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'Conservative' reform is more radical than Roche

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You report (News, AJ 1.4.04) that Chris Roche's latest radical position is to believe that there is a 'conservative' conspiracy at the RIBA to remove registration, which should be resisted. I wonder if he could be tempted to consider that the reverse might be the true radicalism.

In the first hundred years or so of its existence, the RIBA's top strategic priority was to create a system of education, examination, validation and recognition for architecture, open to all, whether they intended to join the institute or not - a great public service. In the 1920s, it arrived at a fork in the road and chose the route of protection of the word 'architect', despite warnings to its leadership that this might in time damage what the RIBA and its charter represented.

It is difficult to detect any benefits to architecture or society from the 70-year history of this limited restriction. And the most recent events border on farce: it is salutary to try the simple litmus test of transposing the ARB episodes to the RIBA - they would be unimaginable.

(Ian Salisbury is a pussy cat compared with the radical tearaways I remember, such as Bryan Jefferson and Rod Hackney - was it their fate to be gagged and harassed? ) So is not the radical option to reconsider a concept adopted, by no means unanimously, in very different circumstances following the First World War? I believe that the profession has now arrived at another choice of route, leading either to increasing stultification or to growing dynamism. The latest two presidents have already embarked on the latter road - their efforts should not be undermined.

Peter Gibbs-Kennet, Bisley, Gloucestershire

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