Founding Director of Matter Architecture, with Jonathan McDowell.
RIBA Research Trust Award recipient 2016.
MArch Part 2 tutor at University of East London
Quite right and good that these shortcomings continue to be raised, but we need some practical ideas to improve things as well as pointing out the problems. Some more thoughts here:
Read the full report here
A lovely, considered scheme. London needs more architecture like this.
As the co-chair of ArchitectsE17, a local voluntary group who are working to raise the aspirations for good design in Waltham Forest, we approached Countryside and Stitch early on to discuss holding a design review as a pilot and demonstration for the Borough. Both the architects and developer were keen on the idea, but it wasn't supported by the Council. This is a desparate shame - the scheme is not bad - but it is a controversial redevelopment that is fundamentally affecting a whole community and will undoubtedly change the nature of a very unique part of town (Wood Street), with a dense network of independent businesses and a Georgian indoor market. Any such complex scheme would undoubtedly be better after a process of design review, but alas another opportunity has been missed by Waltham Forest.
Ben Darbyshire's points are well made: there is a need for reform of education and its currently underway. As are some of the other points above: creative architectural skills are difficult to develop without technical knowledge to say the least and the apparently increasing gap between practice and education in general is undoubtedly problematic. Schools are responding to this in different ways: at UEL we have a long history of live construction projects in the local community, of tutors who are practicing architects, of integrating professional practice into studio work and of combining traditional drawing and model-making skills with new digital technologies. This month we established a school-based practice to develop this area further.
This is not the whole picture though, and hence why the differences amongst schools is important - a healthy culture also contains extremes. Architectural education has to tread a fine line between being both practically relevant and creatively and intellectually explorative. We are not only training today's Architects, but tomorrow's. The world was radically different 30 years ago and will be different again in 30 years. On the other hand, current graduates can't wait 30 years for the right job to come along. The two positions are not mutually exclusive.
What I advocate is a stronger and perhaps more equal relationship between practice and education as a whole. That means being able to ask each other tough questions and gain, learn and challenge one another. Hellman's cartoon neatly satirises the debate by showing the extremes, but there are plenty of Architects who are not divas with an army of slaves and plenty of schools not churning out divas. We probably do need a few divas though hopefully not slaves. In spite of the apparent 'crisis' we still have a globally admired architectural education system based on a varied culture and a globally admired practice culture that is equally varied. They need adjusting and bringing closer together, but they are not broken; let's be careful not to over-fix them.
MArch Part 2 leader and Director of the Civic Architecture Office at UEL