A controversial speech given by Ken Shuttleworth to an audience of engineers has been criticised by FCBS boss Keith Bradley
Make Architects founder Ken Shuttleworth has publicly accused architects of taking credit for engineers’ work, describing his fellow professionals as ‘arrogant, egotistical, prima donnas, pain in the arses, and absolute bastards’.
In a speech at the recent CIBSE Building Performance Awards in front of an audience of more than 700, Shuttleworth said of architects that they had been ‘king of the castle for far too long’ adding: ‘Architects take all the credit for all [engineers’] hard work…‘You [engineers] need to tell the architects, when they try to call the shots, to sod off.’
The head of the 2014 AJ100 practice of the year, who said he had been campaigning for the ‘death of the glass box’ for many years, added: ‘I’m a bit of a rebel architect because I know that you do all the work. You make the architects look good. It’s so unfair but it’s time to change.’
The audience at the event - which was held earlier this month - included just a handful of architects and Shuttleworth’s speech was met by cheers.
But Keith Bradley of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS), who was in the audience, said: ‘It’s a pity that Ken used the opportunity to caricature the architect as arrogant (apart from himself), rather than using the opportunity to encourage real collaboration and respect between engineers and architects.
‘The UK has a fantastic reputation for integrated architecture and engineering projects. This could have been celebrated rather than a tabloid like rant that divides rather than unites those of us who are trying to work together to promote a common attitude to the built environment.’
‘In Ken’s attempt to light-heartedly provoke he has just reinforce certain prejudices , and in doing so turned the clock back a few annoying minutes on years of collaborative progress.’
Later in his talk at the event, held at London’s Grosvenor House, Shuttleworth singled out the behaviour of starchitects for particular criticism.
He said: ‘Celebrity architects - or as they are known in the business starchitects – have taken over with their dazzling shirts, their big watches, and their big pointy shiny erections.
‘This has to stop. You should stand up to them and tell them what they don’t want to hear’, he told the audience of more than 700.
He went on: ‘I have a dream of a world without starchitects. A world where engineers lead the charge. A world where buildings no longer need their own personal power plant to keep them going. A world where buildings work in harmony with nature. This is the new age of the engineer. This is your time – your moment in the limelight. Never has there been a moment where people are so aware of how fragile the planet is. Never has there been a more exciting time to be an engineer.’
Hywel Davies, CIBSE technical director
‘Ken’s speech played on some well worn caricatures for laughs – but to make an important point: collaboration between engineers and architects has come a long way, and is more important than ever to deliver buildings that really work. The CIBSE Building Performance Awards celebrate demonstrated excellence in actual, measured performance; this can only be achieved by collaboration and teamwork. And not just between architects and engineers, but right through the supply chain and then over the full life cycle of the building. Buildings that perform are not solos, but sustained team efforts embracing many players.’
Rob Pannell, managing director of Zero Carbon Hub
‘An enjoyable and inspirational speech highlighting the challenge architects face understanding the engineers needs.’
Julia Evans, BSRIA
‘Ken gave an enlightened and humorous view into the relationship between engineers and architects, he himself having been described as an ‘engineer in architects’ clothing. His speech was thought provoking and wry which is a great combination for encouraging people to see the world from a different angle. His key message however was about communication and partnering surely a continuing theme in this world of BIM and Soft Landings and one that we would all do well to ponder.’
Paul Tymkow, director of learning and knowledge, Hoare Lea
‘It was refreshing to hear a venerable architect admit something that we have known for some time: the traditional roles and relationships have not caught up with the need to deliver sustainable building performance; and to do this we need to empower engineers. This requires a big cultural shift for engineers, and it will be difficult, but it has already started. We need Ken and others to continue championing in the right places; and we must support our engineers in responding to the challenge.’