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Architecture: The fightback starts here

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In the wake of the slaughter of BSF and mounting redundancies, we must show the public how essential architects are, saysChristine Murray

Architects and their designs are superfluous, costly, wasteful and unnecessary, or so Michael Gove would have the public believe in the wake of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) slaughter, which we covered in last week’s AJ.

And now we learn that design decisions regarding the capital building programme will be left to a committee, which includes the group operations director of Dixons and the director of property services at Tesco. If you voted for Cameron or Clegg, are you regretting it now?

It’s a sad, sad week for architecture. We knew the cuts were coming, and that BSF was a likely target, but it still hurts when the AJ ticker tape reels off redundancies in the profession, again. Just as painful is the resurging myth that architectural design is excess fat on the meat of a building programme that can, and must, be cut away. It’s a powerful myth, and one that must be countered.

All too often architects are perceived as lapdogs of the rich and powerful, there to design footballers’ homes, and not much use to the common folk. We must educate the public about what architects really do, so that they can take slurs on the profession from Gove and others with a pinch of salt.

We’ve got to think big to fight all this negative press: a protest rally in Trafalgar Square, a mass design-in where architects offer free advice to the public, architects dressed as superheroes scale Westminster and… draw Westminster to scale? We need to get some honest press for practitioners, by practitioners, to show the world just how helpful, how useful, how essential architects can be. If you have an idea and would like a media partner, we’re here for you (as long as it’s legal). Do get in touch.

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