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Awards should go toclients, not architects

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Letters

For a number of years I have been suggesting to various presidents and members of the riba that they might wish to consider giving riba Awards to clients primarily, and architects and others secondarily. It has always seemed odd to me that architects give each other prizes - all depending on 'the taste' of about two or three architect judges (and we lay members - a role I have been privileged to fill from time to time - incidentally, a good way to lose some architect friends if they are not chosen for an award). I know the film industry gives itself prizes, but an environment is more important and less superficial than mere celluloid and has to do with affecting the day-to-day lives of people. Architecture is more important than art ('all art is useless') - but is so often portrayed as art; for example, most photographs of architecture exclude people - what an insult!

If, say, 22,000 architects were given the opportunity to judge and vote, that might be an improvement in the system, but it still fails to reward the original creator - the client. More attention to the client and the people would go a long way to improving the image and pr of architects, who most of the time seem to be talking to, or writing to, or giving prizes to each other. I am not saying that these activities are not enjoyable - but they might be missing the point.

The architect and other consultants could be highlighted in any such award - but let us not forget it is the initial courage and choice of the client that starts the process and creates (and usually pays for) work for architects and others - including architectural magazines, architectural journalists, etc. Without clients there would not be any awards. If it came to pass, perhaps there should be a large jury with more lay people and clients included.

With the current ideas for the future of the riba, including education and possibly lay members of the riba under discussion, it might be opportune to include the riba Client Award in its agenda.

CLYDE MALBY

Purley, Surrey

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