The RIBA has announced plans to establish a Register of Conservation Architects, despite protests from Architects Accredited in Building Conservation
The register will enable those looking to commission work on heritage buildings find architects with the specific skills and experience they require, encompassing all aspects of historic building conservation, repair and maintenance.
The RIBA announced that its move was to help ‘Recognise the distinct nature of conservation work, and move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach’.
Ruth Reed, President of the RIBA said: ‘The RIBA is fully committed to the conservation of our historic built environment. In setting up this register, the Institute intends to strengthen the profession’s credibility and standing within conservation; establishing an accessible and progressive system to benefit both architects and those commissioning work on heritage buildings is of significant importance.’
The move has drawn criticism from the UK register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC). Their chairman Elaine Blackett-Ord called it a ‘retrograde step’ and said Reed’s claims were ‘laughable’.
‘There is nothing going on in the RIBA that shows their commitment to conservation architecture. My concern is would they be able to maintain standards? In previous negotiations they showed no commitment to upholding standards [of accreditation]. I’d be sceptical of their long-term commitment’
‘We ran the scheme for five years before it was recognised by English Heritage. That is what the RIBA should be forced to do, rather than poaching our members, which is what they intend to do’.
Other members of the AABC have not been so damning. Adam Bench of Adam Bench Architects said ‘There’s always been criticisms levelled - fair or otherwise - at the AABC that it’s a closed shop. I’ve always thought that it should be run by the RIBA. I welcome it as a move. I think the RIBA are offering very good categories [of accreditation] that would suit a practice like ours’
‘A lot of people feel that the RIBA doesn’t really have much to offer them’, said Robert Dunton of Donald Insall Associates, ‘but there is the feeling that though standards of conservation architecture must be upheld, this could be done by a body other than the AABC’
The Register will operate upon three levels of membership, which also provide an incremental process of accreditation for those who are in the early phases of establishing their careers in building conversation:
- Conservation Registrant (CR): For those working on the repair, maintenance, alteration and refurbishment of heritage buildings, e.g. unlisted buildings in Conservation Areas, locally important historic buildings and the general pre 1919 building stock.
- Conservation Architect (CA): Suitable for those working on Grade II listed buildings, regionally important historic buildings and in sensitive historic environments.
- Specialist Conservation Architect (SCA): For those working on historic buildings of outstanding national importance, such as Grade I and II* listed buildings or scheduled monuments, and with highly specialist skills in one or more aspects of conservation.