Listing 13 blog articles for the tag Politics.
The source provided this photograph of an architectural drawing signed off by the engineer as evidence to support their claims
But, surely there are laws to protect those in the profession? Indeed: the unnamed source knows which regulation should apply, but it seems the government have been turning a blind eye for many decades:
In the UK, an architect is not technically required to design a building – as long as a structure passes the planning application process and complies with building regulations, it can go ahead. The key here for architects is to make clients aware of the added value an architect can bring to their project – we must make our case convincingly, so that clients choose us and understand the great benefits of doing so.
Another Philippine user sent in this image of a civil engineer's online portfolio on social media, in which they refer to themselves as "designer" - not "architect" in the legal sense, but nonetheless explicitly claiming authorship of the entire work. It raises the question, what place do architects have in the Philippines?
Significantly, Van Helden also points out the fact that commercial clients’ decision to use engineers over architects does not achieve the one thing they want more than anything else – to reduce costs. Unless a very experienced (and more expensive) contractor is used for such projects, the absence of an architect to oversee the work, manage the design, communicate with consultants and the construction team, and keep a handle on quality control can lead to a higher final bill. Van Helden notes:
70 years ago today, the Second World War ended in Europe, sparking joyous celebrations and an unbridled sense of relief around the globe. While the day itself marks a positive moment in world history, the tragedies that preceded it left an indelible mark upon the memories of millions and will be remembered in perpetuity.
Temple Of Timber: Zaha Hadid’s Ode to Cambodia’s Tragic Past Is Filled With Contradiction, Hypocrisy … And Incredible Beauty
The war in Palestine has gone underground – quite literally.
In recent weeks, conflict has once again erupted in Gaza, and at the center of the crisis lies some of the most controversial subterranean infrastructure in the world. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy a complex network of around 40 ‘terror tunnels’, some of which are over a kilometer in length, used by Hamas militants to infiltrate Israeli territory.
The tunnels were excavated over many years, and whilst their clandestine nature will have necessitated a slow, lo-tech construction process, the passages are nevertheless ambitious in their scale and functionality. They descend up to 30 meters below the surface, have many entrances and branches, and connect to bunkers used as command centers, weapons stores, and safe houses for Hamas’s political and military leaders during Israeli military operations.
Regardless of your political viewpoint on the situation, these tunnels must be noted as extraordinary examples of engineering in impossibly restrictive circumstances. A 1.8km long tunnel discovered in October 2013 was formed entirely from 800 tons of concrete, amounting to 25,000 slabs – and throughout its construction, there was no way to manufacture concrete independently within the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the materials must have been smuggled from Egypt via other tunnels, or brought in by international organizations.
The extent and intricacy of the underground labyrinth is said to have taken Israel’s intelligence agency by surprise – but the tunnels traversing the border between Gaza and Israel pale in comparison to those between the war-torn exclave and Egypt. Used to transport goods and people beneath the heavily patrolled border, the ‘smuggling tunnels’ originally numbered over 1,600 and were more sophisticated than any of the offensive passages currently being dismantled by the Israeli Defense Forces.
The scale of these tunnels was on another level entirely, being one of the Hamas government’s primary projects since the blockade of Gaza began in 2007. At the peak of their utilization, industries connected to smuggling via the tunnel network employed 40,000 to 70,000 people (depending on source), and provided up to 40% of the government’s income. Everything that was forbidden to pass across the border was surreptitiously transported deep beneath the earth – building materials, food, medicine, clothing, livestock, fuel, computers and household goods, as well as weapons and illegal immigrants. Some tunnels were even equipped with fully operational railways, capable of transporting vehicles – 13,000 cars were smuggled into Gaza in 2011 alone.
However, since the ousting of Egypt’s former president Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian Military has been conducting a prolonged campaign to put an end to the tunnels’ use. The techniques used to demolish, dismantle or decommission the smuggling passages have been varied – soldiers have been bulldozing entrances regularly throughout the past year, and the tunnels themselves have reportedly been flooded with everything from concrete, to water, to raw sewerage. As of this month, the total number of tunnels destroyed stands at 1,639 – this secret labyrinth is on the verge of extinction.
