Yasmin Shariff is a principal of Dennis Sharp Architects and an elected AAA and RIBA Council member. She was Head of Design with a multi-academy sponsor and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster.
Paul Finch has cut to the core. Instead of facilitating members the RIBA has become autocratic and a gatekeeper. The Doric Club had to fight tooth and nail to get together at Portland Place and as for RIBA-USA the Memorandum of Agreement has become a farce. Council has not even been permitted to hold its own dinner club! Democracy at the RIBA is Orwellian with some Council members on the Board are more equal than others. Elected Council members not on the Board have found it virtually impossible to represent members and had to resort to putting Motions to Council. Stephen is a good architect with a business brain and we will need his skills and commitment to turn around an Institute that has been running a deficit budget and frustrates its members initiatives rather than facilitating them.
We need all the friends we can get but not by snubbing existing members. Setting up the RIBA-USA required great energy and enthusiasm. It is a great shame that a row has broken out at a time when we desperately need to work hard to raise the profile of members and the institute. Members are the life blood of the RIBA and I hope that the new Council will resolve any differences so that the enthusiasm and energy of members is harnessed and not frustrated. Members here and abroad should feel that the RIBA will facilitate and support any initiative relevant to their context and not be an impediment.
Yes we need more homes, lots of them and urgently but this call seems like a cancerous growth of 'urban' extensions. If we upgrade our existing settlements we will not have to spend a fortune on infrastructure and any development fund can be spent on social cohesion projects. What we don't need is coffins for the living dead where housing is provided with plush bathrooms and little social connection. Great for accessing hearses but bereft of places to meet and greet, learn, waltz and work.
Its not just about cities in India- our cities are dehumanising the poor. Poor infrastructure, poor social housing investment, poor space standards and poor design aspirations = poor 2020 vision!
Comment on: Obituary: Paolo Soleri (1919 - 2013)
Soleri's ideas about cities are the solution to today's problems of too much trash, too little energy, too much alienation and isolation. The arcology concept (architecture+ecology) looked as social, economic and environmental issues holistically and in an integrated way. Arcosanti and Cosanti are rooted in the environmental movement of the 60s. The idea of the arcologies were that they were to be energy neutral. The city was fed with greenhouses on the lower slopes so that food and energy could rise and nourish the upper areas. Like enormous termite mounds the city keeps to an ideal temperature for all the workers that inhabit it. Recycling and efficient resource use was also at the heart of the arcology- especially the toilets where if it was yellow you let it mellow and if it was brown you flush it down- an immediate 10 fold saving!!! But it wasn't all about materials there was an equally strong social and spiritual/humanitarian concerns that informed the design. Imagine a city that is so connected that the need for institutional buildings become unnecessary. The power of IT makes it all the more possible and I have no doubt that arcologies are the answer to the urgent need in rapidly urbanising countries. Can Governments/local authorities make this imaginative leap? Paolo was truly inspirational. Building Arcosanti with the income generated from bells is remarkable. It hosts festivals and workshops and has a great real food cafe. He may not have achieved his ambition to build an arcology but he certainly changed the hearts and minds of thousands.