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Traditional architects reveal 'six immutable principles' for profession


Six ‘immutable’ principles to be adopted by all architects and urban designers have been drawn up by a thinktank of the world’s leading traditional architects

The half-dozen fundamental doctrines were drawn up following an international conference in February at the Art Worker’s Guild, which brought together members of the International Network for Traditional Building Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU) and the Traditional Architecture Group (TAG)

Presentations from INTBAU and other from 12 different countries preceded a discussion concerning the issues, problems and opportunities facing architects and urban designers.

Six principles were then agreed that would serve to maintain diversity, serve communities and advance the quality of life.

Robert Adam, chair of the INTBAU College of Chapters, said: ‘Architecture and urban design must be democratic, reinforce community identity and provide a better environment.

‘The Queen Square Statement offers a framework that can be accepted by all professionals and educators for free, diverse and responsive practice.’

Adam believes that with major economic shifts combining with the shrinking of the state, architecture is at a crossroads and to guarantee the integrity of the architectural world, principles are needed to maintain standards.

‘While the future is unknown, these principles are immutable,’ Adam stated.

Adam maintains that the conference was less concerned with architects and more with people, places and communities.

He believes that the principles are not hard to follow, even with two camps emerging- the public, and the ‘Modernists’.

‘There can be no partisan or ideological limitations to the pursuit of these objectives,’ Adam added. 

The Six Progressive Principles

1. Architecture and urban design serve the public. The views of the public should be respected and expert opinion should be moderated by democratic principles. Diversity in architecture and urban design should be encouraged and made freely available for informed public choice.

2. Architecture and urban design are liberal disciplines. In a liberal discipline different ideologies and principles will coexist and be practised and debated without obstruction or constraint. While adherents of differing ideologies and principles will support their views with passion and vigour, progress will always depend on mutual respect and freedom of practice and expression.

3. Architectural and urban design education trains professionals who will serve the public. Education should always be a liberal discipline. Students should be given a full breadth of history, knowledge and practice in all building, architectural and urban design types and principles. Education in architecture and urban design should provide positive support for the pursuit of different design philosophies without obstruction or constraint.

4. Identity is fundamental to human society. Identity of place is a key component in the make-up of individual and community identity. Global uniformity is threatening the distinctive identity of local places. Architecture and urban design should support and promote the identity of place for local communities. New buildings and places should be understood by communities as a contribution to their understanding of the identity of their place.

5.The efficient use of energy, raw materials and water are major challenges for the future of mankind. All avenues of research and understanding should be investigated to this end. These will include scientific, economic and social studies. An understanding of the techniques, practices and living patterns of periods before energy became easily available can make a significant contribution to the advancement of energy conservation today.

6. Growing population, changing lifestyles and an increasing consumption of energy have created major pressures on towns and cities. Urban life encompasses health, living conditions, employment, movement, social interaction and recreation as well as the design of buildings and places. Architecture and urban design should take into account all aspects of urban life to create durable places that can be enjoyed by all sectors of society now and for the future.


Readers' comments (7)

  • Sounds like Ellsworth Toohey...

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  • rhetoric bollocks straight out of an ayn rand novel as the previous comment implies...

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  • How sad to hide behind anonymity

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  • Intelligent people disagree intelligently, that way everyone learns. People with no brains insult anonymously because they don't want to learn or can't make a sensible argument. Sad really.

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  • John Kellett

    I'm really not certain about "expert opinion should be moderated by democratic principles". Expert opinion should always be 'informed' or 'respect' those 'democratic principles' but the most popular solution is often not the best!
    Architectural ideologies and styles (subjective) are different. Most are valid and continue to fall in and out of favour throughout history. Bad design (objective), no matter how much it may be 'desired' by the un-informed and design-illiterate, should never be tolerated. Especially as a result of moderation by democratic principles!
    The problem in a democratic society is, of course, to be able to differentiate between the subjective and the objective.

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  • To John Kellet, an interesting response and probably quite popular with the design professions. I'm not sure what 'objective' bad design might be. I know what I think it is but why am I right? I know some design professional disagree strongly. At least an expert view might be 'moderated' by democratic principles, this is not at all the same as being dictated by them. In the end, who is the design for? Of course, taste will change but that's not a good reason for ignoring present taste. No one know which way taste will change and past taste when long past just becomes interesting.

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  • John Kellett

    An example of objective bad design would be the very large traditional sash window into a small bathroom (apparently clear glazed) as featured in project seen in the "3 Classicists" exhibition or perhaps cedar cladding 10 storeys up in the air as is quite 'fashionable' at the moment!
    Town-planners and conservation officers insisting on repeating a bad detail just because it's 'historic' or insisting that 'in keeping' means 'copying' are other examples.

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