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Atticus 's comments

  • Climate activists, former president and diversity champions run for RIBA council

    Atticus 's comment 9 July, 2020 12:17 pm

    Climatic change occurs in both regular cycles and by erratic change due to cosmic events. Global political instability and finite resources threaten our energy and other sources. We have to design for all of this. However, I am neither a believer nor denier of man's influence on climate change, because no matter how hard I try I have not been able to find empirical evidence that man's carbon consumption has a significant effect on global climate change. Everything I read is debunked by science, the precedent of ancient history or is simply the vehicle for ulterior political motives. To conflate "Climate Change" with man's carbon footprint seems incorrect due to the lack of empirical evidence. The UN has been debunked on this. Co-incidence is not adequate proof. Can someone direct me to the empirical evidence.

  • Rogers Stirk Harbour submits South Kensington station plans

    Atticus 's comment 2 July, 2020 3:54 pm

    A simple and superb modern rendition of the neighbouring buildings. Beautifully composed urban design.
    A shame that Peter Reece felt the need to push for swoops and whoops, bananas, ghurkins, 10 storey privet hedges and telephone handsets in the city. An excess of dexterity and "look at me" can be a bad thing.

  • EPR housing scheme in Barnet draws more than 900 objections

    Atticus 's comment 23 June, 2020 6:08 pm

    Irrespective of the points above, good luck EPR in Barnett. The worst Planning Authority I've ever dealt with for a multiple apartment scheme. The officers didn't know their own policies, the statisticians thought they had enough sites allocated and we proved they didn't, and the valuers used advertised prices, ie inflated, rather than sold prices to prove the case for social housing. Total shambles that took a successful appeal to do their work for them.

  • Architects excluded from housing quality board

    Atticus 's comment 28 May, 2020 10:31 am

    It would be good to see a body that has successfully delivered quality on the panel, like the Peabody Trust. Did the dopy RIBA even know this was being assembled?

  • Architects excluded from housing quality board

    Atticus 's comment 28 May, 2020 10:25 am

    Oops, I followed the logic and forgot to mention design. Quality is obviously to do with eliminating technical defects, leashold scams, gazumping and instituting more policing by the excessively conservative NHBC who are fundamentally a policing organisation that has failed to police its subjects competently and allowed lots of defects through because all it does is ensure it isn't responsible for anything and the tab for defects is picked up by someone else.

  • Architects excluded from housing quality board

    Atticus 's comment 28 May, 2020 10:20 am

    The perpetrators take complete control of the asylum, with new fluffy guidelines of "principles of independence, transparency and integrity". That'll be the day.

  • Insurance hikes of as much as 800 per cent hit architects hard

    Atticus 's comment 18 May, 2020 5:15 pm

    Ha! Paul Finch. I perhaps used words ambiguously. By "controlling authority" I meant architects taking on responsibility without the means to control what they are responsible for. ie, without the authority to control, hence "controlling authority". I didn't mean the Building control officer or approved inspector.

  • Insurance hikes of as much as 800 per cent hit architects hard

    Atticus 's comment 15 May, 2020 11:53 am

    Apologies for length, but this stems from wide reaching issues within the industry. Our PI has trebled without any claims in 10 years. The main reason I was told is that Lloyds underwriters have lost money over several years now on their overall business. They were told by Lloyds administrators to look at their client profile and address the biggest risk sectors or even remove them. Construction was one of the worst. I detect a "take it or leave it" approach, enhanced by failures of cladding, fire strategy, basements and swimming pools in basements and undertaking responsibility for these without controlling authority or often adequate skill. Doing these upped our premium. In the insurers panic to categorise these items and cost each separately we couldn't get clarity. Our policy cost more if we said we do "cladding". I qualified that by saying in the industry a few boards or a cavity brick wall outer skin is often called "cladding". I couldn't get greater clarity on what cladding meant so our policy went up. Others may find a wide definition of what cladding is may enable insurers to get out of liability if they hit the courts. The ambiguity and carelessness regarding responsibilities on Grenfell and probably many other less publicised projects, where architects take on responsibilities (liabilities) without authority over them is one of two significant factors. I once refused to remove waterproofing from our drawings for a basement and the contractor said he wouldn't work with us again because "we weren't a D & B contractors type of architect" That was on a large office building where we were novated. He didn't install it and it leaked. The other factor is the competence of many architects. The first is down to exercising intelligence and care with appointments and not taking on onerous responsibility to win a project, in the hope that the worst won't happen. The second is down to technical ability. On the whole Universities treat technical training as something someone else can do later. I detect a kind of snobbish aversion to the blue collar side of things. We see many newly qualified architects who cannot even competently detail a dog kennel when they qualify, and nearly all 35 year olds who don't know the difference between or purpose of a vapour barrier and breather membrane, let alone the movement of moisture through a facade. This is appalling and significantly contributes to the mess the industry is in. Re insurance, this happened in the early 1980's when big insurers withdrew and The Wren was set up so that insurance would always be available. That is potentially a good model if it could somehow be carried down to smaller practices. Its limitation of over zealous appointment conditions is admirable (it also shows how reckless non-Wren practices take on over zealous conditions when the Wren rejects appointments that those others take on). However, its a mutual and the practices are the underwriters, so a serious vetting competence and a minimum turnover requirement had to be imposed.

  • Profession faces PI insurance ‘horror story’ over fire risk, architect warns

    Atticus 's comment 23 March, 2020 10:44 am

    Lloyds has lost money consistently for several years. thechair of Lloyds has told the underwriters to get a grip on it. to do this they look at their worst business, construction being the most dominant. They are effectively pulling out because they see construction as a very badly organised industry, creating great risk. Self regulation in constructoin will not work. It never does. The only way forward is legislation to promote competence. A start would be creating competence in architecture course graduates. It has become fashionable over the last 30 years to devalue construction technologies importance in training. Graduates come out knowing a lot of what isn't important and not knowing 80% of what is. Time for a change. As an example, out of 35 3-5 years qualified architects I've interviewed, none could describe where a vapour barrier should go and what it does. So what hope is there for the complexities of basements and fire?

