Abolishing Arb would be in step with Tory times
The reality is that architects would be better off lobbying community minister Don Foster to reform Arb
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.