We write as the RIBA Presidents at the time of the passing of the Architects Act from which the ARB derives its authority to protect the title 'architect' and regulate the competence and conduct of those who choose to practice using that honourable title. We have both also served as architect-elected ARB Board Members.
Ten years ago architects showed how much they valued both registration and protection of title. Protection of function, however attractive it seemed to some architects, was, in our opinion, both unachievable and unworkable. The profession, after an epic struggle, was able to persuade parliament that protection of title should be retained and the interests of consumers should be protected with the formation of the ARB. The majority of lay members on the board is entirely consistent with its consumerprotecting watchdog role.
The logic of the current arrangement is simple. The ARB exists to speak for consumer interests. The function of the RIBA and other associated professional bodies is to advance architecture and architectural practice and thus develop the knowledge base of the profession. The schools of architecture have the critically important role of supporting the development of this body of knowledge and passing it on to future generations of architects.
These three functions are complementary and ought to be mutually supportive. Where interests and responsibilities overlap, differences should be resolved by debate and, if necessary, compromise. So much of the in-fighting we have seen since the ARB was set up has been a tragic waste of time and energy.
The ARB Reform group now has an agenda and a remit from the profession. We believe that this remit must be employed to resolve problems, not recreate them. Certainly it is not a remit to endanger protection of the title 'architect', which the great majority of the profession not only treasures but relies upon every day. The time has come to stop indulging in impossible dreams, whispering in corners, and throwing bricks over the fence that separates Portland Place from Weymouth Street. We appeal to the three parties, the RIBA, the ARB and the schools, to work together to further the art, science and practice of architecture in the best interests of both the public and the profession.
Owen Luder and Frank Duffy, by email