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Atticus 's comments

  • ‘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.
    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.

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