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kevin toner's comments

  • Who should be taught in the architectural canon?

    kevin toner's comment 26 July, 2013 8:46 pm

    When I was at the Mac this kind of stuff (viz. ‘who’ or ‘what’ should be taught) was left up to the students to read up on, i.e. via a booklist: e.g. Frampton's Modern Architecture: a Critical History.

    When a tutor/lecturer talks with the same language (conviction) as in these literary works, it’s time for either: the student (training architect) to choose a different course provider; or for the course to be invalidated/un-prescribed by the RIBA/ARB.

    Dissemination/debriefing from the lectern, studio &/or crit-space shouldn't involve too many syllables/letters per word per sentence. I was lucky in getting exactly this, excepting one part time studio tutor whom I didn’t mind.

    If I didn't read up*, then my loss!

    If conversely - for instance in the language to be found in this article, which I hope and trust is specifically reader orientated jargon - was ever to be found in class, i.e. regurgitating, substituting or even supplementing that expected to be found in booklist textbooks, students wouldn’t then bother to read or absorb important critical awareness within actual architecture discourse on their own account/accord.

    Discourse simply provides hymn-sheets for all of us to make what we will of it. Students shouldn’t ever be distracted/de-railed from this quite adequate resource – a good booklist and library suffices.

    This frees up the teacher to teach: a good thing these days given the increased admin duties etc. Students are at school to learn, not there to clone the teachers scripted understanding or knowledge! They are not apprentices of budding or would-be theorists/discourse-makers.

    The RIBA/ARB should again not be accrediting/prescribing this type of training/schooling for architects. A Masters, Diploma, PgDip, MSc, etc. is fine to support for this kind of education, but it must not be confused with the BArch and DipArch awards that are ascribed as actual architects’ qualifications, but instead as research courses.

    Where dissemination does take the form of such jargon it simply replaces actual teaching time on a genuine BArch/DipArch course.

    I therefore disagree with the sentiment behind the quoted passages that ‘teachers should pass on their understanding of discourse with conviction’. Passing on knowledge of discourse in terms of references is fine, but nothing much more to promote/maintain the learning faculties of potential architects?

    A teacher’s own understanding of discourse, even where tremendously scholarly, should quite simply not come between that of a developing architect’s.

    It looks like the RIBA/ARB now have to seriously see where this kind of - research orientated - teaching is present and disassociate it with the accredited architecture degree/diploma for architects.

    I’m sure this has already happened to an extent (given the breadth of courses that schools are now beginning to offer) in recent times. There’s obviously a market for research based architecture, but again, the profession of architecture must understand what courses are developing 1) architects & 2) researchers. I’d help them differentiate if my fees weren’t so high (£50/hr)!

    * The irony is IMO that for a better grasp of architecture discourse and theory, the best thing is to be schooled as an architect rather than as an architecture academic/researcher. That said, a developing architect can easily forgo any academic prowess at his/her disposal, whereas a developing academic/researcher can’t, unless of course it’s their motive is to be architects getting in through the back door of an accredited architecture course in disguise.

    RIBA give me a call: £50/hr will get things sorted out across the country; £150 if you want me abroad too!

    ps: I'd have edited this, but Friday night calls!

  • In pictures: Fire breaks out on Foster's Glasgow 'Hydro' arena

    kevin toner's comment 10 June, 2013 9:27 pm

    I can add to this as a snap happy observer of the structure merely hours before the incident, incidentally.

    The latest photo on my way home from the Govan Fair on my latest photoalbum revealed its calm nightly setting at dusk, despite being driven 'furiously' past it over the traffic-lighted ‘Squinty Bridge', hence the camera-shake, onto the Broomielaw (yes, the road where the "Fast & the Furious 6" stunt filming was shot earlier in the year: figures).

