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New RIBA boss Derbyshire pledges fightback against profession’s marginalisation


I welcome any initiative that will reconnect architects with the procurement process, rather than to the design process alone, as has occurred in most public procurement in the last decades. The result of this change in procurement is that design and specification hoped for by architects can be changed by others who have no knowledge of the ramifications of those changes, or who have a direct conflict of interest against the provision of quality and assurance of addressing the needs of those who use the built environment. Also I would suggest that there is an innate corruption in the process where every party is working for the same paymaster, and where independent analysis of design development and construction processes are reduced and necessarily conflicted. I believe that architects are well placed to provide the services needed to remove this conflict, if roles are correctly defined. However, whilst I agree with the idea presented by Mr Derbyshire, he has to accept that the RIBA must take a large part of the blame for much of the marginalisation. Whilst other professions saw the writing on the wall and moved into the void created by the change in procurement processes, the RIBA has allowed the diversion away from the historic central role of the architect, by concentrating upon the promotion of the design alone, rather than the needs of the process and the need for the architect to be at the heart of it. This also extends to their obligations to engage in architectural education, in respect of which the professional context is constantly marginalised and subjugated to the needs of the picture rather than the process. I would suggest that for this initiative to work, the RIBA need not be strengthened on its present course. It needs to change, to change how it does business with the profession and its stakeholders, how it prioritises what it promotes and how it sees what the relevance is of how it is delivered. Right now I would suggest that the RIBA marginalises our profession, by concentrating upon what pleases architects and makes some famous, rather than upon the more mundane aspects of what professional architects operating in the construction industry need to do. If the profession wants to be brought to the table (where it should be) to review the cause and lessons to be learned from the terrible and clearly avoidable Grenfell Tower disaster, it first needs to come down from its own, ivory, tower.

Posted date

5 September, 2017

Posted time

11:42 am


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