on: Profession hits out at shake-up of RIBA membership categories

    Paul McGrath's comment 26-Sep-2013 4:41 pm

    If you check the membership of the RIBA, I think you will find there are many 'Honorary Fellowships' of the RIBA who are entitled to use the initials Hon FRIBA after their name who are not registered architects. As far as I know the ARB have chosen not to test the validity of this through the Courts. Therefore, the ARB should surely take a pragmatic view of the affix RIBA with those who have an architectural qualification.

  • Comment on: Profession hits out at shake-up of RIBA membership categories

    Paul McGrath's comment 26-Sep-2013 12:37 pm

    I applaud the RIBA for taking this necessary step. It is long overdue. As a 'qualified' Part 2, having never considered joining the RIBA, I will now be doing so at the first opportunity. Where previously for me at least, 'student' membership had no credence the suggested changes give some recognition for a minimum of 5 years study. Having a post graduate qualification immediately puts you in the top 5% of the population (by qualification) and it has always struck me as ludicrous the architectural profession unlike some other professions, gives no recognition at all to highly qualified graduates who do not go on to register. It is a great shame that a vocal minority of 'registered' architects see this as a loss or a dilution and not an attempt to embrace people who play an important role in the wider architectural profession and in architects offices around the country. This type of protectionism does nothing to prevent the accusation that professions are elitist. This change now gives the non-registered the opportunity to support the profession through meaningful membership of the RIBA and I hope the RIBA will represent the opinions and well being of the non-registered. I assume the ARB will resist the use of the affix Associate RIBA by those who are not on the register and trust the RIBA will be robustly promoting the wider benefits of its decision. Far from confusing the public, this decision will further isolate the truly unqualified from tarnishing the reputation of the architectural profession. When all is said and done, you will still need a very high level of qualification and integrity to join the RIBA and that is what the wider public will clearly understand.

  • Comment on: Profession hits out at shake-up of RIBA membership categories

    Paul McGrath's comment 26-Sep-2013 10:44 am

    I applaud the RIBA for taking this necessary step. It is long overdue. As a 'qualified' Part 2, having never considered joining the RIBA, I will now be doing so at the first opportunity. Where previously for me at least, 'student' membership had no credence the suggested changes give some recognition for a minimum of 5 years study. Having a post graduate qualification immediately puts you in the top 5% of the population (by qualification) and it has always struck me as ludicrous the architectural profession unlike some other professions, gives no recognition at all to highly qualified graduates who do not go on to register. It is a great shame that a vocal minority of 'registered' architects see this as a loss or a dilution and not an attempt to embrace people who play an important role in the wider architectural profession and in architects offices around the country. This type of protectionism does nothing to prevent the accusation that professions are elitist. This change now gives the non-registered the opportunity to support the profession through meaningful membership of the RIBA and I hope the RIBA will represent the opinions and well being of the non-registered. I assume the ARB will resist the use of the affix Associate RIBA by those who are not on the register and trust the RIBA will be robustly promoting the wider benefits of its decision. Far from confusing the public, this decision will further isolate the truly unqualified from tarnishing the reputation of the architectural profession. When all is said and done, you will still need a very high level of qualification and integrity to join the RIBA and that is what the wider public will clearly understand.