Are architects really sexist? After Building's exposé of the profession's "macho culture" last week, there comes a company website that does nothing to refute this notion. Walker and Martin's www.walkerandmartin.co.uk is based on a virtual office, and features scantily clad young women. Click on "notes", and you are informed that receptionist Debbie (34C-24-35) likes shopping, rugby players, chocolate and drinks with umbrellas in them, but dislikes hairy backs and men with small hands/feet/noses. Oh, and she's a part-time glamour model. Also to be found (behind the bar in the boardroom) is Kylie, (38D – "what else!") a cocktail waitress who likes firemen. I suspect the architects are trying to tickle our ribs. Wouldn't it be a shame if it backfired?
Drink it with a pinch of salt
On the subject of attracting more females into the sector, I attended a Building Work for Women event last week in which chairperson Sandi Rhys-Jones described in those clipped, well-modulated tones of hers how her organisation was "rather like Heineken". What – bland, weak and gassy? No. BWW, it refreshes the parts of the industry other bodies can't reach.
A pointed critique
No longer does architectural enfant terrible Will Alsop whinge about not winning big-time commissions. "I've beaten Norman [Foster] three times," he crowed at the RIBA's annual conference last weekend, referring to his competition-winning schemes for Marseilles' regional government building, Rotterdam's central station redevelopment and, most recently, Liverpool's Fourth Grace. "All Foster's buildings are pointy," he continued, "and my conclusion is that you can't do pointy buildings in ports. There are enough pointy bits in ports already."
Ah, the insight, the eloquence … Surely a career as an architecture philosopher-king beckons.
Dream the impossible dream
Is there no end to the glut of construction-related television programmes? On top of the scores of DIY shows pumped over the airwaves comes another that will show construction professions. This time it is the award-winning Channel 4 show Faking It, in which people attempt to convince us that they can pass themselves off in professions amusingly dissimilar from their current metier. The producers are looking for male architects aged 25-40. The detail missed out here, is what, exactly, the architects will be trying to pass themselves off as. Surely not builders?
The capital of Genitalia?
And finally, my thanks to Sir Peter Hall, director of University College London's Institute of Community Studies, and Britain's greatest living geographer, for his sparkling contribution to this magazine's birthday supplement, Building160. However, I confess to being somewhat intrigued by Sir Peter's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Does it contain a hidden meaning?