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Architects call for Gove’s resignation


Architects have hit out at Michael Gove for his latest ‘disgraceful’ outburst against the profession, calling for the education secretary’s immediate resignation

Henrik Rothe of Camden-based Leit-werk Architects is among a growing chorus of angry architects who are calling on the schools minister to resign following controversial comments in which Gove claimed there would be no role for award winning-architects nor Richard Rogers in the government-backed Free Schools programme.

In a draft letter to the minister Rothe said: ‘[Gove’s] comments are a disgrace to the profession. I can see no other way then either to apologise in public for your outrageous, unjustified and politically incorrect comments about the architecture profession or to resign from your post with immediate effect.’

Rothe added: ‘[Legal] actions may be necessary to stop the profession from further damage caused by your unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour.’

John Kellett of Kreativ Architects has also called for Gove’s resignation. He said: ‘He has proved himself incompetent.

‘The truths about where the profits (if there were indeed any) from PFI projects went would be useful. An apology and explanation of his views must be widely publicised.’

Architect Liz Simpson added that Gove’s remark was ‘extremely damaging’ to the profession. She explained: ‘I find Michael Gove’s repeated comments about architect’s “creaming off the cash” and becoming “richer” from working on the design of schools extremely damaging to the image of the profession insulting to those working within it.

‘His comments also show a worrying naivety on his behalf with regards to the complexity of the BSF procurement process. I suppose “blame the architect”has more of a ring to it than “blame the Technical Advisory Services Framework Agreement”.’

David Wilson of David Wilson Architect said: ‘I think he possibly needs educated about what architects are going through and how our national “stars” are assets. I spent a couple of years trying to chase public work [from] what I hear the group fees are abysmal.’

However Free School activist Toby Young has again claimed that education sector-spending on architects is unjustified.

In a letter to the AJ he said: ‘I can see why a firm of architects would want to turn a school building into a civic monument – if I was an architect, I’m sure that’s what I’d want to do. But there’s no evidence that such monuments have a positive impact on educational attainment and in the absence of any such evidence I don’t see how the government can justify asking the taxpayer to pay for them in the current economic climate.

‘The National Foundation for Education Research has carried out an exhaustive analysis of the impact of the BSF programme on attainment and found no evidence that either new school buildings or a combination of new build and refurbishment has had a positive effect on educational outcomes.

‘That isn’t to say there aren’t certain minimum standards that all school buildings should meet, but any money spent on creating buildings that go above and beyond those is not a good investment.’



Readers' comments (7)

  • I can think of several more reasons to get rid of him too.

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  • It is very worrying that someone in his position seems unaware that there is more to architecture than the 'big image'.

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  • Why stop there, go for Dave, Nick and George as well!

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  • Come on everyone ......... admit it, we've had it good since 1997 and been at the heart of the capital spending in the UK.
    So let's have less slagging off of a Minister who dares to think differently - especially by practices with silly names.

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  • A more fitting (and humiliating) outcome for Gove would be for him to issue a formal public apology and concede that the profession be permitted - like we should need permission - to be involved in the future of school design. Perhaps the model of template schools is not a bad one providing they are well designed by good architects and are flexible enough to respond appropriately to context.

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    Coupled with Toby Young's ridiculous, continuing diatribe about the benefits (or not) of good architecture for it's users, Gove's comments smack of a Monty Python-esque witch hunt, directed for comedy effect at the wrong people, whilst the audience watches on, open mouthed...unsure whether to laugh or cry. This has to be one of the most bizarre sequences of minister mishandling, for all the wrong reasons.

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  • 'It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!'

    You guys really should get out more and join the real world, then you might notice that the era of large scale building projects, using other people's money, is over for a long while at least.

    If you want to prove how essential good architecture is to the nation's future: get off your backsides, organise a free school, sort out the funding and do a design to prove it.

    I've seen a few Education Ministers come and go and Michael Gove is by far the most impressive for a long time. His predecessors preferred to tell us everything was getting better by dropping standards instead of working out how to genuinely raise them. If that means we're not going to get as much work, well so be it.

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