Thursday, 29 May 2008

A bit of controversy anyone?

Prominently displayed facing a full page advertisement for Marks and Spencer's line in ladies swimwear is the challenging headline 'Awards for best British buildings leave classicists out in the cold'. A sub headline notes that ,'The RIBA and the architectural profession are behaving like style facists'.

All this on the day that the RIBA is due to reveal the identity of the best new buildings of 2008 - effectively the list of candidates for the coveted Stirling Award.

Robert Adam notes that 'these awards are a con'. Julian Bicknell weighs in by accusing the Institute of 'self-imposed blindness' and notes that 'it is a tragedy that RIBA awards choose to ignore work done in supposedly traditional styles'.

The other side of the debate was put by experienced architectural judge Joanna van Heyningan who noted that 'there is no prejudice against classical architecture, there is a prejudice against poor architecture'.

While all this makes interesting reading for those who last the distance to page 8 in the Guardian, it does raise an interesting question. Despite the fact that most RIBA awards juries have an element of lay representation (and in my experience these representatives have not been backward in expressing opinions), are such awards too often chosen by architects and friends of architecture who are paid up members of the style facisti? Should not the odd classicist be included on the jury from time to time? Are the laity concerned that modern classical architecture is being spurned by the judges? How interested would the viewers of Grand Designs be were the subject to be a painstakingly crafted neo-classical mansion?

Your views and opinions will be welcome - I think.

1 comment:

  1. All professions tend to become introverted and arrogant and architects are among the worst in this respect. Why are they so sensitive and prickly? I do not think it matters a damnm what prizes the RIBA doles out. It all cuts little ice with the british public who care very litle whether buidings are modern,traditionl ,vernacular or classical. On the other hand people are very interested in buildings of all shapes, styles and sizes---- witness the crowds for everything that can be offered over the Open House weekend. The judgements of the great british public are just as good as those of the RIBA.