Comment on: Libeskind and AIA join RIBA Israel row
it was inevitable that the AIA would disagree with this motion, the US government and the country's extremely powerful Jewish lobby being staunch supporters of any action the Israeli government chooses to do, no matter how inhumane or repressive in its purpose. Israel once (i.e.for a decade or so post 1967) had the support of the world in its endeavours to defend itself and its borders, but in recent years successive Israeli governments have consciously elected to alienate people previously sympathetic to its position, and I include myself in this latter group. Extremism of any sort - and building illegally on Palestinian land is difficult to consider as anything other than a direct provocation to a displaced and disenfranchised people - is hardly conducive to conflict resolution and an unlikely basis for any negotiations to prosper that might lead to peace in the region. Whilst not a member, I fully support the RIBA's position on this as it is important that our fellow architects in Israel - and their representative Association - understand the disquiet felt by many of their peers around the world at the involvement of some of their colleagues in the entirely unnecessary land grab being carried out as part of their government's policy. it is not a question of the RIBA or the UIA being able to influence world events - it is whether we as architects wish to retain any moral or ethical stance or whether we are happy to accede to the excesses of some of our fellow professionals because we are too spineless to tell them they are out of order. As Edmund Burke famously said, "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" and in this instance I would add that this is not the complicated issue that some would suggest: it is simply a question of whether or not involvement in building these settlements is likely to be conducive to future peace in the Middle East. The architects working on these projects are at least - in their own, and some would say perverse, way - being honest with themselves: they are willingly engaging in a dangerous political act and appear to be entirely content about the difficulties being placed in the way of long term peace in the region by their actions. For I and many other architects around the world not to speak out against such extreme behaviour is to be nothing less than complicit in these activities.
Comment on: RIBA opens pension plan for architects
At long last the RIBA is proposing something of genuine value to its members. The suggestion of an architects' bank (as they have in Spain) has to be the next obvious step since so many small practices have and will continue to have - difficulty in obtaining finance at affordable rates and terms from the existing banking system. Peter Morris seems to miss the obvious point when criticising this initiative that in trying to improve the financial security of its members, the RIBA is also helping to create the circumstances in which it is actually possible to conceive and deliver better buildings. I note Peter doesn't offer a plan for how the latter might otherwise be achieved - just a whinge about his interpretation of the RIBA's remit which, in its offering of a genuine benefit to the bulk of its members, he strangely finds reason to disagree with. Over the years I've not found myself to be a great fan of the Institute and the inconsequential witterings of its endlessly self-reconstituting Councils but this is undoubtedly the kind of proposition that gives practising registered architects a sound reason to be(come) a member. For once, therefore, well done to Andy Munro for being on the ball and looking creatively outside of the Portland Place box to find a genuinely valuable way of supporting the vast majority of RIBA members.
If I'm not mistaken, ARB - without any pre-announcement that I am aware of - arbitrarily moved the registration date forward by a month (it used to be the end of January each year) so it's little wonder such a high number of architects have found themselves caught out. Quite apart from banking the registration fees a month earlier than usual, the £65 penalty to re-register does not suggest a proportionate charge - it indicates ARB's cost structure is way out of line and needs to be reined in. High time to move this organisation - if it is needed at all - out of its expensive central London eyrie.