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Owen Luder's comments

  • RICS urges new chancellor to slash VAT on refurbishment work

    Owen Luder's comment 18 February, 2020 10:33 am

    In both of my two terms as RIBA President 1981-83 and 1995-97 I was campaigning for the VAT on repairing and renovating existing buildings to be removed - particularly with listed buildings. Even then it was absurd government policy to tax repairs and renovations and make them more expensive when policy should be to encourage repair and retention and not demolition and redevelopment. That applied then and even more now 25 years later. The new Chancellor has the option to put right an absurd political and economic policy. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

  • Architect petitions government over ‘hugely concerning’ office-to-resi conversions

    Owen Luder's comment 5 August, 2019 11:02 pm

    I designed very many 60's and 70's office buildings, many of which are now inevitably redundant as offices due to dramatically changed office requirements. However the basic slab design and structure makes them ideal and viable and for conversion into excellent modern residential buildings. There are no good reasons not to allow automatic approval for the change of use from offices to residential but every good reason for setting minimum standards controlling the size and quality of the flats produced and ensuring the quality of the exterior design is maintained. Several of my early office building - Bromley North and Harrogate for example - have been sensitively converted to flats and are arguably better buildings as a result. Eros House Catford however was allowed to be converted without proper control and the result is a grossly disfigured building with very poor quality flats. The result slum dwellings with extreme complaints from unfortunate occupiers and very adverse press publicity. So change of use permitted development but with conditions to control the size and quality of the flats created and the architectural integrity of the converted building. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

  • Populous Sphere’s giant glowing adverts spark controversy

    Owen Luder's comment 16 July, 2019 10:33 am

    `I played football on the Hackney Marshes. I designed players changing rooms there. Its an activity open space. Can't see how the adverts on the sphere are detrimental to Hackney Marshes. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

  • From Works completes white timber loft conversion in Blackheath

    Owen Luder's comment 5 July, 2019 10:15 am

    Yes overall a nice job that works well but externally the loft extension fits uncomfortably on the roof. Owen Luder

  • RMJM bosses face battle over £7.75m of contested cash from Dubai deal

    Owen Luder's comment 2 May, 2019 9:55 am

    The lesson for UK architects working overseas is to ensure as far as possible you are working under UK law and whatever arrangements you make be sure you understand the potential legal implications of what you are doing and KISS - keep it simple stupid. Owen Luder PPRIBA

  • Notre-Dame: France announces international competition to rebuild spire

    Owen Luder's comment 18 April, 2019 10:14 am

    The Notre-Dame situation reminds me of the half joking, half serious joke line I used in the past when commenting on the battle between restoration or new build. The imaginary response of the chairman of the Planning Committee to Christopher Wren when presenting his classical design for the new St Paul's Cathedral. "Mr Wren. You cannot be serious. Our historic Gothic cathedral is burnt out but the structure survives. It is past of our history. Yet you want to replace it with a classical design. Why can't you rebuild our Gothic Cathedral within the surviving walls? . Mr Wren was given a hard time before he won the argument. The result is we have the present magnificent classical cathedral and not an old St. Paul's in reconstructed Gothic. Who was right? Food for thought with Notre-Dame. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

  • RIBA blasted over failed RSPCA competition

    Owen Luder's comment 4 April, 2019 3:54 pm

    It is difficult to comment without knowing all the details of how this situation arose, and have sympathy for the architects who lost time and money being involved with competition that has been aborted - half way - not by the RIBA - but the client. The RSPCA are a long and well established organisation that reasonably would be expected to have done all their homework on the viability of the development proposed and resolving any planning or transport problems before they embarked on the competition process. It doesn't seem realistic for the RIBA Competitions Department to be expected to check those aspects of a competition unless the potential problems are or should have been reasonably obvious to them when setting up the competition. Or proceeded with caution if the potential promoters were not a well established and efficient business organisation. No doubt lessons will be learnt from this case - perhaps in future including a clause requiring the promoter to compensate entrants if they pull out after the competition has started. As for the general criticism of competitions they have always been welcomed as providing opportunities for younger unknown architects to win competitions and break through to the big time. That still applies. What has happened is that there are too many competitions. There are other less risky ways to get work. Part of the cause of too many competitions may be the RIBA policy to promote competitions widely and pocket the profit made from their role in the process. But also architects can and should limit the number and intensity of competitions they enter as speculative work balanced against projects obtained in other traditional ways like networking and publicity to what they are doing. When I was in practice we always balanced the cost and time of speculative work we could afford the risk involved against that were fee earning projects. How much work time and cost was involved in entering against the value should you win. The old "upside potential against downside risk test. Architects should be very selective on the competitions they enter judge your benefits of winning and the more likely outcome - not winning.. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

  • Historic England hits out at Fosters’ Tulip tourist tower

    Owen Luder's comment 10 December, 2018 11:22 am

    If the Tulip had the bulk of an office building at that height and location I think it would possibly be detrimental in the background to the views of the Tower of London from Tower Bridge but this is a slender finger pointing to the sky so surely this is an over reaction. Owen Luder PPRIBA

  • Are ‘earn and learn’ apprenticeships the future for architectural education?

    Owen Luder's comment 12 November, 2018 11:40 am

    That was how I became a qualified architect. Scholarship to Brixton School of Building (gone) 3 year Junior course in how to Build. Then working in architects office full time and evening studies at the Regent Street Polytechnic. External Intermediate and final examinations at the RIBA and then registered as an architect and accepted as a member of the RIBA. With my background that was the only way I could do it. All that destroyed in making essential anArchitecture university degree degree in the 1960’s. I protested then. Reality has returned at last. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA.

  • Traditionalist Roger Scruton to chair government’s new ‘beauty’ watchdog

    Owen Luder's comment 9 November, 2018 11:38 am

    One of the truest sayings is that a horse designed by a committee is a donkey with five legs, two heads and three tails! A committee to regulate “beauty” is in the same caragory. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

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