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Friday01 August 2014

Michael Gove in new attack on 'award-winning architects'

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Secretary of State for Education again uses public platform to accuse profession of getting rich at public expense

Secretary of state for education Michael Gove has launched a new attack on “award-winning architects”, singling out Richard Rogers by name.

Having twice already enraged the profession by claiming those working on the BSF programme were “creaming off cash”, Gove suggested that no-one involved in setting up free schools were there to “make architects richer”.

Following a Q&A session at a Free Schools conference on Saturday he said: “We won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school, we won’t be getting any ‘Award winning architects’ to design it, because no-one in this room is here to make architects richer.”

Pascale Scheurer, director at Surface to Air Architects attended the conference because she is setting up a free school as a parent in Hackney.

She said she took exception to the minister’s comments.

“On education I agree with him but why is he insulting architects?” she asked, adding that Gove had “put his hands to his face” in surprise when she’d later told him she is an architect.

RIBA president Ruth Reed said: “Architects have an essential role to play in improving our school estate, whether this is through the design of new buildings or leading refurbishment projects. Good design is conducive to a better learning environment, and architects have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to deliver this.”

“Some school projects delivered in recent years have wasted too much time and money due to an extraordinarily inefficient procurement system. Good school design certainly costs no more – and in the long term is almost always cheaper - than designing poor, inappropriate or ineffective school buildings. Achieving the best learning environment requires an informed and involved client and the right architect for the job.”

“We will continue to call on Michael Gove and the government to recognise the importance of good design in schools and elsewhere and the vital role for architects in delivering that.”

Richard Rogers was unavailable to comment.

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Readers' comments (47)

  • Shouldn't the RIBA be doing more than just writing letters.! The trouble with Ruth Reed penning a stinging reply to the jolly Mr Gove is that he most likely didn't read it. Indeed, Gove managed to embarass himself with simple arithmetic during his recent appearance on Question Time and given his letters to the Schools regarding the BSF funding were riddled with grammatical errors,he might not have understood the sting.!?

    It's an affront to the reputation of our industry and Architects are in danger of once again being the social pariahs.! The RIBA should giving the public a bit of perspective and Mr Gove a proper ear bashing. The long and short is that the RIBA should be doing more. Much more. We should be protesting outside of the RIBA for action. The RIBA should be deeply embarrassed with their efforts thus far.

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  • urbansurgery

    The trouble being that the PFI process has in fact allowed some (most likely contractor led teams, not architects) to grow fat at the public expense. The mistake he makes is assuming (sadly) that the architect is at the head of that particular food chain

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  • Alisa Selezneva

    "Making architects richer"...surely would not be difficult considering so many are jobless/ pennyless and the rest had massive paycuts...

    BTW - What is it with Michael Gove and architects? Surely there must be some personal history involved...like being bullied at school by someone who later became an architect?

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  • Mike Duriez

    The problem is that architects are not naturally Tory. Natural Tory professions - such as lawyers or management consultants - can cream till the cows come home, while Gove whips "rich" architects. This kind of perversion, however, is a more naturally Tory pleasure.

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  • Michael Gove is clearly thinks that architects are like solicitors or medical consultants earning hundreds of thousands. He has managed to offend just about everyone in the profession with his ridiculous and insulting comments.

    As a fully qualified architect for some years now, I still drive a knackered old car and take home a wage that just about covers the basic cost of living. More work will keep me employed but it certainly won't make me any richer!

    Shame on the RIBA for not defending us on this issue.

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  • Gove: "Like Chairman Mao, we’ve embarked on a Long March to reform our education system".

    Sounds right so far.

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  • One minute he bashes the profession for 'creaming off' BSF etc, then praises one of the most innovative architects who built an academy school, who he then mentions is his favourite architect, now he is bashing the architecture profession again.

    He is an endless joke, no wonder why he is a gift to the opposition parties as he can't even keep straight with his own policies!!!!!

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  • Here, here Mr Petford. Where is the RIBA? There is no voice out there to counteract his ridiculous assertions - just deafening silence. Somebody needs to get stuck in.

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  • With so many architects laid off over the last two years and so many useless councillors and MP's still in employment with great pensions and very little real work to do, I think it is fairly safe to say it's not the architects milking the system. I'm not an architect, I just simply don't understand the criticism, who else is going to design great spaces and buildings.

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  • This is getting a bit ridiculous now, how much more guff from this and the likes of Toby Young do we put up with? This kind of ill informed rubbish is what the public are listening too, not 'stinging' letters from RIBA. Who is putting our side across?

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