    My photoalbum focussed on metals (as a theme) so an apt collection of new and old delights in the material over the course of 2 nights.

    see here http://photos.kevinscotttoner.co.uk/#!album-88

    A little earlier, on my way to the Govan Fair from North of the River Clyde on foot, running, I also made sure to snap a reciprocal shot of the Hydro, looking back at the 'Squinty Bridge’ in a panorama shot among a slowly growing context of iconic metal structures etc.

    Stopping to get these shots meant that I had to run non-stop between shots - as mapped here http://goo.gl/maps/GomJU - to catch the unveiling of the reconditioned Sir William Pearce statue (aka the Black Man) scheduled for 7.45pm, before a subsequent Parade kick-off, another enjoyable journey. Let’s call the run ‘The Black Man Challenge”, a veritable 10th of a marathon over a 30min period... One for the GSA foundation course Freshers perhaps!

    Enjoy the photos, there’re fire brigades in mines too!

    Here’s a shortcut though straight to the panorama focussing on the Hydro from a distance http://photos.kevinscotttoner.co.uk/#!album-88-252 among other distance shots of 1) Zaha’s ‘Riverside’ Museum with shipyard cranage and a Glenlee all in silhouette; and 2) a special 32x zoom shot of the Millennium Tower from Pacific Dr.

    Who knows, maybe the Hydro shots could even provide a clue in the investigation!

    Particularly the second last photo, which incidentally [it’d just dawned on me] is preceded by a shot of a ‘parading’ fire engine, probably one of the fire-fighting engines as photographed on this AJ article; the other omen being that the actual Hyrdro shot shows the tangent point at the eaves-line where the fire occurred [wait for it] in the foreground of a little bit of available red sky !

    ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s [or sailor’s] delight’

  • The profession's future under review: Farrell launches call for evidence

    kevin toner's comment 5 June, 2013 12:26 pm

    Commendations on the clarity of the presentation and content!

    Of further interest would be the following pasted link on Scotland's 'architecture & placemaking policy' review, which bears some similarities to this review for the DCMS. Consultation responses, which ended last September, are available from here. Perhaps some cross-fertilisation will be called for too, later, at the end of the day in the formation of actual policies. If so, then it might be worthwhile for there to be full UK-wide participation on the Farrell Review, especially where important issues might not have been caught in the Scottish consultation.


    Furthermore, one might wish to consult the very recent CITB ‘Construction Skills Strategy for 2012-2017’, which replaces that of 2006-2011. This was the result of a UK-Wide industry and professional body based consultation conducted by Pye-Tait and can be found below. The Scottish A&PP consultation may have been too early to take cognisance of this equally very thorough work.


  • Don't blame the planners for planning decision madness

    kevin toner's comment 11 May, 2013 10:10 pm

    Contrary to what you've hinted Paul, Scots Planning Policy, maybe not alone, appears to me to for once introduce the importance of demolition to the heritage professional, even although demolition isn't really an obvious principle of conservation, yet! A reminder that redevelopment is as much a branch of heritage as is conservation... Perhaps E&W ought to come up to speed if it hasn't already through NPPF (?). Such enlightenment might influence the impression of what constitutes protection in WHSs... That said, when push comes to shove, e.g. in Glasgow, not a WHS, when a developer recently said 'let’s redevelop Thomson's Egyptian Halls via SHEP' cold feet set in, naturally.

    Here’s a thought though on perhaps some lateral thinking:

    e.g. Wouldn't a Section 75 (or 106) regulation for such very real conservation plights that neighbour any proposed viable and sustainable redevelopment/enhancement be a possible device...

    ‘Planning Obligations’ as such, if apportioned accordingly, should actually benefit a redevelopment, i.e. be in a redevelopment’s interests. Conservation plights aren't merely LBs (often very complex endeavours) but can presumably be any kind of environmental improvement of variable magnitude...

    Such ethics are already a key in all architects’ Code of Conducts; let’s start applying them for a change, i.e. professionalism. The profession must utilise, not fight, the planning system. It shouldn't be about heritage bodies Vs developers. Architects should easily be able to steer or conclude on conservation/development properly without too much destined confrontation, as an extremely erudite* lot. Design-review-panels shouldn't have to really steer too much, to help unravel muddles.

