Owen Luder's Comments
I remember the fire which destroyed Paxton's original Crystal Palace as a young lad living in South London. The North Tower survived the fire and was a landmark on the horizon until blown up in 1942 as it was considered a landmark for German bombers. While very successful originally, after the end of WW1 it had been in financial difficulties and had to be rescued from bankruptcy. Immediately after the war an international architectural competition was held won by Lanchester & Lodge but fortunately never happened as it was a heavy neo classical design and totally out of character with Paxton's design. When the Crystal Palace as the centre of the 1851 Great Exhibition was dismantled and re-erected on the heights of Norwood the Victorians developed two railway stations to bring the visitors to the Crystal Palace. The upper level station was closed after WW11. I moved to the In the 1960's I lived close by and when the old LCC put the site out for competition I submitted a scheme for a conference and leisure centre. This was abandoned when the then Government decided it should be redeveloped as a the National Exhibition and Conference Centre. At the time I was deeply involved in the Local Amenity Society - The Norwood Society - their planning and architectural advisor and we objected to the Exhibition scheme mainly on the lack of public transport accessabilty to the site. We put on a very successful Local Exhibition "Living with the Palace". The National Exhibition Centre scheme was abandoned and eventually built in Birmingham. Those top terraces have stood empty and lonely since. It is a magnificent site that if it is to be redeveloped should be an icon building that is of this century and not an attempt to re-create Paxton's iron and glass Victorian Crystal Palace. Public Transport acessabilty has improved with the new rail link to Croydon but is still questionable whether a similar size "new" Crystal Palace in whatever form has sufficient public transport facilities to ensure success. I was involved in the consultation in the preparation of the master plan for the whole of the park. and broadly support its objectives. But the "green" part of the park is very large and I do not believe the loss of open parkland is a valid reason to object in principle to redeveloping the top level terraces. But if it is not possible to redevelop it with an iconic building of this century I will be happy to continue to wander nostalgically among the remains of the old Palace taking in the magnificent views and what still remains of the motor racing track with memories of the top driver and cars that raced there in the 30's and the 40's. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA. Past President Norwood Society.
Congratulations Jane. Very Well deserved recognition for a life time dedication to promoting highest standards of design and architecture. Owen Luder CBE Past President RIBA.
I have no problem with architects who design in the classical idiom. If that is what they and their clients want then so be it. But they have an obligation to, and indeed no excuse not to get it right. The principles of classical design are clearly there to follow and apply. Successive generations of architects have interpreted those principles to design to satisfy the requirements of their time. Whether with the classical orders, the Renaissance, Baroque and Georgian the principles that make this architectural "style" so acceptable are, scale, balance, elegance and proportion. I leave your readers to judge how this Knightsbridge proposal meets those principles? Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Victor. I am aware of that and I am well aware that supporters do not want to move from their long term historic venue that is part of their lives. But the present Stamford Bridge is hemmed in with the surrounding 1980's commercial development which would be extremely expensive (unless money is no object) to acquire control and demolish these to enable it to expand from 41,000 to 60,000 that Chelsea as a major European Club needs. This is very much the Arsenal situation where we were faced with a historic stadium limited to 38,000 that no supporter wanted to leave but accepted we had to move and were able develop 60,000 super stadium close by. If Hertzog & de Meuron and the other consultants involved can identify a and acquire a viable development site nearby that will enable Chelsea to move to a 60,000 new super stadium I have no doubt the Chelsea supporter who own Stamford Bridge will agree to be part of the move. Owen Luder
I wish them luck as the exiting stadium is hedged in with a Hotel and other commercial uses that it will be difficult to demolish to make space to redevelop the existing stadium into all covered 60,000 capacity super stadium. Prior to the redevelopment masterminded by Ken Bates the then chairman in the 1980's Stamford Bridge was a very big ground surrounded by a circuit used in the early 19390's for Speedway. When I first went there supporting Arsenal as a lad there was midget car racing and athletics. It was a ground with "elbow room" for expansion to the 60,000 capacity needed for a club of Chelsea's stature. That was lost in Ken Bates redevelopment the funding of which nearly backrupted the club. Now Chelsea probably have to move as Arsenal did in the early 200's when Highbury was to small and could not be extended. When Ken Friar was masterminding the new Emirates Stadium I warned him - remember you are building in Highbury - no hotels. Supporters will always vote against moving from their historic ground but I suspect that Chelsea will need to and hope that the planning study of the surrounding area will throw up an alternative site suitable for the super stadium Chelsea need as it did for Arsenal. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA and author "Sports Stadia after Hillsborough.