  • Why architects can’t work from home

    Atticus 's comment 14 March, 2020 2:11 pm

    AJ, Why not do a piece on all the IT tools that people use to enable this, with some good research and comment on how good or bad and what short comings, for architects?

  • ‘Architects don’t approve drawings’: Studio E associate denies signing off cladding

    Atticus 's comment 6 March, 2020 7:18 pm

    "seek to ensure" is a poor version of "make reasonable endeavours", ie its not an absolute like ensure on its own would be, which is often an impossibility. In the context here it was almost a fit for purpose clause, which should never be accepted.

  • ‘Architects don’t approve drawings’: Studio E associate denies signing off cladding

    Atticus 's comment 6 March, 2020 6:49 pm

    Robert, its very easy. You put "we do not approve, we only comment, and it remains the design contractor/subcontractor's responsibility to complete and / or amend as necessary the design intent to meet the specification and relevant legislation and standards, etc, etc.". And you make sure this doesn't kick back at you if you are novated. And reference it on every submittal you comment on. This is a precis, more to it than that. There are some clauses in the JCT and RIBA contracts that may conflict or overide this and this has to be clarified. And train staff to understand this, because Part III courses don't. Just as Part 1 & 2 don't teach enough fundamental Building Science and construction technology skill. Quote Richard Saxon, ex BDP Chairman and BCO Chairman "Students seem to leave University without 80% of the real world knowledge needed to be an architect".

  • ‘Architects don’t approve drawings’: Studio E associate denies signing off cladding

    Atticus 's comment 6 March, 2020 11:23 am

    Without wishing to judge without knowing the full circumstances, a very salient matter is raised here. "Architecture is the second oldest profession"....I see so many architects bowing to pressure to sign agreements they know they shouldn't, that they don't even have the ability to fulfil, often because they think they will secure the job and they get away with it and the worst will not happen to them. But sometimes it does. Their bullying clients are morally equally, if not more, responsible, but in law they have shed liability and the need for skill from themselves, to the party who is most likely to have PI running the longest. The lower down the food chain one is, the more the pressure to secede integrity. Time for the profession to stand up and be counted, and to understand the nuances of contract. PI has rocketed this year because insurers have lost faith in the profession.

  • RIBA awards shake-up: buildings will have to meet green criteria

    Atticus 's comment 2 March, 2020 2:52 pm

    The Uk currently produces 1.4% of global co2. China 30%. China is not going to reduce that significantly in the foreseeable future. Therefore instead of solely concentrating on emissions, the awards should also include resilience, if this is to be anything other than a flagelation of capitalism by the left. The jury is also out on the extent of the influence of man. I'm neither a believer nor denier in the co2 effect, as there's good scientific evidence for both out there and with embeded agendas on both sides its hard to get to the truth, so lets not close the discussion down by saying "the science is decided". It isn't.

  • BDP defends International Women’s Day event criticised as too male-focused

    Atticus 's comment 22 February, 2020 10:26 am

    If a (heterosexual 9 to 5 everyday white) man is in a forest with the nearest woman 100miles away, is he still wrong? BDP you’re playing with dynamite even going near this topic.

  • Proctor & Matthews’ phase 2 of Urban Splash modular new town approved

    Atticus 's comment 17 February, 2020 2:31 pm

    Really nice overall plan as always by P&M

  • Sadiq Khan calls on minister to reject Foster + Partners’ Tulip appeal

    Atticus 's comment 7 February, 2020 11:34 am

    Sadiq who?

  • Roger Scruton dies of cancer, aged 75

    Atticus 's comment 19 January, 2020 2:54 pm

    I totally agree with Robert Adam, even though I am at the other end of the architectural spectrum (mostly). Scruton was a brilliant man, with a view contrary to the Bauhaus driven dogmas popular today, that by their functional-rational logic are so constrained within their vision by the dogmas they’ve built their working model around, that they just can’t see beyond it to the need for things that their immune system rejects as frivolous. Once you’ve assumed that and that becomes your working model, with so much woo around it, then anyone who puts forward a different hypothesis becomes guilty merely by association. And so it was with Scruton. Like trying to say god doesn’t exist to the Pope. God exists in a world of blind faith within the Popes belief system, just as modernism exists as the only answer within the belief system of the modernist. And worryingly as CO2 exists as the only demon to be faced in the Climate Change debate.
    If you rule out other assumptions by this narrow vision you will stop looking for them. And thus the search for true humanitarian design, which should always be trying to be humane, becomes lost to blinkered dogma and incapable of achieving that goal. Why "modern" architecture has never really achieved "humane" architecture, particularly at the larger scale and in urban design.

  • Architects react to Tory landslide election victory: ‘Our country is left in tatters’

    Atticus 's comment 15 December, 2019 6:47 pm

    Oh dear, it brings all the cosy socialists out of the closet, especially Piers and Kate.
    If you believe working class people voted Tory because they're hapless dupes with no agency, taken in by the tabloid press, and now the Tories will "punish the poor" and sell off the NHS to Donald Trump, it's you who's taken in by carefully crafted propaganda messages. You're the gullible ones. They played right into your conceited belief that you are smarter and morally superior than the rest of us.
    When voters looked at Corbyn's Labour they saw a party that had abandoned them in favour of well off middle class progressives like you and adolescents too young to remember the stagnation of socialism. A predatory party playing on the ignorance of the young and the greed of the self-entitled. That is an affront to the British work ethic and innate sense of fairness.
    Labour lost because they deserved to lose.
    Britain was never going to vote for a far left prospectus because we are not a nation of serfs waiting to be rescued by our betters and we aren't so easily bribed with our own money.
    The left will continue to lose elections for as long as they hold ordinary people in contempt and patronise them, believing they are entitled to the votes of the working class.
    To say working class Tory voters are turkeys voting for Christmas is the very essence of that losing arrogance. Brits aren't stupid. They know free stuff from the government comes with a price tag. If you haven't worked that out, you're the gullible one. Get over yourself.