    It does help though if we've been reading you Paul through the years, theory-wise in the AR and no less profession-wise as I read now... Long may readers confide! Some heritage experts would even concur with a lot of what you say here. There appears to be a blindfold of regulation and custom that can often prevent common sense or propriety from prevailing!

    I myself charge 2k/hour to help sort, but as a child (jobless architectural assistant) who should be seen and not heard there’s not much I can do about it!

    (apologies: unedited!)

  • Yasmin Shariff compares women in architecture to other professions

    kevin toner's comment 12 February, 2013 11:11 am


    A little more social engineering on the Part 3 allocation front can help to redress the balance as per my short hypothesis on Christine Murray’s current Column article, later in the thread.

    Conversely, would it be equally incorruptible if gender ‘equality’ was to ensue in household and paternal/maternal responsibility and authority; and dare I say: in preferential custody over children (?) It would surely promote equalities elsewhere were it ever commonplace and not so romantic. In an earlier comment I mocked swapping this around to help speed change.

    “...babes in Arms...”

    Contrary to the horror stories you’ll hear here from women, parenting babies cannot be recommended enough, especially to males for a change... babes sleep twice as long as adults.


    Getting real, architectural business - unlike law, medicine and rocket science etc. - must support a much higher percentage of privileged over meritorious livelihoods due to the nature in how we qualify from our architectural education. Architecture Qualies in essence are perhaps as much bought as earned, e.g. mainstream passes are churned out at the expense of fails: a student has to be more often exceptional to earn the right to fail and re-sit in order to really interrogate weaknesses. Think how many more crashes we’d have if the DVLA didn't properly exercise failing, and we were to regulate our own fails.

    Perhaps therefore also at the root of pay inequality [traditionally speaking] might be this: ‘the privileged’ willing to accept less [pay] among ‘the meritorious’ irrespectively of gender, not necessarily irrespective of social class and standing, naturally. This may help explain Yasmin’s confusion mid-way through her 14th para (albeit in this instance: a married female with rich relatives who may be nevertheless meritorious). I understand the frustration for quick fixes to inequality given that social change doesn't occur overnight. A ‘quick-fix’ approach might work in the legal or medical [but not architecture] profession as it’s easier to assume that it’s meritous pay at stake!

    But let’s dispel some myths on the way to social change:

    Yes it’s been easier to tag females as privileged rather than meritorious because they’re still relatively newish to the industry, yet on the contrary it can be argued that qualities are more likely to be honed in the face of challenge and no less by females confronting social change: a previous female prime minister might be too good an example.

    ‘Merit’ and ‘privilege’ are neither gender-associative. Presumably an architect has one or the other, or both, unless needs neither through posterity!

    In the face of a recession [of unpredictable duration] is perhaps this for architectural business:

    Less need to pay for merit, hence [unaffordable] quality staff being expected to move on (reading from Derek Sharp, 1986) rather than being maintained, or asked back ‘as there’ll always be a quality stream in the waiting’, and that looks set to continue notwithstanding a drop in course applications.

    ‘Privileged’ rather than ‘meritorious’ staff are therefore more likely to retain their jobs during a recession, ironically with perhaps a pay rise.

    How fairly the non-white-hetero-male can fit into this culture must depend on what Jane Duncan (a newly appointed diversity & quality champion for RIBA) can do on their behalf. Good luck Jane.

    The problem is perhaps that we fool ourselves into such schemes; and that maybe the cure is to fool ourselves out of them. Who's up for it?

    ps: again, would it be wishful thinking to have the likes of de Botton's and Bryson's views (?) Art is perhaps best for current societal exposés, until whenever advanced sociology textbooks become popular, accessible and understandable... If AJ comments had ‘likes/dislikes’ like the BBC then we could gauge how risqué it would be to ask for AdeB's or BB's views. If 500 dislikes: then no need to ask further about the truth; but if 500 likes: then a need to hear more!