Comment on: AJ named Magazine of the Year
I have taken the Architects Journal since I was a student in 1944. I got my first job as a Junior Assistant in an Architects office in 1945 as a result of a student free advertisement in the AJ. Over the years consistently a great magazine covering all as aspects of architecture, architectural practice and the profession. This award confirms what has been its consistency over the years. Owen Luder PPRIBA
ARB seem determined to give those whose campaign for its abolition the ammunition they seek to support their case. To change the rule we established when I was a founder architect member of ARB and its Vice-Chairman that, as with most other organisations there should be a period of grace for architects who - despite warnings of the renewal date - for good reasons or bad had not paid up by December 31st, There will be genuine cases where late payment an be justified. Ill-health, away abroad or just overlooked. It can happen. Not to allow any period of grace is brutal and unnecessary. Who complained that some architects were gaining an advantage by not paying until March? Or was this an internal decision - as was the internal decision to charge and find guilty George Oldham for what was alleged to be an unprofessional statement? ARB could possibly justify reducing the deadline to say a month, but abolish it completely and then charge a reinstatement fee - the costs created by their own decision to strike off - was unreasonable and unnecessary. This with the way ARB have incorrectly and unfairly applied disciplinary procedures makes it difficult for us who believe ARB has a very useful and necessary function working with the RIBA difficult to defend. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA Past Chairman ARB
Terry Farrell lacks vision in ridiculing the concept of a hub airport. He is also compromised - or should be - as he has a vested interest in supporting the opposite approach tacking extra runways on various existing airports as he is involved in promoting an extension at Gatwick. We have the opportunity to create a new hub airport on the Thames Estuary with all the obvious advantages. Take off is over water. Not landing over a heavy populated areas. It will also create the catalyst - as airports always do of development - regeneration and employment to the deprived Eastern side of London regeneration The Western side of London is already congested and over developed. Had Maplin been built in the mid 1960's that regeneration would have happened then. The long term future of Heathrow can be decided when the estuary airport is under way. I suspect it will still have a future as air travel will still be growing and it will be used far less intensively to cater for the continued growth in short haul flights. Or will we lose our nerve and lose the opportunity to solve two long term problems. Restricting the growth of Heathrow in an already over congested part of London and a new hub airport that will not only avoid flights over heavily congested densely residential areas and bring regeneration to where it is still required without creating the problems Heathrow has created for West London. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
You refer to my concern about the changes in membership structure and particular the use of the affix Associate to advanced students who are not fully qualified. When I was told that at the Council meeting that the members in the membership survey had voted for that change - I said they were wrong as they had not thought through the implications. It also depended on how the question was asked. I am afraid the changes are there to increase income, are of doubtful value to the majority of members and most importantly will increase the confusion that already exists with the public as to who are properly and fully qualified architects. Owen Luder PPRIBA Nationally elected Council member.
I have concerns about the use of an affix AssociateRIBA by students who have reached Part 3 stage. Not that they should not have recognition and encouragement but that the use of an affix AssociateRIBA will create uncertainty with the public and be abbreviated to ARIBA which will cause problems and very difficult to monitor. However Council agreed to what it was said was a change supported by members in the membership survey but that depended on the question was phrased and whether members in giving their reply and thought through the implications. However Council has agreed to he use of that as an affix and we should accept that but keep the situation under review. Owen Luder PPRIBA
Comment on: Architects blamed for 'crap towns'
The design of everything that has been built since 1947 has had to be approved by the planning system - usually the locally elected Council members - aided and supported by the planning system operated by planners. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
This is a mess. When the RIBA finances are "tight" and that it seems to me is an understatement, spending money on setting up a parallel fund raising body in the USA without I understand even discussing the possibilities with the existing RIBA/US organisation cannot be sensible. It will be interesting to know how this came about, did the RIBA Board agree to exploring the concept of a new fund raising body were they aware of existence of the existing RIBA/US body? Did they agree the cost of the exercise? When they agreed to the new body were the Board aware of the problems it had created with this existing RIBA/US body? In addition to all that as a Council member I knew nothing of all this and Council were never advised or consulted on firstly what was proposed and secondly that should be approved. This is another example where the RIBA Council elected by the membership to be responsible for such important policy and financial decisions are not only excluded from the decision process but are not even aware as a Council what is being proposed. That situation must be rectified. Owen Luder PPRIBA. Nationally elected Council member.
Comment on: Last chance for Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium
As the judge of the stadia design competition in the 1990's I made the Bon Valley stadium the winner from a very high standard of entries. To see it demolished when the policy is to expand sports appears to be another example of Municipal vandalism and short term thinking. Demolition is not the solution - finding more imaginative uses for an existing facility is. Sadly it seems the imagination and will are missing. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
I disagree totally with George Oldham's attempts to have ARB scrapped. Were he and the other members of the so called "action group" sucessful it is unlikely that its powers would be passed to the RIBA. The claim that ARB was set up as a "minimalist" organisation used by those seeking its abolition is not correct. I was President when the Act was passing through Parliament and the minimalist related to th size of the governing body. The 60 strong Board of Architectural Education was scrapped and the 62 strong ARCUK Council rduced to 15 - with seven lay members. As for ARB owers being reduced the oppoite was the case and the offence of "professional incompetence" added to ARB powers. Those who seek the destruction of ARB are misguided .Self regulation of "protected" professions is not favoured at present forobvious reasons. There would be the great danger of the statutory protection of the title "architect" would be abolished with catastropic consequences for the profession and the RIBA. Who would bother to train as an architect for 5 years when others would be calling themselves architects after short training courses - or with no training at all! Havibg said that the ARB disciplianry process are at times questionable and not properly considered. CertainlyI would support Geoge Oldhm's appeal against what appears to be a flimsey case that should never have been brought against him. Itlooks as though ARB has shot itself in the foot in this case. Owen Luder. RIBA President 1995-97when the Architects Act went through Parliament.
