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Plan of Work 2013 face-off: ACA hits outs at ditching of stages A-L

The Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) has accused the RIBA of ‘cosying up to contractors’ in its revamped Plan of Work

Representing the ACA at a debate entitled ‘The RIBA Plan of Work: if it ain’t broke why fix it?’, Alfred Munkenbeck of Munkenbeck+Partners said the RIBA’s reworked plan, which integrates with the Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) work stages, was a mistake and further weakened the role of the architect.

Munkenbeck locked horns with Dale Sinclair from Dyer, the author of the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 at the event on Wednesday (9 January) which looked at the forthcoming changes to a programme which has remained largely untouched for 50 years. According to the RIBA, the new plan aims to form part of a ‘unified industry structure’ supported by the CIC.

Munkenbeck said: ‘My gripe is not that the RIBA is co-ordinating their approach with other bodies, my gripe is that the RIBA has abandoned essential points of their Plan of Work in their rush to cosy up to the contracting industry which has replaced architects in the leadership role, just as they did with their ill-fated appointment document.’

The RIBA has abandoned essential points of their Plan of Work in the rush to cosy up to contractors

He argued that the RIBA’s adoption of the CIC numbering systems would result in an ‘interdisciplinary scrum’ adding ‘this will rarely produce architecture as such which is what the RIBA is supposed to be promoting as its primary function’.

Dale Sinclair described the changes as an ‘evolution not a revolution’ and a move from ‘the analogue to the digital’.

Sinclair said: ‘We have waited too long before changing the Plan of Work and now we are having to address much more. It seems like a radical change, but it isn’t.’

There was support for the move to incorporate a Stage 0 addressing the work architects do with clients to develop the brief. This stage allows for feasibility studies to be carried out which will develop the final brief before what was known before as Stage A, now Stage 1.

It is not the Plan of Work that is broken. It is the profession.

Paul Fletcher of small practice Through Architecture commented: ‘It is not the Plan of Work that is broken. It is the profession - we transfix ourselves on the ego of architecture. The new Plan of Work allows clients to understand how a project works and this is fundamental to the new Stage 0.’

Sue Johnson of Paul Davis and Partners added: ‘Throughout the industry there are different perceptions of what Stages C and D are. This is a key problem. This is where fees can get lost. If engineers and other consultants come in late architects can end up doing things twice and co-ordinating things too late.’

But former Association of Consulting Architects (ACA) president Brian Waters raised concern saying: ‘It is very complicated and complex and there is a lot of good thinking behind the new Plan of Work but I am a long way off being convinced that the ordinary client can understand it.’

The debate closed with a majority in favour of the new Plan of Work, with support for bringing the profession more up to date.

The Plan of Work 2013 is due to launch in May 2013.

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