  • Architects react to Tory landslide election victory: ‘Our country is left in tatters’

    Atticus 's comment 13 December, 2019 10:25 am

    Its a democracy, the London luvy set bubble has been popped. Take a cold shower and reflect on that. And better still go tour the rest of the UK and see how badly your naïve idealism goes down. Then burrow down to the real cause of our financial demise, and learn up about the mercantile warfare China is waging against the west to de-industrialise us and take intellectual property rights. That will be the big one next time around. If you don't there will be even less produced in the UK, creating less wealth for private sector construction and less tax income for the public sector.

  • Charles Holland gets green light for Kent school art centre

    Atticus 's comment 29 November, 2019 11:26 am

    Shades of Asplunds Woodland Chapel and Tallum Pavillion. Good to have a quirky eccentric around who provokes us out of our featureless minimalism.

  • Lancaster Uni launches ‘radical’ new school for activist architects

    Atticus 's comment 27 October, 2019 2:33 pm

    It would be a radical move to teach them some basic construction knowledge so that they are competent enough to earn a decent wage when they leave. After interviewing at least 30 architects over the past 8 years I have only met 2 who could describe what a vapour barrier is and where it goes. That's an indictment on an inadequate education system.

  • Former RIBA president joins call to revoke Boris’s fellowship

    Atticus 's comment 30 September, 2019 9:24 am

    I can't think of a bigger waste of time than getting embroiled in this. Its just time wasting by the left leaning London Bubble members of the profession. I'd far rather the RIBA got on with promoting the benefits of employing an architect rather than raising this honour that's unknown in the public eye into that arena, which could end up embroiling the next presidency just like the pointlessly distracting Africa debacle embroiled Hodder's. However, let it be a lesson for the future: don't give honours to politicians, its too controversial and their standing can rapidly change, and is irrelevant to the health and prospects of the profession.

  • As it happened: the AJ’s report from the Climate Strike protests

    Atticus 's comment 20 September, 2019 10:41 pm

    To all the school kids going on 'strike' for Climate Change:
    You are the first generation who have required air-conditioning in every classroom.
    You want TV in every room and your classes are all computerised.
    You spend all day and night on electronic devices.
    More than ever, you don't walk or ride bikes to school but arrive in caravans of private cars that choke local roads and worsen rush hour traffic.
    You are the biggest consumers of manufactured goods ever and update perfectly good expensive luxury items to stay trendy,
    Your entertainment comes from electric devices.
    Furthermore, the people driving your protests are the same people who insist on artificially inflating the population growth through immigration, which increases the need for energy, manufacturing and transport.
    The more people we have, the more forest and bushland we clear and more of the environment is destroyed.
    How about this...
    Tell your teachers to switch off the air-con.
    Walk or ride to school. Switch off your devices and read a book.
    Make a sandwich instead of buying manufactured fast food.
    No, none of this will happen because you are selfish, badly educated, virtue signalling little 'princesses', inspired by the adults around you who crave a feeling of having a 'noble cause' while they indulge themselves in Western luxury and unprecedented quality of life.
    Wake up, grow up and learn to research facts and think for yourself and not blindly accept the words and thoughts of others - I don't think you formulated this action plan all by your self - suspect you may have had some influence and 'guidance' from those you trust ....a word of warning, be cautious of the influence of the 'left' because there may be a time in the future that you will be the ones left out...

  • Amin Taha wins appeal against Clerkenwell Close demolition order

    Atticus 's comment 15 August, 2019 10:54 am

    Alan Powers, did you not notice that the rough faces on the stonework have to be taken off and made smooth, being judged intrusive by the inspector. So an innovative design, which like many of Taha's is not for repeating, but as a stand alone is quirky and representative of our culture, has to be neutered because it is judged too dominant. I detect "dominant" as a euphemism for "offends a minority". In an open society some will always be offended, and they have to learn to deal with it. The planning system is becoming too intolerant and imposing mediocrity in its drive for blancmange solutions.

  • Climate strike backed by RIBA president and UK Green Building Council

    Atticus 's comment 14 August, 2019 6:25 pm

    Well said MacKenzie Architects. I an no denier, but nobody has produced the evidence other than a simplistic opinion that because the planet is currently changing at the same time as we kick out more carbon, the one must cause the other. Like if you walked down a street at the same time as a murder you must have done it. In the panic to virtue signal with the sheeple the increasing overwhelming SCIENTIFIC evidence is missed, namely that non-manmade events create most of climate change, if not all. The extent to which man is contributing is unknown. The evidence is that we should be concentrating on adapting to cope with the unavoidable rather than self flagellatingly following a cult. If you doubt me, investigate the effect of sunspot cycles, the c27000 year precession of the earths axis, and meteor/asteroid impact effects. Particularly the Younger Drias and Burckle Crater events. And on youtube, Randall Carlson and Piers Corbyn, Jeremy's far more intelligent brother.

