Gordon Gibb's comments
The aluminium framed windows are certainly better than the uPVC replacements that they replace, and the maintenance issue is a relevant one. I don't know that colour makes much difference to staining. Darker materials stain badly too. The building is an ugly monster that is somehow alluring, and the revision to these minor details doesn't make it significantly less ugly, so I would suggest that there is nothing to see here.
I would disagree that unnecessary cost and debt is "nothing to see", in a country where the development of poverty as a policy outcome is the norm and government is evidently too poor to provide for the basic needs of the electorate in non-Tory areas.
The big problem that I have is not only the fiasco, but also the Graylingesque scale of the stupidity of the decision ever to proceed with this idea. The UK did not need London to have another bridge, for any reason. London did not need a bridge in that location, for any reason. The idea of making a bridge with a garden on it is on of the most stupidly unsustainable ideas any one ever had, and the idea that there was some charitable purpose behind this egocentric delusion takes us into the area of farce beyond the public purse paying for Peter Viggers's duck island.
When is anyone in the London bubble going to realise that the rest of the country, which is totally under represented in all areas, be it funding, media or culture, really doesn't care what you do or think, other than that you do not waste our resources on your strutting dandification?
Please don't prattle on to each other in the press about personalities. Just arrange to give the appropriate people their money back (Proceeds of Crime Legislation would help) and fire all of the incompetents who dreamed this up or let it fester.
Have any of these people noticed that we need to provide the poorer on more disadvantaged sectors of our society with adequate housing? Weird idea, I know, but maybe we could do that, as a country, rather than all this ... around?
I also find the title of this article "Why architects need to wake up to the carbon emergency" offensive. Do you have any evidence that we are less aware of this issue than we should be? Are you stating, as you appear to be, that we are asleep?
What Will Hurst fails to acknowledge is that architects are not the decision makers in these matters. It would be different if architecture was only about need. It appears to me that most architecture in London (the local area predominantly represented by the AJ) is about celebration of excess for the benefit of a narcissistic organisation or authority.
We have been told by Sir Michael Latham that the architect should not be the decision maker; it should be the consumer, and by Sir John Egan that the process should not be driven by the architect but by the contractor. Government policy has followed that advice ever since and that has been adopted by the private sector. Now the only thing left with a public face, the rather silly concept of "prettiness", is being put in the hands of an untrained and out-of-date privileged traditionalist with friends from the old school to give him a chance to spout about what he likes to see on a Wednesday.
So why are you telling architects about sustainability? We know about it. We are at the cutting edge of this and know that there is far more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your article. The problem exists because no-one is interested in what we say.
Look at the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, as a perfect example of the direct consequence of all that the government has advised. No sandstone there. Existing building reused. Cheapest, lightest materials used. Decisions made by client and contractor alone. Big sums saved on oversight. Big sums saved by the Westminster government by not changing the law and the regulations for England when neighbouring countries had done so, based upon the same knowledge. And the result? Unimaginable human loss, and terrible social and environmental cost. This was followed by further resource waste through the government, who are seriously conflicted, setting up a public enquiry that omits reference to their procurement route and a police action which cannot look at a failure in the law. How sustainable did that turn out to be?
I think it is time for people to stop telling architects what they should know about the subject in which they are extensively trained and start listening to them. It is also time to start appreciating that the terrible problems we have with the lack of sustainability in the construction industry do not lie with architects. The failure is that the process of procurement, taken away from architects in recent years, is led by the ephemeral priorities of the paymaster and the current government, and not the wider and lengthier-impact needs of the user and the environment.
Of course it is remote. It was located where it was for its remoteness. It was the idea of the remoteness of the building that became obsolete almost as soon as it was opened that caused the building's demise.
The three listed historic bridges that will not take heavy traffic that you have to cross over to get to the remote part of the remote site where the building sits make it difficult to access. I remember this being an additional obstacle for previous schemes. It needs a great deal of money to bring it back, probably around 30 million, and it probably needs an access road across ground owned by others. There are very steep gradients on the adjacent ground and there is a golf course.
It would never be a community building. You don't get a train and then walk uphill through a remote wood to a community building. You don't pay 30 million pounds for a local community facility for 2,200 people. There has never been any need expressed for one of the scale of St Peters in Cardross.
It needs to have an ideally-suited purpose first, that is both national and international in appeal, not a local appeal. Until you have that perfect world-scale match, it won't happen. Because the building's restoration is parasitic upon the process at the outset, you have to justify it by showing it to make that perfect sense. If you attract the initiative there will always be competition from new build on a new site at a third of the cost. I would love to see it restored. Wouldn't we all? But we have to get real and make the business case first, even if it is to be subsidy led and for the arts. Wishing won't make it happen.
Good luck. I can't see it being a community building, because there is no community near it. It could be a national resource though, and it is well suited to being a residential centre for the arts or music. The acoustics are amazing, even in its current state. Although it is mostly roof and it has a very similar acoustic quality to the Borders abbeys, which still ring, even though mostly de-roofed.
Andy and Isi were known by the contractors as "The Alter Boys" during construction, because they kept on changing their minds and altering the design. It seems to me that this building is destined to present a challenge to anyone who wishes to alter it from its current status of honourable ruin.
Quoting from the Architects Registration Board website:
“Architects are proud of their title, and do not want to see it used either to mislead the public or in a way that could damage their professional reputation.”
Under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997, the title ‘architect’ is protected. It can only be used in business or practice by someone who has had the education, training and experience needed to become an architect, and who is registered with the ARB. The Act protects the public from dishonest individuals who deliberately mislead people by calling themselves something they’re not. ARB advise that they restrict actions to those against persons who may lead one into thinking their role had something to do with the design and construction of buildings.
In this case Mr Roger Scruton holds himself out to be an architect, in the context of architectural design and the construction of buildings, and indicates that there need not be architects involved in the very important and high profile process in which he is engaged because he is one, using the words, "I am an architect".
The relevant Wikipedia page states:
Sir Roger Vernon Scruton FBA FRSL (/ˈskruːtən/; born 27 February 1944) is an English philosopher and writer who specialises in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views.
The above indicates no engagement in architectural education and the ARB register confirms that Mr Roger Scruton is not an architect. Therefore in my view there is cause to believe that he may be found guilty of a criminal offence under the Act.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, ARB will prosecute in the magistrates’ courts. ARB apply two tests before deciding upon whether to prosecute, which are evidence and public interest. In this instance there is recorded evidence and I would suggest that there is a strong public interest in preventing the profession being brought into disrepute.
I am making a complaint to the Architects Registration Board asking the Registrar to investigate the misuse of the title "architect" by Mr Scruton. Should you wish to do the same, the link to the be followed is: https://title-complaints.arb.org.uk/
Is the level that we have fallen as a profession to one where the press using our name can think it appropriate to put a profanity in a headline and then repeat it through an article? It seems that the reporting is of a person swearing. It has no other merit. With just what gravitas is this content delivered? This is shameful and embarrassing for us and for you. When a student decides to review AJ for research purposes in years to come, what are they going to think when they find this? Do you have so little respect for us and for those who follow after that you think this appropriate communication for an Architect? Take this down right away AJ, and reflect upon your conduct.
If those involved in public procurement want architects to be accountable for their buildings, then those who procure those buildings must also be prepared to be held accountable. When public procurement prioritises transfer of all risk away from the public body onto the hands of the contractor, that accountability is subverted. Architects would like to take back control. Local authorities, other government agencies and those involved in getting a cheap job, thrown up quickly, value engineered down to the lowest common denominator, with no need for any administrative involvement or risk, prevent architects from being in control. There is a serious conflict of interest in politicians seeking to blame others, when they have all of the control.
Congratulations to Alan. Good to see someone with real experience of education and practice, and not from London's parochial bubble, being brought forward to the driving seat. Hopefully Alan's mandate will allow improvement of the RIBA's stance on education and will enable stock to be taken of what the RIBA actually does for those who actually pay for it to exist, through his promised review of the Charter.