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Paul McGrath's Comments

  • 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.

  • Comment on: RIBA announces Part 1, 2 and 3 memberships in major shake-up

    Paul McGrath's comment 20-Sep-2013 8:13 am

    Hallelujah!

  • Comment on: Government looks to bring in minimum space standards for homes

    Paul McGrath's comment 21-Aug-2013 12:12 pm

    Whilst creating a level playing field, mandatory minimal space standards do nothing to properly cater for the myriad number of different types of housing occupant. The 'one size fits all' approach cannot ever hope to make a distinction between a student, a retired widow and a gourmet cook. From the rise and rise of the coffee shop it would appear more young people are spending more time eating and drinking in public places than in their own homes yet for a one person home, according to the London Housing Design Guide a kitchen will need to have a counter-top length of over 4m in an area of 6.2m2. This includes providing a four-ring hob, two of which will, in all probability, be totally redundant. Rather than produce original research that details how domestic items such as cookers, are actually used by different types of housing occupant, the RIBA (in their recycled research) accepted uncritically that everyone should be provided with a four-ringing hob regardless. Architects will be reduced to 'façade creators' (if they aren't already) that mask 'kitchen boxes' of a pre-determined size, 'bedroom boxes' of a pre-determined size and 'living room boxes' of a pre-determined size. I guess next on the list is that every home should have at least a 'bedroom' and a 'kitchen/dining/living room' to reinforce the stereotypical view of what a home should be. The focus (for architects) should be on using and designing space efficiently, not blindly providing space so it can be used in the most inefficient way possible. The RIBA should be the one to challenge, examine and explore whether every home needs a washing machine (which in my home is unused for 95% of the time it sits there) and whether the concept of a communal 'launderette' is a good thing for society and the environment. I fully support the AJ's More homes, Better Homes campaign but mandatory minimal space standards seem specifically designed to attack greedy developers rather than make homes more affordable for everyone or better designed for a diverse range of occupants. As with a lot of modern legislation, the blunt instrument of mandatory minimal space standards is bound to have unforeseen consequences. Let's hope they don't make housing even harder to access than it is already with our less than perfect and intransigent delivery mechanisms that are the mass house builders or housing associations that limp architects are powerless to arrest.

  • Comment on: Sometimes you just don't know whether to laugh or cry

    Paul McGrath's comment 11-Nov-2012 3:40 pm

    I am truely honoured that I have elicited a response! My intention was not to smear Mr Finch but to counteract what I see as a one-sided view that pretty much uncritically supports the conventional wisdom of politically powerful lobbies. Always it seems, at the expense of the margins and innovative thnking. I would not like to see the Berkeley Group and Crest Nicholson - even with their 'raised game' - to become the Government's unofficial housing advocate. If anyone is actually interested in the McGrath concept - which I very much doubt as I am just little people - Mr Finch is very welcome to visit some of the 'hovels' I have designed. Then perhaps a more balanced opinion would result. The McGrath concept also puts its money where its mouth is. By purchasing a small, difficult brownfield site and trying to develop it as a home I am contributing to solving the shortage of housing in London (however small that contribution might be) and not taliking about it or using it as a vehicle for personal acclaim. The practical difficulties of doing so are emense. Consequently I would welcome the chance to describe to Mr Finch how difficult it is to actually build an affordable, accessible single house in London bearing in mind that every step of the way someone says no; never mind the myriad number of third party demands infill developments are now forced to comply with by the planning system as if it were a major project before any development can even start securing development funding. All told, it is no wonder London has a deficit in housing supply. It is almost true that a high number of 'hovels' is politically better than a one off house. As every jobbing housing designer out their knows the bigger the project the less scrutiny the 'authorities' seem to place on them. Compare big housing association schemes with say small private domestic extensions; one has a relatviely easy passage the other seems to attract the entire gamut of rules, regulations and standards the Local Authority can throw at it and are put under totally disproportionate scrutiny. Yes the subject is too important to always adopt utilitarian solutions. The AJ's support of better homes should have the support of everyone.