  • ‘Inappropriate dormers’: Hawkins\Brown’s King’s Cross warehouse revamp blocked

    Atticus 's comment 13 August, 2019 1:39 pm

    Quite frankly this is an outrageous decision, showing yet again the intellectual bankruptcy of the deeper parts of the planning system. I worked on the 1980's refurb of these buildings, including the additional new blocks, with David Bickle, who became one of the 3 main original partners of Hawkins Brown slightly afterwards. He had exceptional design skill, touched by magic. The scheme was pioneering in an area not safe to walk in at night, full of pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. Kings Cross has come a long way since then and its time to consolidate and intensify use and open the ground floor to back of pavement mixed use instead of the defensive frontage we created. Not least is one benefit that intensification provides more money to invest in good regeneration. This building is locally listed, a reason to protect its general contribution to the depth of history and diversity of the local setting. I don't think that can be argued with. But not a reason to preserve it in aspic and prevent well considered intensification and adaption to contain the increasingly diverse content of buildings in the area. Those dormers are a sensitive contemporary intervention that I and many others would judge to be excellent. Unusually the full frontal cgi is a disastrous representation and cannot have helped it. I detect the overly anti-change small mindedness of those unable to grasp design and commercial concepts as they evolve through time, instead regressing into a historic comfort zone at all costs. A good job the planning system wasn't around when London was 4 huts on a bridge. We'd still be building in mud and thatch with a maximum height of 3m and wearing loin cloths.

  • Ultra-low RIBA elections turnout is ‘wake-up call’, says former president

    Atticus 's comment 2 August, 2019 10:10 am

    I voted. But only just. The list of candidates didn't inspire. The only candidate statement I had any faith in was Alfred Munkenbeck. Also the only architect of note and worldly experience. Most of the others gave the impression of "those who do, do, and those who don't, sit for council" Over simplification and ungracious to some, but when a candidates opening words are about diversity in the profession I turned off.
    We aren’t good self-publicists and we are being marginalised and underappreciated. The general tendency for architects on council to be from marginal areas and more interested in peripheral issues than correcting those 2 factors diminishes us. Kevin McLeod has done more for my practice than anything the RIBA has done in recent years. He publicises and emphasises our benefit in a highly public arena. We need the RIBA to do this. It’s of primary importance. If we regain exposure and mass appreciation, correcting other things that marginalise will follow, often by default. I would make him honorary vice president. We need full page ads and internet advertising in mainstream media, Youtube publicity to intercept clients at an early stage, as an education programme like consumer product manufacturers do. People know more about their car purchase than their house, which costs far more.
    Most architects work in small practices without the budget to do this, and so the RIBA, as a central body, should and can. I would pay double the subscription if it did so effectively.
    Not currently interested in a deprived kid getting a shot at university when the profession is under such threat. They'd be financially better off doing something else anyway. Or equality agendas that don't carry out worthwhile multivalent analysis rather than just looking at pay. This is all internal virtue signalling missing the elephant in the room, namely the smaller practice end of the profession is going down the pan and wrt the profession as a whole, the public don't understand what we do or the value of it. End of rant, got to get back to working for nothing!

  • Mayor rejects ‘unwelcoming, poorly designed’ Tulip

    Atticus 's comment 15 July, 2019 4:26 pm

    As Paul Finch rightly points out, this is a suspiciously political and not an urban design vote based on sound aesthetic and other applicable principals (which Paul notes the mayor has proven by previous example that "he", ie his advisors, haven't got). The historicist lobby would always rather see London preserved in aspic, and not attractive for the future, which to some extent has a valuable input into the debate. Fortunately town planning control only appeared as late as 1948 or they would be campaigning for it to remain as 3 mud huts on a bridge "because anything bigger would be out of scale". I detect shallow virtue signalling by the climate change snowflakes.
    Rant deflection shields deployed!

  • Building study: Glasgow flats by Graeme Nicholls Architects

    Atticus 's comment 13 July, 2019 11:36 am

    Grim. Another bleak-house from the current crop of colourless hairshirt architects. This kind of stuff only serves to further alienate the profession from the public's respect and patronage. Not a humanising detail or visually rich material in sight. Please photograph it on a dreary wet and windy Glasgow day when tear shapes of soaked brick emanate down from the inadequate roof overhangs. This is graphic design not architecture. The insides look like an end of life prison or Soviet Gulag. Not impressed, when Glasgow has such a heritage of great urban architects, the likes of Salmon, Mackintosh and J.J.Burnet, who grappled with and succeeded in creating a humanist expression of the façade, and in particular Alexander "Greek" Thomson who mastered the tenement façade, which this claims to be a successor of.
    The so-called inspiring representational "narrative" is feeble to the extreme in realisation. Better to concentrate on the design and forget the BS justification.

  • Barking blaze: Fire experts had warned balconies were ‘significant hazard’

    Atticus 's comment 21 June, 2019 10:22 am

    Robert Wakeham: Major housebuilders and other developers save on architects fees by employing them to do the bare minimum and leaving subcontractor, often without design responsibility, and their own design managers to maintain continuity. If the initial architect was impoverished enough by the process they will have put in their specs/prelims that their work is design intent only, is not a final solution for construction and it is the responsibility of others to ensure regulatory and other requirements are met. Because their work is not as highly skilled as a full design service they will have also used cheaper and less experienced staff. This fragmentation and de-skilling looses the thread of an overall strategy for matters such as fire, if it was established in the first place anyway. We have worked as subcontractors designer in a major development and found that the process missed out what used to be stage E where strategy was defined. The client had refused to pay for it. We inherited a mess and as conscientious professionals our analysis and influence had to be exerted way beyond the package we were detailing, with an enhanced appointment, to be able to do that. This doesn't always happen, and gaps in thinking occur. The "blame" in our instance lay between the major client, who wouldn't pay for stage E, and the contractor who wouldn't do likewise at the beginning of his work and was under financial imperative to start on site imediately. Not having an equivalent to the old RIBA stage E in the current scope of works does not help. This is a regular occurence, and Building Control bodies don't wade in to demand it.
    Strictly speaking timber is an unsuitable material externally where fire resistance is required, because there isn't an available treatment that can be guaranteed not to deteriorate with weathering. Most building control officers accept treatments. Only a few are sticklers and will not. Weexhaustively tried to find a product and could not.

