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Analysis: Grenfell tragedy highlights architects' marginalisation


This is not the time to mince words. This is the time for the whole architectural; profession to rise up and to say, as one, ‘No more of this!’ If, in the aftermath of the quite appalling, entirely avoidable, Grenfell Tower tragedy it does not, however, do so, its continuing apathetic resignation and defeatism will most certainly doom the whole profession to ‘more of the same’; to yet more diminishment and marginalisation, if such a thing is still at all possible, so low has the once respected profession of architecture already fallen! This AJ article is 'spot-on', and could have been, is, in fact, a distillate of all this writer’s ‘office rants’ over the last thirty-five years or more! But why only now is the architectural profession responding with articles like this AJ one? The shock wave which has been reverberating around the profession since the Grenfell Tower tragedy has generated a good deal of navel-gazing and existential angst, but only six comments in connection with this articles absolutely correct analysis of the very serious built environment problem which has been infecting British society ever since the Thatcher era… Why, however, one might reasonably ask, has this article not generated six hundred (or more) comments from the profession at large? The relative paucity of reader’s responses to this first-rate ‘clarion-call’ AJ article is indicative of the entire problem, which problem is the absolutely apathetic resignation to the fate of the architectural profession (which now, clearly, needs to be much more accurately renamed and redefined as ‘That bunch of unimportant, well down the pecking order, design only sub-contracting utensils of the Thatcherist ‘spiv’s charter’ culture which, from time to time, makes ritual sacrifices on the flaming altar of their god, Mammon, for profit’) which has infected architects ever since the profession was, in the Thatcher era, deregulated. This largely unopposed deregulation led inexorably to the quite disastrous abolition of the nationally applicable fee scale in favour of ‘I will name that tune in one.’, i.e. ‘I will do that scheme for a minute, suicidal, fee.’… when did anyone last hear a solicitor, a barrister, a doctor, or an accountant saying anything like this? Answer: Non of these other professions, solidly backed up by their respective professional bodies such as the BMA, etc., as they always have been, have never said anything remotely like this! It hardly needs this writer to point out that any and all protestations and ‘relevant to the essential root problem’ comments which are, alongside articles like this one, only now beginning to issue forth from within the architectural profession, are, surely, a classic case of ‘far too little, far too late’! Despite these recent ‘stirrings’ the quite unpalatable fact remains that architects in general, and the essentially inert, quisling RIBA, have been hugely culpable over time of kowtowing to the wicked agendas of ‘the spivs' charter’ which was created by Thatcher, and which has been greatly developed and (wrongly!) praised as ‘the new, and better, way of doing things’ by every successive government since Thatcher’s time. In singular contradistinction to this disgraceful resignation and capitulation to ‘the forces of reductive darkness’ which the architectural profession has been guilty of ever since Thatcher first attacked it have been the robust defensive actions which have been continually mounted by the medical, legal, and accounting professions, and by their respective professional bodies, against aggressively deregulating Thatcherite governments ever since 1979! The absolute minimum re-boot of the profession - if it is ever to be re-booted to its pre-1979 level - must surely now commence with the RIBA robustly challenging the government by, amongst other things, flooding the non-specialist press with ‘official letters’ which ask why the heck no architects have been appointed to the government’s “independent group” (which is to be headed by former London fire commissioner Ken Knight) to advise on the ‘immediate’ measures needed to ensure the safety of residents in hundreds of tower blocks around the country. This stinging ‘official slap on the face’ of the whole architectural profession is both quite outrageous and is also indicative of the very low level to which the profession has now fallen! Poisoned by Mammon and by Thatcher’s ‘spiv’s culture’, it has now pretty much reached the rock-bottom ‘point of no return’, has it not? For God’s sake then; the RIBA and its members should wake up, and do something, now, both on behalf of the architectural profession, and on behalf of the public, whose cause and need the once respected architect used, so long ago, it now seems, to disinterestedly serve and protect!

Posted date

2 August, 2017

Posted time

6:12 pm


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