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Bartlett teacher argues for an 'institute for illegal architects'

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A hilarious and scabrous attack on architectural institutions (the riba in particular) is launched this week in a lecture at the Bartlett by teacher Jonathan Hill.

His book, The Illegal Architect, is published next week (Black Dog, £12.95), and takes further a polemic launched at an exhibition in 1996, which argues that an institute is required which embraces the illegal architect. Such an architect is one who is also a user, and who works with users to achieve their objective, for whom 'architecture can be made of anything, anywhere, anyhow, by anyone'. This is by contrast to the 'didactic prescriptive architects inside the institution', and the 'passive receptive user outside'.

The riba is dismissed as a 'mechanism for the protection and propagation of the cultural status of the profession', while the arb administers architects' legal status: 'The riba, the public face of the profession, is located in a grand and elegant building on Portland Place. The arb is sited in a nondescript building in a side street at the rear of the riba . . . (they) are the conflicting halves of a pantomime donkey.' Or, if you prefer, they represent the embassy of the profession, combining the roles of home and police station - with the arb cast as the passport office, 'placed firmly out of sight'.

Full of aphorisms ('like a child who cannot discard a teddy bear, the architect who fails to look beyond the drawing is unable to grow up'), Hill's lecture concludes with the suggestion that his proposed institute and the riba should converge under Portland Place via their respective lavatories, 'no longer gendered'.

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