  • ‘Without instant action the Architects Declare paper promise is meaningless’

    Atticus 's comment 13 June, 2019 9:14 pm

    Notwithstanding I agree with Walter Menteth, this is a typical AJ virtue signalling campaign, missing rather than hitting head on the really big issues. As usual its China. So although setting an example by "little acorns" in the UK may be good, why not campaign for a carbon tax on all Chinese imports and investments, to bring them in line with the carbon tax targets of the west? This graph shows how UK CO2 emissions are but a pimple on the elephantine CO2 output of China.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions#/media/File:Total_CO2_emissions_by_country_in_2017_vs_per_capita_emissions_(top_40_countries).svg
    Go stand in Tiananmen square and protest, or at least do it in front of the Chinese Embassy, rather than virtue signalling by blocking Regents Street. Or at least rally a pressure group to get our government to do that.

  • Residents call for removal of timber cladding after fire at Barking Riverside

    Atticus 's comment 11 June, 2019 10:11 am

    ps, the last line of my comment above is from 2017, being the end of that quote.

  • Residents call for removal of timber cladding after fire at Barking Riverside

    Atticus 's comment 11 June, 2019 10:08 am

    Re Sam Webb’s pertinent comment in the article, on 14/08/2017 I wrote the following. It still appears that fear of blame is holding up sensible measures, not least checks on ALL cladding types already installed. Particularly that only surface spread of flame was required, not incombustibility, if a fire resistant backing wall was present. And that for many reasons culpability probably lies, as the Webb notes, with a series of ministers and their advisers. My comments are not just about Grenfell type cladding, but about the whole issue of the Building Regulations, fire and the building envelope.
    “14/08/2017:-Your article notes that "some aluminium composite cladding complies with Building Regulations". It’s about time the AJ got its facts right. The cladding panel used on the Grenfell tower meets the CURRENT Building Regulations because it was certified class 0 by Warrington. The test certificate was available on the internet. The regs are so badly written that the term "filler" was not generally interpreted to, and probably not intended to, apply to the cladding panel, but only the cavity behind. The panel only needs to be class 0 rather than non-combustible. When the Association Of Building Control officers issued an advisory note on this several years ago they inadvertently changed the wording to correct the regs without drawing direct attention to it. Over 6 years ago the minister was asked in the strongest terms to change the regs and refused to treat it as an urgent matter, see below. The AJ dedicated to the Grenfell fire did not confront this salient and primary matter. Culpability lies there with the minister. The Building Regulations continue to allow the flammable panel to be used, (14/08/2017), several months after the fire, even though everyone now knows the panel’s shortcomings.

    20 June 2017 London Loves Business Article:
    “The BBC has seen letters that show four separate government ministers were warned that fire regulations were not keeping people safe.
    The leaked letters show experts warning that those living in tower blocks like Grenfell Tower were “at risk”.
    At least 79 people are dead or missing presumed dead after the fire last week.
    Panorama has also learned that firefighters put out the initial flat fire in Grenfell Tower - but couldn’t stop the flames spreading outside.
    Leaked letters
    The letters show experts have been worried about fire safety in tower blocks for years.
    Following a fatal fire in Lakanal House in south London in 2009, a series of recommendations were made to keep people safe.
    They were ignored. The government promised a review of regulations in 2013, but it still hasn’t happened.
    Panorama has obtained a dozen letters sent by the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group.
    Informed by experts, they warned the government they “could not afford to wait for another tragedy”.
    Four ministers received letters but didn’t strengthen the regulations.
    Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety.
    “We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.
    After six people were killed at Lakanal House in 2009, the coroner made a series of safety recommendations for the government to consider.
    Ministers promised a review in 2013, but it was soon delayed.
    In March 2014, the parliamentary group wrote: “Surely… when you already have credible evidence to justify updating… the guidance… which will lead to saving of lives, you don’t need to wait another three years in addition to the two already spent since the research findings were updated, in order to take action?
    “As there are estimated to be another 4,000 older tower blocks in the UK, without automatic sprinkler protection, can we really afford to wait for another tragedy to occur before we amend this weakness?”
    After further correspondence, the then government minister - Liberal Democrat MP Steven Williams - replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward.”
    The group replied to say they “were at a loss to understand, how you had concluded that credible and independent evidence which had life safety implications, was NOT considered to be urgent”.
    “As a consequence the group wishes to point out to you that should a major fire tragedy, with loss of life occur between now and 2017, in for example, a residential care facility or a purpose built block of flats, where the matters which had been raised here, were found to be contributory to the outcome, then the group would be bound to bring this to others’ attention.”
    The letters were written before the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
    Former cabinet minister Eric Pickles received a letter about fire regulations from the parliamentary group in February 2014.
    He had also been asked to look at fire safety in February 2013 and March 2013 by two separate coroners, investigating two tower block fires.
    In December 2015, the all-party group wrote to the former Conservative minister James Wharton, and warned about the risk of fires spreading on the outside of buildings with cladding.
    “Today’s buildings have a much higher content of readily available combustible material. Examples are timber and polystyrene mixes in structure, cladding and insulation…
    “This fire hazard results in many fires because adequate recommendations to developers simply do not exist. There is little or no requirement to mitigate external fire spread.”
    Further calls for action were made to former Conservative minister Gavin Barwell, now Theresa May’s top aide, in September last year.
    In November 2016, Mr Barwell replied to say his department had been looking at the regulations, and would make a statement “in due course”.
    The fire experts asked for the government statement to be brought forward.
    In April 2017, Gavin Barwell wrote to say he did “acknowledge that producing a statement on building regulations has taken longer than I had envisaged”.
    The government today said there was still no timetable for a review.