  • Comment on: Sometimes you just don't know whether to laugh or cry

    Paul McGrath's comment 1-Nov-2012 12:21 pm

    Paul Finch clearly moves in rarefied circles where mere morals are few and far between. To support the Berkeley Group and Crest Nicholson and denounce the lowest common denominators of the HBF is a clear bias in favour of the so-called great and the good. Commentator’s are acutely aware of which side their bread is buttered it would appear. If PF were a football commentator he’d only be interested in the Premiership and teams like Accrington Stanley wouldn’t get a look in. Rather than making regulations that maintain the dominance of the ‘big players’, rule makers should seek to encourage innovation and not stifle it at every opportunity. Minimum space standards are a case in point. Look at Japan and the ‘micro-homes’ movement; could that happen in the UK? Not if you follow the logic of Mr Finch it won’t. Is it just coincidence that with more and more regulation, less and less gets built? There is a certain irony that while LA’s are clamping down on illegal garden shed homes architects are suggesting garages could be converted into affordable homes. This suggests the priority is to get people housed in decent well-designed homes rather than arguing how big those homes should be or how energy efficient they are. Having read the Future Homes Commission report it is clear to me the future is with small innovative design led house-builders and not leviathan ‘market leaders’ like the big house builders.

  • Comment on: ‘Desperate’ Part I student advertises her labour on eBay

    Paul McGrath's comment 24-Sep-2012 11:24 am

    Once again the RIBA's commitment to Part 2's and below working in the profession is shown to be trivial. If the 'value' the RIBA attributes to a graduate is only the minimum wage, it effectively gives Chartered Practices (and by example, other practices) permission to exploit highly educated 'students' as a cheap labour source. The RIBA must address the increasing reality that a degree or post-graduate qualification in architecture is virtually worthless without registration. It's high time the RIBA started to think of Part 2 as a destination and not just a stepping stone to other things.

  • Comment on: ‘Desperate’ Part I student advertises her labour on eBay

    Paul McGrath's comment 24-Sep-2012 9:39 am

    Once again the RIBA's commitment to Part 2's and below working in the profession is shown to be trivial. If the 'value' the RIBA attributes to a graduate is only the minimum wage, it effectively gives Chartered Practices (and by example, other practices) permission to exploit highly educated 'students' as a cheap labour source. The RIBA must address the increasing reality that a degree or post-graduate qualification in architecture is virtually worthless without registration. It's high time the RIBA started to think of Part 2 as a destination and not just a stepping stone to other things.

  • Comment on: Industry reaction: ‘Never a good time’ for ARB fee hike

    Paul McGrath's comment 17-Sep-2012 9:41 am

    Describing the ARB as a 'statutory regulator' is wholly wrong. The UK Parliament requires of the ARB to keep a register, prescribe the qualifications needed to become an 'architect' and promote and maintain a code of professional conduct. It does not regulate anything. Its only purpose is to deliver the responsibilities given to it under the Architects Act. All these increasing peripheral 'costs' to being professional must be passed on to the consumer - at least to some extent - so how does this demonstrate to potential clients using an architect will keep fees competitive? In a small but significant way, cost increases like this only serve to put pressure on wage deflation.

  • Comment on: Tom Emerson criticises RIBA for educational divide

    Paul McGrath's comment 6-Jul-2012 4:27 pm

    This is a classic example of the elite of the elite discussing amongst themselves how they could effect changes to the education of an architect without actually doing anything more than talking about doing so. All the arguments for and against are well known and understood; yet nothing changes. It seems the tripartite 'pipeline' is regarded as absolutely sacrosanct. Once registered, anyone seriously questioning it is considered a heretic and soon loses any serious ambitions to challenge the all to easily accepted and cozy orthodoxy. This is just another introverted and decadent academic debate going nowhere.

  • Comment on: The ARB should be abolished

    Paul McGrath's comment 4-Mar-2012 11:27 am

    If the ARB was to be abolished, what would replace it? That needs to be explained by Mr Finch as it is not clear whether he favours continuing the legal protection of the tile of "architect" or abandoning it. Or whether he is advocating the RIBA take over the role of competent authority for the purposes of the Directive and hold the 'register' presuming a register is actually necessary. If the logic is the ARB is abolished only for the RIBA to step in, I would support the original principle of the ARB and its total independence from the RIBA.

