The Architecture Club broke with convention last week by lifting the Chatham House Rules which dictate that its proceedings cannot be reported in the press, in deference to the fact that AJ editor Isabel Allen was in the chair. The debate, which took place at London's Royal Automobile Club, asked whether architecture is being sidelined in this age of PPP, D&B, PM, CM, PFI and branding, and asked how architects should rise to the challenge. Roland Paoletti urged architects to fight to regain a leading role in large construction projects, while Robin Nicholson offered an optimistic view of the future, arguing that grumblers should 'stop whingeing and get on with it'. The advice was manifestly ignored by fellow speaker Richard Murphy, who offered a spirited tirade against PFI, arguing that it works against small projects and that the logical outcome of its rise is that 'we will all end up working for WS Atkins'.
He did, however, concede that PFI can be appropriate for projects where the primary, and arguably only, architectural challenge is to transport matter from A to B - namely, sewage plants.