  • House extension rules made permanent to cut ‘time-consuming red tape’

    Atticus 's comment 29 May, 2019 8:51 am

    Bryan Davies, completely wrong. In the green belt around Guildford, Woking and Mole Valley, town planning has become totally intellectually bankrupt in its approach to extensions in the green belt. When a house has previously been extended to the maximum allowed in the Green Belt, Permitted Development Rights often remain and enable householders to build extensions which would otherwise be refused. Such refusals are made on floor area alone, even when they may be hidden from all angles by being, say, in the inner angle of an "L" shaped plan, and thus not "harmful to the openness of the green belt", one of the principal policy reasons for refusal. Guildford have even rejected a basement, completely concealed beneath the house, because it was deemed "harmful to the Green Belt", which bis absolutely not the case, hence my argument that Town Planning officers are now intellectually bankrupt, have lost the spirit of green belt policy, and are enacting extreme interpretations without applying reasonable judgement. Therefore PD has become an essential element to side-step their lack of reason. For those working in the above areas we are now being refused planning applications for extensions within the Green Belt Max floor area and completely acceptable, because PD rights remain elsewhere on the property and would, if built after approval of the applied for extension but before its construction, extend the house beyond the Green Belt proportional maximum. Approval conditions to remove PD rights are not considered as counter-measures because removal has virtually never been upheld at appeal.

  • Weekend roundup: Hawkins\Brown – no more Mr Nice Guys

    Atticus 's comment 18 May, 2019 9:16 am

    ps, I think its such a crass headline, you owe an apology.

  • Weekend roundup: Hawkins\Brown – no more Mr Nice Guys

    Atticus 's comment 18 May, 2019 9:13 am

    The AJ's comment "no more Mr Nice Guys" is quite frankly disingenuous and outrageous and expresses completely the depths into the "Woke" and SJW culture that the AJ has sunk.
    These guys are running a business, a very successful and humane one. As businesses grow there are points in time where the needs change radically and a different range of skills are required. In order to continue, change has to take place or the business will falter. It isn't always possible to foresee that and have a perfect plan ahead of time to ensure it all goes smoothly without such consequences. So grow up AJ and get world-wise instead of Woke-dim, shooting cheap headlines out without proper research and reasoning. And most of all without being fair to the accused. I recall when Fosters went from a small practice with in house consultants to a big practice, and all the in house electrical and mechanical engineers were shed at once, and large external consultancies took their place. Those engineers were good, so they set up new businesses and became successful themselves. Its life, get used to it AJ and report it with due respect.

  • Scruton sacked as chair of beauty watchdog over ‘unacceptable comments’

    Atticus 's comment 10 April, 2019 5:27 pm

    McKenzie Architects are correct.
    This is basically oppression of free speech. And we should all know where that slippery slope has lead in the past. Tyrannical regimes that in the last century killed over 250m people. Who is to judge and how are the boundaries between what’s "acceptable" and "unacceptable" defined. That’s a very dangerous one to attempt to answer.
    This is not hateful speech.
    His statement about the Muslim Brotherhood is factually correct. His statement about Hungary, Soros and Victor Orban is factually correct. His statement about the Chinese is an amusing personal point of view that can be accepted or discarded without having to be “triggered” or "offended".
    Freedom of Speech is not just another principle. It's the mechanism by which we keep our psyches and our societies organized, and we have to be unbelievably careful about infringing upon that.
    The generally negative comments represent an elitist media caste that is obstructing a great populist revolution. This caste is spectacularly ignorant of what constitutes a progressive civilisation. They reduce human interaction to tedious name-calling between the “woke” and the “red-pilled”, awake to the truth of reality.
    It cannot be said too often that the first amendment to the United States constitution was adopted with the explicit purpose of protecting minority opinion. Though we have no such jurisprudential protection in Britain, and we – like most democratic societies – curtail speech that is libellous, incites imminent violence or whips up racial hatred, our inherited presumption in favour of free expression is more important than ever. A pluralistic, diverse society needs more free speech, not less. It needs fewer safe spaces and bans, and more civility and resilience.
    Now, I know what some of you are thinking: what right does a white, middle-class, straight, cis male like Scruton have to say anything about this? And the answer is: he should say what he likes, within the law, and so should you.
    Object that “speech is violence”, and I reply: tell that to the 262 reporters who, according to the Committee To Protect Journalists were imprisoned last year – a record high. It has become fashionable to claim that the wrong kind of words can cause damage to our “neural circuitry”. To which I say – really? Are we really going down the road where speech is included in the same category as fists and batons? Because once you allow that philosophical elision, you essentially ditch the Enlightenment – which, speaking for myself, I still find quite handy to have about the place.
    Of all the delusions that grip our fractious era, one of the worst is the confident belief that greater restriction of speech will necessarily serve progressive ends. I see no logic in that whatsoever. Everyone finds something objectionable or upsetting. It would be a moment of maximum peril if the primary test applied to expression became its capacity to offend. Why assume that those setting the rules would necessarily support the powerless or the disenfranchised? The injunction “You can’t say that” leads just as plausibly to Margaret Atwood’s Gilead or to Oceania.
    To be a citizen is to engage, and as an intellectual Scruton is a model of that engagement. Unless you believe that history has a self-evident direction – and it really doesn’t – you must accept that almost all progress is achieved by the hard grind of negotiation, tough debate and busy pluralism. The aphasia of “no-platform” and the bedlam of the digital mob add nothing to the mix. To quote the great African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates: let them talk.