I am so pleased to see the Olympic Stadium on the short list. Before the Hillsborough Disaster in 1990 spotrs stadia facilities and design were appaliing. Hillsbough changed all that and suddenly the quiality of sports stadia design rocketed. When I gave the President's Building of the Year Award in 1996 (replaced the following year with the first Stirling Prize) to the new Huddersfield Stadium the Guardian expressed suprise that a football stadium could get such an award. Basically the same practice designed Arsenal's Emirates Stadium for which they have received insufficient credit for its design qualiy and built on time to budget. Despite the quality of the other contenders I hope the Olympic Stadium (by the same architects) wins as it will demonstrate so clearly to the world the difference architects (working with creative engineers) can acheive in changing what was such a "nobody cares about design" building type into top quality architecture that works and gives great pleasure to those who use it and see it. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA.
It is not elegant. It is not friendly. It has no sublety. Wherever you are over a wide area it grimaces at you over the roof tops or in between buildings at street level. It is over assertive. Has no relation to its surroundings. The regeneration of this area was already under way without this very unfortunate addition to the Thames riverscape and London's skyline. Thjis practice has done and can do far better than this. Owen Luder .
I am not at all sure at the RIBA selectively supporting individual candidates for the ARB elections but I am more concerned with this continuing myth promoted by those that want to reduce ARB's role - some destroy it - that ARB was set up by Parliament as a "mimimalist" organisation compared with its predecessor ARCUK. The opposte is the case. I was the RIBA President reposnsible for steering the Architects Act through Parliament in 1995-7. The objective was to reduce the size of the ACUK Council from 64 to 15 and to remove the 60 strong Board of Architectural education completely. Boards were comprised of representives of a wide number of other organisations some of whom were not over friendly to architects and our protection of title. The effect of that was to give back to the profession control of educaton shared by RIBA and ARB. We had to concede a lay majority on ARB in return for continuation of protection of title. It is overloked that vthe Conservative government atv the time had decided to abolsh ACUK and protection of title and we were only saved by the intervention of the Consumer lobby who saw continuation of protection of title as a protection for clients - particularly the smaller clients - which is why ARB was never intended to be "minimalist" and its responsibilities for regulating "incompetence" as well as professional conduct required it to be a larger and far more effective in regulating conduct than its predecessor ARCUK. ARB may not be perfect and the RIBA needs to ensure it does not go beyond its statutory role and itis fair to architects as well as cients but those who attack it and its role are playing with fire if ARB were to be abolished the baby would go out with the bath water and we would lose protection of title. That would be distasterous for architectural education - who would study for 4 or 5 years to quaify as an architect if anyone could call themselves architects without any qualification or training. Also be disasterous for the RIBA reducing it to no more than a rump as an little more than an academic institution. The RIBA should be supporting those candidates whose policy is to work closely with ARB not destro or disassemble it. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Comment on: Government unveils 55 new free school projects
Ironic isn't it? The Brixton School of Building was a famous vocational school specialising in theoretical and practical building and construction. I was there for a three year Junior course from 1942 - 45. The educational reformers in the early 60's first made it part of the South Bank Polytechnic which subsequently became South Bank University. The vocational aspect was soon lost and in time the building school disappeared. Years later we have realised the mistakes that vocational training is not second class to academic and we need people who are best at using their hands and can have a sucessfull life without an academic degree. So Aylesbury, Burnley Daventry and Southwark are to have Schools of Building. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Mark Leeson is not quite correct when he says the selling price for housing is based on number of bedrooms. At the upper end of the housing market both flats and expensive houses a major factor in setting the selling price is the floor area being provided. However that housing is unlikely to be classified as shoe boxes! While I support the RIBA being involved positively in creating a public debate to improve mass housing design to concentrate only on size ignores other important issues which make so many spec housing estates so dismal in architectural and environmental design. Also it does not promote our unique skill as architects to maximise creatively the use of three dimensional space. And to allieniate such an important section of the industry and so many architects clients is a high risk strategy. Good at attracting headlines and getting emphatic media coverage but I suspect a lot of architects working on low and middle income housing will be feeling uncomfortable with the headllines the RIBA created. The alternative is to work for improvement within the house building industry and with government to raise the standards of housing and not to attack house bulders so publicly. The reason I guess why members of the RIBA Housing Committee have resigned. Yes there are restricted sites over developed with too many very small houses. But my concern with much of mass spec housing to argue for improving the architectural design and the quality of the environment created on dismal housing estates. Floor area is just one factor. The biggest houses are not necessarily the best. The smallest not necessarily the worst. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA
Comment on: PRP reveals Myatts Field community hub and park
I have a particular interest in this area as I lived close to Myatts Fields during the war when In was attending the Brixton School of Building and after the war in my early days of my first marraige. It was always a very nice area in which to live and should now be even better with these proposals. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA