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Paul Lewis's comments

  • Architecture union launches to fight ‘toxic culture’ of overwork

    Paul Lewis's comment 30 October, 2019 9:36 am

    The RIBA is supposed to do this and has failed miserably for decades. We shouldn't need a union this is a job for the RIBA.

    Low wages and long hours are driven by low fees & visa versa. Practice directors accept low fees knowing they can make a project work financially as their employees will work long and hard for little.

    If employees stood up and said 'no' then fees would have to go up as directors would not make a profit. Most employees can't do this as they fear for their jobs. So good luck to the union, if they can give young architects a voice to say 'no' the profession can break this awful culture of long hours and low pay that the RIBA should have done.

  • New national design guide: the industry reacts

    Paul Lewis's comment 7 October, 2019 9:20 am

    Context, context, context. I am sick and tired of planners making me dumb down well designed buildings to fit within the context of dull, dreary inter-war suburban tat!

    This country is obsessed with Mock-Tudor / Neo-Georgian rubbish. It consumes all design and brings it down to the lowest common denominator.

    Has anyone told the planners / Government that combining inter-war tat with the required balcony amenity spaces and a blanket no-render policy is nigh on impossible. We are in an era of dull brick boxes with recessed balconies with only a liberal splatter of projecting header bricks to break up the monotony.

    Its design by numbers and its producing a new batch of 21st Century rubbish that future generations will have to fit in with therefore repeating the cycle of junk.

    Why don't we just all go back to living in caves and using horse and carts?

  • TV architect calls on government to build 100,000 council homes a year

    Paul Lewis's comment 2 August, 2019 9:05 am

    Try selling a development to an HA with less than 20 and sometimes 40 homes. They are just not interested, they are also not interested in purchasing developments that mix social and general sale homes. Any development between 10 and 20 homes is in limbo, no one will buy them and the off site contributions / 106 / CIL make them uneconomic to build. Anything 9 and under there is no requirement for affordable homes and if there was no HA would buy them as they are too small to manage.

    Any development over 20/40 requires complex intensification of 3 plus site joined, this meets with massive public opposition, we see objections in the hundreds.

    Developers and architects get the blame but its the public who are nimby's, the GOV who have disjointed policy, the planners who are stuck in past utopias (scared of upsetting the nimbiy's) and the HA's who refuse to look at the many smaller sites that are offered to them.

    Planning policy needs to change to allow suburban intensification (such as in Croydon). More creative solutions are needed for car parking and ownership (as this limits intensification). The public need to be educated that homes are needed and if everyone was a Nimby nothing would get build and 4.5M families and their children will be bought up in temporary accommodation, their children with no happy memories or healthy foundation in life. HA's need to radically re-think how they manage their estates so they can buy smaller sites.



  • AJ student survey 2019: the harsh realities of life in practice

    Paul Lewis's comment 29 July, 2019 9:59 am

    This just shows how woefully lacking architectural education is in preparation for professional life.

    This year I visited a final year degree show for the 1st time in many years. Nothing I saw was architecture. Illustration & 3D modelling perhaps.

    I have worked with graduates but unfortunately, through no fault of their own, they have not been taught the necessary skills and cost me time as a lot of their work has to be re-done. Its a real shame but many graduates are only employable as 3D modellers.

    There is no comprehension of design constraints, budgets, planning requirements, coordination, building control or the importance of client briefs.

    Many of the graduates seem disappointed they are not given projects to design. Given the lack of skills they have been given and the litigious nature of architecture this is hardly surprising!

    Its a disgrace they are not allowed to visit sites or shadow an architect on site. I shadowed through my part 3 and it was invaluable. This should part of the part 3 programme or else graduates will just become visualisers.

    A complete overhaul of the education system is required and quickly! Eastern European graduates know much more than UK graduates so we should be looking at how other countries teach their aspiring next generation of architects.

    We are not doing enough for graduates and its a disgrace. Having great ideas is fine but if you don't have the ability to realise them they will come to nothing.


  • Mayor rejects ‘unwelcoming, poorly designed’ Tulip

    Paul Lewis's comment 16 July, 2019 9:51 am

    There are plenty of tall buildings to view London from without creating another for no reason other than vanity. The square mile is now a collection of miss matched buildings the scale and mass mostly dictated by the out of date London View Management Framework which should be scraped.


    I strongly agree with David Farmery that the Post Office tower already exists and could be re purposed to return it to world class iconic tourist attraction i once was.

    This decision is the right one, along with the scrapping of the garden bridge. Anyone who wants to use tens of thousands of tons of concrete to make a park over a river when you can make a park next to the river on existing ground is deluded. Same goes for a stick thin tower with a knob on top.

    London is not hitting the 'miserabilist' buffers as Paul Finch suggests, it needs to make mature, sustainable, future proof decisions. its not Disney World!


  • Beauty commission calls on councils to ‘say no to ugliness’

    Paul Lewis's comment 9 July, 2019 9:21 am

    Since when have councils been the best judge of what is 'beautiful' this is a ridiculous notion! They dictate external materials, roof forms, balcony types, massing etc. Developments have a multitude of constraints to overcome, esp. affordable housing, planning constraints (as above), low budgets, HA requirements, low architectural fees, time constraints on options, neighbour objections, politics, covenants, party walls, site topography, TPO's, I could go on and on and on. This is far more complex then you are making out and highlights the issues architects face when their peers are only able to judge on the appearance of a completed scheme without being aware of any of the other constraints. This country has a massive requirement for new homes and this coupled with expensive land, massive development taxes, low funding availability for HA's and restricted materials (planning and HA build-ability) will always mean there are few options available. Radical review is required if you want 'beauty' restrictions need to be lifted and funding increased!

  • Parliament refurb: AHMM reveals first images of MPs’ temporary home

    Paul Lewis's comment 8 May, 2019 11:10 am

    Why spend all that money on something temporary that will be over budget and run years late. Surely an existing building ,or buildings, could be easily re-purposed. What a waste of public funds.

  • RIBA blasted over failed RSPCA competition

    Paul Lewis's comment 4 April, 2019 8:15 am

    Completely agree with 'number 5' and I have stated the same many times. Competitions are devaluing our profession in the eyes of clients and the general public as they perpetuate the fact that architects are prepared to work for nothing. If we don't value our time or expertise why should clients & the public?

    I can't believe the RIBA continues to endorse competitions. It is also a recurring theme that directors claim competitions cost their company money however they probably count free overtime by students and junior architects that have worked for free. It is recently qualified architects that lose out in this, not the companies.

    If someone is serious about getting ideas from several architects they should pick the ones they like and pay them to work up proposals.

    Some competitions attract 300+ entrants, all that wasted time and energy and what do people & clients think? Architects have time and money to burn so obviously make too much profit.

    The RIBA, by endorsing competitions, are literally ruining the profession and encouraging slave labour.

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

    Paul Lewis's comment 1 March, 2019 9:49 am

    I have worked up to and even over 100 hours per week many times, both in employment and while running my own practice. When you work for yourself you do what you want to do and I am happy doing this for myself but its unacceptable for employees.

    Its a condition that starts at University with 'all nighters' its then exploited by employers who know their recent graduates are used to it. This helps employers keep fees low. Universities need to take some blame here too.

    The whole issue is driven by low fees and a very time and labour intensive design process that no-one appreciates. Architects need to charge for their time appropriately and stop accepting low fees.

    On a smaller residential developments a developer can easily make over £1M profit. The 'average' architect who is responsible for realising this profit will get around 1% of this to planning. I know some Architects who's fees will be under 0.5% of the profit realisation.

    This is the fault of the RIBA & Architects for doing nothing about it. Low fees are a direct result of employee exploitation and as long as employees agree to do it & employers do not demand appropriate fees, it will continue.

    Architects don't help themselves by doing competitions for free. These competitions should be banned. A client should shortlist around 5 architects and pay them to produce a feasibility and then choose his Architect.

    Competitions enhance the perception that architects have nothing but free time to indulge in charity work that others can profit from. They are a scourge on our profession and I am continually disgusted that unpaid competitions, funded by under-payed and overworked employees, are encouraged by the RIBA, AJ & other organisations.

  • Expert panel demands massive drive to build social housing

    Paul Lewis's comment 9 January, 2019 10:49 am

    These homes will never be built. At current land values and build costs the 50% requirement for affordable housing in new schemes over 9 units means developers have to push the costs of providing these homes onto the market housing, so affordable homes make housing un-affordable and viability tests therefore fail. This is all wrong. The Gov should be adding a per unit tax onto new homes for developers so all new development pays. The LA should then be given this money to develop and build their own affordable homes. A developer is never going to build houses that will not make a decent profit, and why should they. All the policies are ridiculous, unless the Gov radically re thinks how it funds social housing and who builds them they will never achieve their goal. They need to do it themselves and stop pushing the responsibility onto developers.

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