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Competition strength of RIAS eludes Murphy

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Once again Richard Murphy, our very own grumpy old man, makes sure the truth never gets in the way of a good sound bite (AJ 16.9.04).

The simple fact is that the RIAS has a stronger competitions unit than ever before - not only in endeavouring to maximise the potential of design competitions as a means of promoting quality in the selection of architects and their end product, but also in ensuring that these competitions and the projects they promote are real.

Richard Murphy Architects and Sutherland Hussey have been as vocal as I in the past over unvalidated competitions and I am sure they would not wish to return to the days when many 'clients' pillaged architects' intellectual property and gained not a little publicity for their organisations, only to be revealed as men of straw.

What we need to encourage is the widening of the competition system across local and central government to ensure that those with finance to invest in education, healthcare and other public works adopt a broader cultural approach and invest also in quality in design and placemaking.

Many believed that the architectural competition system in Scotland was doomed in the wake of the Fraser Inquiry into the Holyrood project. However, I now believe that the publication of Lord Fraser's report has exonerated the competition process.

The RIAS is currently working on an advisory manual for architectural competitions in conjunction with the Architecture Policy Unit, which we hope to publish shortly and disseminate to a wider audience to encourage quality in the built environment and assist in widening opportunities for architects to engage in this process.

As for OJEC? well, we are all Europeans now.

Gordon Murray, president, RIAS, Edinburgh

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