  • Proctor & Matthews ‘disappointed’ to be replaced as Thamesmead goes D&B

    Atticus 's comment 23 March, 2019 10:49 am

    A note to Paul Finch. Unless the employers requirements in the contract are sufficiently strong in defining what is required, usually a full old school stage E set of prototype detail requirements, and the contractor has not been allowed to circumvent or dilute them in his contractors proposals at tender stage, there will be insufficient contractual requirements to enable an Employers Representative Architect to have adequate control and influence. They can only work within the terms of the contract.

  • Proctor & Matthews ‘disappointed’ to be replaced as Thamesmead goes D&B

    Atticus 's comment 23 March, 2019 10:28 am

    What seems to be misunderstood in the comments is that whether its Proctor Matthews novated or Fourpoint working for the contractor, the imperative on quality in D&B is with the contractor rather than the client.
    Its highly unusual in such scenarios for an adequate Employers Requirements to have been provided to enable adequate control, as the client will not wish to pay the original architect to do a full, old school, stage E. And the contractor will not have been required to submit the equivalent of Stage E in his tender contractors proposals to enable standards to be negotiated and fixed in the tender. I hope I'm wrong in the this and the converse is the case. Durkan will have had to dumb down in order to win the tender and then later to put a profit back on it. You cannot fault them for this, its the scenario Peabody's naivety has set in motion.
    So it all ends up like Churchill placing Montgomery under Rommel's command on the eve of El Alamein. Pure insanity. Peabody have entered a lottery. They will get the result they deserve. Good or, more likely, not as good or bad. Unfortunately for Peabody very few if any housing architects have the skill to achieve the detailed design quality that Proctor Matthews consistently achieve when they continue through all stages of design realisation.

  • RIBA drops International Women’s Day cookery class after backlash

    Atticus 's comment 4 March, 2019 9:38 am

    Dear RIBA,
    My practice is 50-50 male female, with pay on merit. What we do need is for the RIBA to promote the value of architects to potential clients in the loudest way possible in the mainstream media channels. This way we may command better fees to be able to pay better salaries to all. Get to the root causes and not just pay. And stop just looking at equality in the workplace through the singular analysis of pay. Its far more complicated and needs a thorough multivalent analysis.

  • Architects being ‘pressured’ into opting out of Working Time Directive

    Atticus 's comment 2 March, 2019 9:47 am

    Paul Lewis is on the right tack.
    Once again the AJ's shallow SJW warrior journalism looks at penalising for the symptoms rather than burrowing down a few layers for real ways to stop the cause of this problem.
    I run my own small practice. I employ quality staff and pay them a decent wage. Most potential clients see us as a commodity and take the lowest bidder. We don't do that work. We market ourselves as adding value, reducing risk and start early to try and build such "can only go with you" compulsion in a client that we get +better valued and can charge more. The problem is the lack of appreciation of what architects value is to a project. As a small practice we cannot change the perception of a nation, neither can a trade magazine like the AJ.
    But the RIBA can. I would double my subscription to the RIBA if it embarked on a national campaign in all the most visible media to educate potential clients out there the value of architects and the need to pay well. If you go to Foster and Partners and want Norman on your job you pay a large premium.
    So for a while RIBA, less concentration on SJW campaigns and more effort on the root cause of those symptoms, directed towards educating the client base out there in the most visible ways possible. Just like car manufacturers do about their products. McLoud has done more for our business with Grand Designs programme and magazine than the RIBA have done in the 40 years I've been a member. I vote McLoud for RIBA president next time round.

  • Weekend roundup: A broken political system

    Atticus 's comment 23 February, 2019 10:34 am

    The Grimshaw building is grim, a blight on the public realm at pavement level where it presents no active or attractive frontage, only tat, wire fence and barbed security measures, more appropriate to the back of an industrial estate. for an excellent critique on such affronts to the public realm watch this. https://www.ted.com/talks/james_howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia?language=en

  • Gender pay gap 2019: Foster + Partners reports small improvement

    Atticus 's comment 24 January, 2019 11:28 am

    This continual showcasing of a single factor, pay, is lazy journalism and meaningless without a multi-valent analysis of all the factors involved. Women make different life choices and as a whole have different aptitudes and skillset potential than men, although everything is nuanced and nothing is a 100% rule. I suggest the AJ carry out a detail analysis and updates across many influencing factors. That would be a really useful tool in, eg, helping to stop the marginalisation of women trying to get back into architecture after having young children, and determining what proportion of roles in architecture are suitable for each of men and women. It may find out that there are less suitable roles in the profession for the MAJORITY of women, not withstanding some will be better than men in the more "masculine" roles. Admit it, men and women are different. There, I've opened a hornets nest, but the default rejection of this without scientific evidence is getting tiresome. ps, our practice is 60% female at present, slightly under resourced in technical skill, and pay is by skill not gender.

  • Brexit deal defeat: Profession left ‘in an impossible situation’

    Atticus 's comment 16 January, 2019 6:46 pm

    Well said Paul. Our 2 European employees, one Sardinian, one Greek, are totally unfazed and glad to be here instead of in bankrupted Euro currency land. The Greek one hasn't a good thing to say about the EU, who are the cause of her exile to the UK to gain work. Less of the hysterical poorly researched rantings of the South East bubble inhabitants and more dispassionate in depth analysis, including reporting about the wider issues of Brexit please AJ.

