Tuesday, 19 August 2014

RIBA: An organisation for the Artisan or the Buisnessman.

The role of the Royal Institute of British Architects is one of my favourite subjects. Firstly I must declare I am a fully paid up RIBA member and have been for the past 20 years.

However I believe this institution has become increasingly elitist and out of step with the future direction of the wider construction industry. The institution itself can't be blamed as the institution is made up of its members and it is they who are steering the profession on its current direction.

Our profession continues to have an eroding influence and impact on the industry.

My main frustration is that architects are actually absolutely critical to the success of the construction industry as it is they who have the skills to design ,problem solve and communicate better than others in the industry. Construction is about to move into another period of growth and we find ourselfes faced with yet another skills shortage. This suggests to me we are training people with the wrong skills.

Architecture today has moved away from buisness or craft and has become an art form aligned more with painting and sculpture within Universities rather than the built environment. Obviously there is a place for this however construction needs pragmatic designers who can solve problems and work as part of the team.

Architectural practice has become a cottage industry and very artisan. The vast majority of architectural practices in the UK employ fewer than 5 people. These same practices complain that they do not get a share of the large projects being advertised by the public or private sector. This can be no surprise. Which organisation would take a multi million pound risk on a small under resourced buisness. To be able to invest in training, infrastructure and research and development architectural practices have to generate a reasonable level of turnover.

Only 3% of UK of architectural practices employ over 50 people. This means there are likely only 30 UK architectural businesses of a scale able to respond to the needs of the industry. It is therefore little wonder that the status of the architect in the design team is being eroded as project managers and BIM coordinators along with other professions look to fill the roles normally the domain of the architect.

The most successful architectural practice in the UK on any metric has to be Foster and Partners. This is a creative business with a global reach which is operated as a business. I have calculated that this one organisation is responsible for 8% of the total architectural revenue in the UK.

It seems to me that architects and the RIBA have given up on 21st century business and prefer to be associated with artists and sculptors.

This is not the profession I studied all of those year to be a part of. I want to make a difference to as many peoples lives as possible. I want to improve the industry and innovate so we can deliver more and better buildings.

I believe there is now an opportunity for a new profession for those who still want to make an impact and invest in the long term future of the profession and industry.

How about Robs Instutute of Business Architects?

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