A reader responds to Building’s skills survey article

Zaha Hadid

Source: Giovanna Silva

Do too many architects want to be ‘starchitects’ like Zaha Hadid?

I read Building’s news piece on the results of the Skills Survey report, carried out by RIBA Appointments, with interest (“Universities failing architecture students, says RIBA Survey”, 6 February 2015, page 12).

I completely agree with the survey’s finding that the vast majority of architecture students and graduates are leaving architecture schools lacking the knowledge to build what they design. In my view, this is because too many architects today have an obsession with “starchitecture” and becoming the next “starchitect”.

Skills that were once integral to an architect’s skill set appear to be being abandoned in favour of a sole focus on design. Engineering, project management and contract management are fundamental skills that an architect needs to possess to actually build what they design, and ensure the delivery of a functional, cost effective building for the client and end user.

In continental Europe architectural students spend a year studying engineering as part of their degree, which isn’t really the case in the UK, and we should ask why.

This “design only” obsession is having a negative impact on the architectural profession as a whole. There is of course a place for entertaining “starchitecture” but architecture is about much more than good design alone.

Up-and-coming architects need to appreciate the importance of the less glamorous elements of the profession if they are to deliver truly great buildings.

Steve Hale, managing director, Crofton Design, via email