Paul McGrath's Comments
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.
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.
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!