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Wednesday30 July 2014

Abolishing Arb would be in step with Tory times

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The reality is that architects would be better off lobbying community minister Don Foster to reform Arb

Amanda Baillieu

Amanda Baillieu — editor in chief

David Cameron visited the new Birmingham Library on Tuesday before slipping off for a birthday curry. In many ways it was odd the prime minister chose to be photographed outside what is arguably the most important public building under construction. Even before completion, it is an anachronism — from an age when striking buildings, paid for by the public purse, were seen as necessary flagships for regeneration.

Those days are over, of course, but the Tories remain noticeably silent on architecture and regeneration and what one can do for the other.

Housing was on the agenda this week, but placemaking is only discussed through the prism of the “big society” — a phrase the prime minister refuses to bury.

Meanwhile, in her conference speech celebrating British success this summer, new culture minister Maria Miller failed to mention any of the practices that had built Olympic venues. Given the occasion, a few days before the Stirling Prize, this seemed like a missed opportunity.

There was muted cheer when Ed Vaizey was appointed to the DCMS, and architects have high hopes he will push a more design-friendly agenda. But the reality is that architects would be better off lobbying community minister Don Foster to reform Arb.

Arb reform must be on the cards. As well as annoying 99% of the profession — Colin Stansfield Smith, a former Gold Medal winner, makes the point well in this week’s issue — unnecessary bureaucracy is now under scrutiny.

But who should control the register is one question — the RIBA is the obvious candidate — that’s never been coherently answered. The bigger one is: do architects really need their title protected?

It’s an issue that has been raised before, but thanks to Arb’s own foolish remarks last week it’s once again back on the front page.

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Readers' comments (7)

  • This is very poor reporting by BD especially the Editorial claiming ARB annoy 99% of the profession. In all polls taken, the majority of Architects always vote for protecting the title. Architects need to have ARB to independently monitor the profession the same as doctors and lawyers, not an old boys club like RIBA. You wouldn't trust lawyers or doctors to solely monitor themselves without independent oversight. I am a paid up member of the RIBA for the last 20 years but it is intensely bureaucratic inefficient organisation in the grip of elitist architects like Prasad who do not represent the majority of the profession. My concern is that this reporting shows that BD seems to only represent these elitists without providing a balanced view.
    Dominic McSweeney RIBA
    Director
    Brimelow McSweeney Architects

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  • kamichi

    who and why is BD pushing this agenda to remove protection from the profession?

    are they trying to let Kevin McCloud and everyone call themselves an architect?

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  • Amanda Baillieu makes for fantastic reading. Keep up the good work.

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  • Slightly echoing Dominic
    So there's only about 300 of us that aren't irritated?
    When abolition of title protection was promoted by the RIBA before the Act, (without member survey), the membership made it pretty clear it was wanted by the majority.
    The ARB, as created, is an independent registration body, that the RIBA could never have been having done that.
    What we have had since then, it seems, is a sustained campaign by the RIBA, assisted by tall trees members, and some in the press, to take control of registration. It isn't in the public interest, since the RIBA (not the membership) doesn't seem to have accepted protection of title, or promoted protection of function, or done much else positive to do with the profession.

    If anything needs to be done, it is not abolition of the ARB.

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  • kamichi

    Why is BD anti-architect? (Except for their friends, Piers and Ratso)

    Why read BD when there are websites like ArchDaily?

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  • Exactly, kamichi.

    Cheerio, then.

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  • Something needs to be done about the school playground relationship between the RIBA and ARB, but it's not removing ARB.

    We've been here before and last time came very close to losing protection of title. Protection of function is a wonderful thing but, let's stop deluding ourselves, it's just not going to happen. So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater and let's hold on to the title: we've all spent 7 years earning it.

    The RIBA isn't going to take over the functions of ARB without a hike in fee and, quite honestly, I'm far happier to pat £100 or so to ARB than I am to pay£400 or so to the RIBA.

    Remember also that, for all its claims, the RIBA ISN'T a fully national representative organisation: there are plenty of architects working in Scotland who choose to join the RIAS only, for which they get far greater value for money, so the RIBA isn't necessarily the logical place for the protection of title function to sit.

    I am fed up with self-appointed reformers trying to change my professional status on my behalf: every time I have the opportunity to vote for RIBA council, or for ARB the first thing I do is discount the nay-sayers. I WANT my title protected, I see value in that, and I'm happy to pay a relatively modest sum for it.

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