  • Budget 2018: Hammond set to further loosen permitted development rules

    Atticus 's comment 30 October, 2018 10:37 am

    This is an ugly sticking plaster solution to the severe problem arising with the intellectually bankrupt planning system. Left to evolve naturally, conurbations intensify as the population increases. Where intensification occurs, an "invasion and succession" process of core uses replacing peripheral uses takes place, usually at much greater densities. On the other hand planning policy, and the manner in which it is tied up in local politics, increasingly flies in the face of this due to short term-ism and local political expediency. The planning system and its guiding policy does not adequately acknowledge this, instead increasingly tries to preserve a status quo. An intellectual bankrupcy and lack of appropriate oversight on the part of the planning system. Solving this by the blunt device of PDR is not appropriate. The way policy is evolved needs an overhaul. For instance, in the image above of possible sites, I lead the renovation of a building on the camera side of the piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral. There was no way the local planning dept would let us extend upwards, yet its shown as having a blue 2 storey uplift. I would say it should have more. Hence why I opened saying the blunt weapon of PDR to overcome the inappropriate local planning response is a sticking plaster not a solution. A more reasoned and intellectually considered approach is required, to encouraging or even demanding intensification when a building is renovated after 60 years of existence, to match population demands for the following 60 years

  • RIBA Stirling Prize reaction: ‘The money wins it’

    Atticus 's comment 11 October, 2018 9:21 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with Phil Parker. The mean mouthed social justice warrior reviews chosen above by the AJ and RIBA establishment, to the exclusion of others, does nothing to celebrate the spectacular things that architects can achieve that others cannot. The creation of a design company that can orchestrate such a building is not born overnight and it takes a determined and single- minded profession-leader to do it. So celebrate it instead of showing bitching envy. I think the pier was most unappealing and had none of the design bravura of a great Victorian pier. It didn't create a memorable icon and went un-noticed to the broader public nationally, and in that sense didn't have the ability to act as a flagship to show the public that architects should be used instead of the rag tag of others who are invading our role with less inspired outcomes. A tad harsh, but if the RIBA is to front the BUSINESS of architecture so that we can all prosper, it needs to seriously re-consider how it can affect the level of mediocrity in the areas where the bulk of the profession work: monster cottage private housing and dreary workplace buildings. Areas that are sneered at by the overtly left leaning sjw architectural media and institutions. However, I would applaud some of the above reviewers such as Alan Dunlop who straddle the divide with good outcomes.

  • John Pardey appeals after New Forest Council refuses lakefront house

    Atticus 's comment 10 September, 2018 11:22 am

    We are encountering the same issues. Planning policies intended to protect for instance the "Openness" of the Green Belt, ie urban sprawl and ribbon development as it manifest itself in the 1930's, now being interpreted to prevent sensible intensification by enlarging existing properties. This has reached its ultimate absurdity where Guildford have rejected a completely buried and hidden basement as being damaging to the greenbelt. There are many rural 1930's bungalow estates which could be intensified without damaging the green belt, yet enhancements are refused on the basis of proportional increase alone rather than subjective assessment. Planning officers have become jobsworths, applying rules like a script, without any rational basis other than to protect themselves from criticism. This is not helping the housing crisis or mobility of labour. In this regard the planning proffession has lost its way and become intellectually bankrupt, delegating decision making to appeals that are often awarded against the councills decisions (ref recent AJ article citing the huge number of residential planning approvals won at appeal). Having attended planning committee mtgs recently I have been astounded by the inadequacy of the members to understand the complex issues they are dealing with and to make decisions based upon personal bigotry and political bias rather than acting as custodians of a fit for purpose planning system. All the result of the govt opting out of responsibility and leaving NIMBYsm to take too high a profile in decision making. A complete dichotomy of central government mindset considering that the UK population is increasing by 1m every 3 years, 85% due to immigration (govt's own statistics).

  • Fletcher Crane submits plans for black cement bungalow in Surbiton

    Atticus 's comment 4 September, 2018 10:01 am

    Great plan. Perfect synopsis of contemporary clients ideal living requirements. Great job. Rising stars. Watch this space...……………...

  • Why I felt I had to quit BDP after maternity leave

    Atticus 's comment 3 September, 2018 9:49 pm

    I was purposefully provocative and wrote from personal experience. Nobody could be any more accommodating than me. What the snowflakes on here have missed is that my practice goes to great lengths to accommodate parenting architects, male and female, but in the end too many of those who we try to accommodate with contrivances of flexibility just dump us in the poo. And its usually unavoidable from their part. But we still end up in the poo. A point that none of the self righteously myopic "have it all" respondents have acknowledged. Whats interesting is the fathers who have worked tight hours to do the school and nursery runs for wives with more distant commuting jobs, have all made up any time lost to inconvenience and child sickness by making up later in the evening or weekend on our remote access computer network. To a one, the women haven't. This is just fact, not a fictitious slight against women. Jordan Peterson bears this out by quoted statistics. Men tend to work harder and have greater conscientiousness. And as one respondent noted, I was careful to qualify with "some women". I've known extremely conscientious women architects who've outpaced their male colleagues and risen to the top because of it. You get out what you put in. Its a meritocracy, not a socialist state legislating for equality of outcome and all the unproductive consequences that entails.
    PS, the AJ survey of equality of employment based upon pay alone doesn't pass first base as a scientific study because it doesn't take into account all the complex issues at play in its topic. So as to end in a constructive note, it would be really interesting if a survey of a comprehensive list of issues that influence equality in the architectural workplace were to be carried out. That may throw light on how the profession can best help...or not... But I fear that would be too "logical" as facing up to logical arguments seems to be avoided at all costs by the liberal / feminists on here. It might lead to a Cathy Newman/Jordan Peterson style "Gotcha" moment.

    Ps, the arrogance of the previous comment is unbelievable " Clearly BDP's flexible working is not that flexible unless it works for them." Well why else would they do it? Because it doesn't work for them? Get real.

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