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ARB to investigate role of architects in Grenfell Tower tragedy

Grenfell tower (34552739503) chiraljon

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) will carry out its own investigation into the role of the architects involved in the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy

Studio E Architects completed a £10 million refurbishment of the west London tower block in 2016. The work included installation of Reynobond PE cladding over PIR insulation boards.

The cladding has come under scrutiny, having failed government-backed fire safety tests in all 75 cases where similar systems have been found on tower blocks.

Last week Metropolitan Police detective superintendent Fiona McCormack said the force was considering manslaughter charges against all the companies involved in building or refurbishing Grenfell Tower following the fire, which claimed at least 79 lives earlier this month.

In a statement posted on the ARB’s website, the board said: ‘[We] will be undertaking [our] own investigations as to the involvement of any architects, but [will] not making any further comment unless and until disciplinary matters reach the public domain.’

It added: ‘A number of queries have been raised with ARB in respect of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. In the main these related to the involvement or culpability of architects involved in the refurbishment of the tower. ARB has responsibilities to uphold good standards in the profession, both in terms of regulating the conduct and competence of individual professionals and in ensuring that educational standards are sufficiently robust to produce architects capable of providing high-quality architecture.

‘The exact causes of the fire are yet to be established, and there has been a public Inquiry announced that will seek to establish the facts behind the disaster.’

Studio E Architects has been contacted for comment.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Don't hold your breath - the ARB can't even stop architects from pretending that 'ARB' is a qualification, and masquerading as board members.

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  • The RIBA should lose its charitable status. Not only have they known about the fire hazards of insulated cladding, they should have sounded the alarm over rainscreen systems. Timber cladding with an airspace behind it is a clear and present danger. That may be the next shoe to drop.
    As to the disciplinary process - what a joke!!! As far as I know the architects who designed Oxley Woods, and, even worse - Dartington Primary School, are still in practise with no blemish on their records.
    The UK construction industry needs more training and a method of weeding out errant contractors; Architects must get a better grasp of the practical side of their chosen craft. As I've said before, a good first step would be to bin the building Regulations and adopt the IBC. And, Yes! The RIBA is not fit for purpose.

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  • Although it's being reported that the cost saving on the cladding was 5k, I imagine the QS reported a 15k saving to the Client.

    There is a rotten core to our industry, in this country.

    The Design and Build procurement route has resulted in Developers taking greater control of design and specification. Design Managers and Quantity Surveyors (on projects such as this), are more increasingly strong-arm former on-site men with little formal training and no regulatory body.

    Ultimately, giving 'builders' key decision-making powers, (to which they are not qualified or insured) and relegating the 'experts' to employees is proving to bare quite the cost.

    Architects have long argued that Design and Build doesn't offer good value to the Client. Furthermore, it is now proving to be disastrous to the occupier also. D&B is being utilised as a tool to better position a contractor to ensure the importance of their profits are put over the project. The D&B security of 'cost' to Client, is now proven to be a myth. Sadly, the cost can not be much greater as many lives have been lost in a most horrific event.

    It's time to end D&B. It's time to relegate Contractors and place those best; educated, insured and experienced to make the key design decisions.

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  • Perhaps the ARB could also rouse itself sufficiently to investigate the role of architects in the grotesque failure
    of the Dartington Primary school buildings - or is it already looking at this?

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  • Isn't this a little premature? The Public Enquiry has yet to take place and the ARB are already chomping at the bit to pass judgement. At least wait until the facts are known. It would be great if the board were as keen to haul Architectural practices over the coals for failing to adequately train and support their young architects instead of exploiting them.

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  • Industry Professional

    I was chocked when I heard that residents were told to stay inside their flats while the fire was raging in the building. I thought buildings were supposed to be designed and built to give enough time to people to escape. The person who came up with this idea and the ones implementing it should be prosecuted for murder. The architects involved in this should also ask themselves if they are fit for the job. The ARB protects these architects from "unfair" competition but does not protect the public. It is definitely not fit for it. Too much autocracy and no common sense.

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