  • Comment on: Housing debate: What the UK needs now

    Paul McGrath's comment 27-Feb-2012 1:58 pm

    Not one architect has addressed who meets the cost of raising the bar and increasing standards. Is that because they have no interest in keeping costs down and a vested interest in keeping costs high? It's either the purchaser or the Government that pays in the end and both seem to be treated as limitless sources of money. The clear backing amongst architects (and the propaganda cited in the exhibition) for the introduction of mandatory space standards (and increased costs which is ignored in the exhibition) seems solely based on developers making a profit from housing. If true this seems an ideological stance to adopt not an expedient one. Everyone recognises the aims are laudable but to be credible 'developers' cannot be blamed and vilified. After all, the majority of us want a bigger home to live in given the choice but not everyone can afford it.

  • Comment on: Housing debate: What the UK needs now

    Paul McGrath's comment 27-Feb-2012 10:31 am

    Not one architect has addressed who meets the cost of raising the bar and increasing standards. Is that because they have no interest in keeping costs down and a vested interest in keeping costs high? It's either the purchaser or the Government that pays in the end and both seem to be treated as limitless sources of money. The clear backing amongst architects (and the propaganda cited in the exhibition) for the introduction of mandatory space standards (and increased costs which is ignored in the exhibition) seems solely based on developers making a profit from housing. If true this seems an ideological stance to adopt not an expedient one. Everyone recognises the aims are laudable but to be credible 'developers' cannot be blamed and vilified. After all, the majority of us want a bigger home to live in given the choice but not everyone can afford it.

  • Comment on: UCAS applications for architecture plummet 16 per cent

    Paul McGrath's comment 31-Jan-2012 1:58 pm

    I would guess the drop in numbers is more than compensated by the increase in revenue. So the Schools of Architecture maybe better off financially! It's a great shame that social mobility via education is now in retreat and that higher education institutions are becoming more and more businesslike.

  • Comment on: RIBA’s report on homes is a Gerald Ratner moment, claims property consultant

    Paul McGrath's comment 20-Sep-2011 1:19 pm

    I could not agree more with Mr Leeson that the RIBA should concentrate on how architecture 'adds value' rather than moaning (yet again) at circumstances they think they have a 'right' to 'control'. You would think the RIBA's advisory group would have the intelligence not to bluntly criticize mass housebuilders. The RIBA’s report asks, How much space do we need? It then answers the question based on the obvious preconception of blindly supporting minimum space standards as the solution and in the crudest of terms by rehashing existing research. Everyone would like a larger home wouldn’t they! From my own experience of keeping stuff in my home that I haven’t seen (let alone used) for years is not sufficient reason to provide more storage in new homes! Why build extraordinarily expensive space simply to store old shoes? These are the sorts of questions I would expect the RIBA to address; with creative intelligence. Not that 42% of buyers consider the size of rooms important in their purchasing decisions. Just look at the single page of conclusions and recommendations to see how lacking the RIBA’s report is in creative thinking. This lack of creative leadership is perhaps why politicians are so keen on the sledgehammer of one-size-fits-all space standards. So I for one line up behind Mr Leeson in his call to look at ways in which good design can make the best use of space, rather than focusing on how much space is created.

  • Comment on: 'Shameful shoe-boxes': Yorkshire's new homes smallest in RIBA survey

    Paul McGrath's comment 15-Sep-2011 10:10 am

    The RIBA must believe wholeheartedly in the crudeness of minimum space standards in being so critical of (unimaginative) mass housebuilders. Surely the RIBA - if it believes in creative design - should be much more sophisticated in its response to the sledgehammer of minimum space standards. Much more work must be done on exactly how space is used in modern living and how this is applied to the cross section of the population. A mandatory one-size fits all approach is not the solution to housing choice. The RIBA should be commissioning far better research into space standards. Then any criticism of the mass housebuilders would have some serious weight.

  • Comment on: Villiers Road Studios, London, by Peter Barber Architects

    Paul McGrath's comment 14-Apr-2010 5:41 pm

    It is a great use of space but I worry such innovation will become 'outlawed' by the rumoured 'benchmark standards' from the Homes & Communities Agency. This shows there MUST be room for innovative solutions for small awkward infill sites in urban areas. The heavy hand of legislation should not stifle schemes such as this!

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