  • No more excuses: we demand equal pay for women in architecture, says Christine Murray

    kevin toner's comment 10 February, 2013 10:11 pm

    My apologies Yasmin, I picked you up wrong on the 21% statistic. I hadn't realised that you'd been referring to the female gender rather than - as I'd presumed - 'architects in general' dropping their pay to win work.


    21/79 female to male registrants is very revealing, when probably 50/50 are graduating with architecture qualifications.

    Why the imbalance? Are females naturally happier to be assistants rather than architects? Do they opt to devote energies elsewhere after graduating?

    Has the Part 3 final entry test exclusion been a factor? If so, then imagine this short hypothesis to set things straight: i.e. if practices could temporarily exclude more males than females from Part 3, e.g. 1 male for every 2 or more females, until ARB says the balance is restored.

    I wonder if the registrant ratio anomaly signifies any relationship to the ‘pay equality’ issue. If so, then how and why!

    Aren't societal issues, like the mockery on my initial post, relevant to an understanding of ‘inequality’ (its origins and impetuses), i.e. to have confidence in deploring them or in how they should be engineered out - or not?

  • No more excuses: we demand equal pay for women in architecture, says Christine Murray

    kevin toner's comment 10 February, 2013 0:18 am

    Maybe these statistics are the result of an over-revered profession that too many want to belong to. Lawyers and medics are naturally exclusive to those with half a brain. Architects may be anything from brainless to brainy enough inter alia to get others [assistants with architecture qualifications in the UK] to do the actual work. These statistics therefore aren't really surprising... Architecture is a naturally collaborative enterprise that is open as much to dunces as the highly intelligent.

  • No more excuses: we demand equal pay for women in architecture, says Christine Murray

    kevin toner's comment 7 February, 2013 8:19 pm

    Great that many offices are maintaining livelihoods at all costs during the recession, whatever the discriminations might be. A bigger issue must be that it needs to do this feat on a fairer basis - for instance so that no capable person/s are left searching for career leads over the best part of a decade, if they opt like me not to give up on searching for leads. I’ll of course embarrassingly plod on applying anyway for architectural jobs for as long as possible. Whether I can continue to pay professional subs for equally long will depend on how badly the welfare cuts are going to be.

    Right, it’s off my chest now! Back to my quiet self again: the non-despairing one that farcically lives off JSA to pay a raft of other livelihoods beyond my means. Good luck girls in getting your fair share!

  • No more excuses: we demand equal pay for women in architecture, says Christine Murray

    kevin toner's comment 7 February, 2013 7:05 pm

    More to get more off my chest!

    Again hypothetically and jokingly, regarding my reciprocal discrimination scenario, if I weren't to become an architect’s househusband, spouse-less due to my shyness, then I’d quite happily accept a smaller salary as a dying (or resurgent) breed of worker.

    I'd accept either-or in a flash rather than having to claim much more unemployment benefit than I already have (almost 4.5 years since real permanent architectural employment), or should I say 7 months officially, i.e. from the date that the DWP refused to pay a week's benefit to me over unintentionally missing an adviser appointment with “...no good cause...” according to a recent tribunal over my appeal. And BTW that was incidentally a female judge who’d judged wrongly!

    How about having a meritocracy - rather than a kakistocracy - of gays, guys, gals, blacks, whites, rich, poor,... etc.?

    The principle of livelihood is quite simply coming before that of capabilities. Let’s indeed try to stop the rot RIBA or at least expose it for consultation: not forgetting there’s been over a century of how the anomaly has been dealt with in the past – let’s examine the history and facts transparently before a future generation (or dark ages) beats us to it!

  • No more excuses: we demand equal pay for women in architecture, says Christine Murray

    kevin toner's comment 7 February, 2013 5:13 pm

    here's the missing part of the URL, which wouldn't paste:


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