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Robert Adam

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Comments (8)

  • Comment on: The coronavirus crisis calls for a new moral and aesthetic code for architecture

    Robert Adam's comment 9 April, 2020 7:24 pm

    Oh dear, architects must ‘stop following style or theory’ and then ‘we must work to create bold forms’, what is this but the same old Hegelian theory turned into style. Well, maybe things will be different, maybe not. Is it just possible that old vernacular was an efficient use of locally available materials? Why can’t architects say something sensible without going over the tired old ‘we must look different’ mantra.

  • Comment on: Claims that only one kind of architecture is for the future are meaningless

    Robert Adam's comment 10 March, 2020 12:45 pm

    Ref. Paul's comments: I do explicitly identify 'modernism' as a theory of history and not a style. After that it's about how we use words and what they mean. Modern has several meanings. The use of 'modern' as a description of what's happening today is common and it does include, but not explicitly, new things. Another meaning is things that are unique to now. To claim that modernist theory (the age defined by what is unique - Hegelian historicism - encompasses this is misleading and, often, intentionally so.
    As for TrimTrab, whoever that is, if ideas don't matter to you, don't bother reading about them and keep on with virtue signalling. Yawn.

  • Comment on: Rab Bennetts on novation: ‘Delivery is an essential part of design’

    Robert Adam's comment 18 February, 2017 3:57 pm

    Rab,
    We have had exactly that problem. We were supplanted by an architect who the client had told that our fees had been paid. They hadn't but the architect was, under the Code at that time, obliged to contact us to see if there were any issues. As a consequence, I threatened to take him to the RIBA for a breach of Code and the end result was that I got paid (but didn't do the rest of the job and didn't want to work for a crooked client anyway). More recently, when we've been supplanted it has been made clear to us that there in no obligation event to inform the original architect. This is appalling, what is the purpose of a professionl institution if it is not for mutual support and protection?
    Robert

  • Comment on: Rab Bennetts on novation: ‘Delivery is an essential part of design’

    Robert Adam's comment 16 February, 2017 5:38 pm

    Rab is right to bemoan the outcome of delivery architects, to which I would add novation culture, but there are plenty of architects who can design and deliver quite satisfactorily. Perhaps the 'stars' have a problem with construction and site inspection, but most of us don't.
    Novation is often just a means of avoiding tax, straight fees attract VAT if it's wrapped up in new-build construction it doesn't. For this reason an architect who has designed the project is novated to the design-build contractor. Of course, this is just a means of wrapping up all the risk in the construction process and has nothing to do with design as an aesthetic exercise and everything to do with 'build'. So the architect ends up being paid by the firm who wants to do as little as possible for as much as possible whereas he designed the building for someone who wants to get as much as possible for as little as possible. The result is that the architect gets tied up into a value-engineering exercise driven by the contractor. If the architect complains they just won't be asked and certainly won't be paid for fighting for design quality.
    This is so pernicious that I really don't understand why the RIBA has not taken a stand on it. Many years ago they called in major developers who said this is what they wanted to do, so the RIBA just rolled over.
    On the other hand there is the culture of the delivery or executive architect. These are often just cheaper - because in the end they don't care that much and are quite happy to go along with compromising the design, after all it isn't theirs.
    All of this culture militates against good design making it through the construction process. Well-known architects are employed to get planning consent, executive architects are employed to make it cheaper. The planners are ill-equipped and under-resourced to do anything about it.
    In 2010 the RIBA Planning Group came up with a model Section 106 agreement, prepared by lawyers, that provides a means of tying the design team to the execution of the building. In fact, it is done by means of a 'design monitoring payment' which the applicant pays. If the design team changes there is an 'additional design monitoring payment', at the discretion of the Council. This doesn't tie the client to the architect, which is not possible legally, but it does involve a financial penalty (the idea is that the Council can then pay the original design architect to inspect his or her own work). This was an RIBA document but seems to have disappeared.
    Robert Adam

  • Comment on: Does it matter how Herzog & de Meuron’s Blavatnik school was funded?

    Robert Adam's comment 30 September, 2016 0:17 am

    I must accept that in Tim Wilkinson's opinion my Sackler Library in Oxford is 'perverse' although I'm not sure why or what is wrong with buildings that are 'new ones made to look like recent accretions', as that is what they are - new and recent accretions. But I'm not sure I can accept it being criticised for being 'stuffed by bookstacks'. Er .... it's a library.
    Robert Adam

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