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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

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Architects have a grand old tradition of kissing goodbye to all sources of professional income that carry no risk, little graft, get you out and about, and are fun. First there was estate agency, then there was interior design, and now, God help us, there is the authority to give advice on the manipulation of architectural space with a view of making your life more comfortable and convenient, or Feng Shui.

Saturday's Daily Telegraph contained the tale of a couple whose life had been transformed by a 'Feng Shui counsellor' who recommended that they build a false ceiling to avoid the trauma of staring at the underside of a pitched roof, rip out their fitted wardrobe, excise their clutter, and all 'because every room should have a function'. In other words, an opinionated follower of the slightly more recent science of Fung-She-Nal- Ism or even the respected Min-I-Mal School could have done as much with, or without, knobs on. Extended to urban issues, the sensation of a counsellor laughing all the way to a correctly positioned bank becomes overwhelming. The client's sales office was at a T-junction which caused oncoming traffic to form 'poisoned arrows': he was duly told to move, and sold his business.

The cheek with which the 'experts' at this 'science' have swept aside all pretenders to spatial quackery is awesome. But the amounts of potential professional income involved should make any institution with the slightest pretension to protecting our interest, ie the riba, first, weep for shame, and second, get off its bloated, communal backside and fill the papers with the dazzlingly successful outcomes of properly informed consultation with architects.

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