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RIBA education award winner slams standard of UK teaching

The winner of the Annie Spink Award for the best architectural educator, announced last night (6 December) has hit out at the standards of architectural education in the UK.

Dalibor Vesely, who has taught at Cambridge University and the Architectural Association, told the AJ that there are major problems in the way the discipline is taught up and down the country.

'Today is dominated by things that I think are dead end,' he said. 'We are now turning everything into digital art; architects are not expected to draw. It's desperate across the board when people can't imagine anything 3D themselves.

'This approach is promoted from government down, from RAEs (Research Assessment Exercises) down. Recognition goes to people doing acoustics etc. but not architecture itself.

'Departments such as Columbia in New York are very proud of turning architecture into non-paper architecture. But students are secretly going back to drawing.'

Vesely was also ambivalent about the award itself, which is presented once every two years, alongside the annual RIBA President's Medals for the best student work.

'I am very neutral about this,' Vesely told the AJ. 'The whole sequence has been so strange. I have been shortlisted three-to-four times before and I stopped thinking about it.'

Dismissing the idea that the award should go to an individual, when teaching was about groups of people, Vesely said: 'Most of the work I have done was under Alvin Boyarsky at the AA and, in the late '70s and '80s with Sandy Wilson at Cambridge.

'They created a situation where architecture as architecture was possible. Now it is not possible again - it is building science,' Dalibor added.

For extensive coverage of the President's Medals, see this week's AJ.

by Ruth Slavid

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