Even when both Egypt and Israel declare they have achieved the strategic goal of destroying the tunnels, the reality is that they will never be able to guarantee that the subterranean network has been fully nullified. Entrances to the passages lie beneath civilian houses, branching out from basements and in remote regions where it is easy for construction to remain camouflaged throughout the tunneling process. The former head of Israel’s combat engineering corps Shimon Daniel acknowledges that Hamas will not be easily deterred despite the immense pressure on their infrastructure:
“Of course Hamas will try to rebuild the tunnels. The moment we go out of Gaza, they will begin to dig.”
If what Daniel says is to be believed, it appears the tug of war over construction and demolition of this covert form of architecture will last as long as the Israeli-Palestine conflict itself – and there is no end in sight.
Yours in hiding,
The Angry Architect
The people have spoken. Or at least, the students of UK universities have, and they have confirmed what has long been suspected: Architecture courses are currently too long, too expensive, and don’t provide the rounded learning experience necessary for students to transition smoothly from college to the realities of professional practice.
In a new survey carried out by the Architects’ Journal, 64 percent of students believed that the pathway to becoming a registered architect should be shortened. Indeed, 55 percent of students called for the UK’s 3-part, 7-year system to be scrapped in favor of a quicker format. Considering the up to 8 year lag time in the US and other countries between entering architecture school and practicing, it could be argued that this grievance is of universal scale.
Tuition fee protests in London, 2010
This consensus comes as no surprise following the dramatic increase in university fees seen in Great Britain: An architecture degree can now cost each student from £45,000 to £54,000, depending on which institution they choose. Whilst these costs might pale in comparison to certain US institutions, the increased fees have caused many people from low and middle-income families to think twice about committing to a course of such length and expense. This has lead to fears that the profession will become more elitist, with only those benefiting from strong financial support feeling able to make the hefty investment in their architectural education.
Most telling of all though, were the comments on course content, with harsh words for the experience gained over such a marathon academic route. Scott Bearman, a Part 3 student from Manchester School of Architecture, commented: “The current system of five years in university – with a heavy emphasis on design – fails to properly prepare students for the realities of working in practice. Students leave university poorly prepared, without the tools to effectively manage projects, and still face a minimum of two years before they qualify."
RIBA Headquarters, London, UK
It is essential that Bearman’s words are read and re-read by the incoming RIBA President, Jane Duncan. According to the AJ survey, the list of topics that students said they wish they had been taught during their course fall closely in line with his concerns. Areas they believed should have been covered in greater depth included:
- Technical detailing
- Project budget constraints and time frames
- Understanding politics and how it affects architects
- Dealing with contractors and speaking to clients
- How to give presentations
- Practice management
These points are notable for their relevance to the realities of practice, rather than the theoretical, academic realm of university life. Unsurprisingly, the same students that held these views valued practical work experience – 82 percent regarded it as vital in gaining the skills needed for their post-graduation career, with 80 percent supporting the current year out as a way of gaining that experience.
So, where do we go from here? As a young architect that navigated the British 3-part system, I have direct experience and agree with the majority of views emanating from the Architectural Journal’s survey. The three major concerns – course length, expense, and content – are complex issues for which there are no quick fixes. However, here are some ideas that could begin to address the problems and lead to a more valuable and productive program of education for our future architects…
The consensus that the UK’s conventional 7-year course structure is too long supports Royal Institute of British Architects’ latest plans to scrap the current 3-part system in favour of an integrated 5-year course. Should it be pushed through, the more concise degree structure would echo with the pathway to licensure currently available in Germany and other mainland European countries.While this move could prove beneficial, it is crucial that practical work experience is not compromised by this compressed format. Options for the better incorporation of practical experience include the possibility of part-time architectural “residencies,” in which students could shadow professionals in practice for 1-2 days a week, supplementing their theoretical and studio work at university throughout the 5 years.
The above change in system would address some concerns regarding the individual costs of architectural education, but could there be further possibilities to support students on their way to licensure? First, there is the debate over the increase in university fees from £3,000 to £9,000 a year in 2010, and whether this should ever have occurred in the first place – if everyone benefits from an educated society, why burden each individual with the cost in its entirety?
Your view on this will likely hinge upon your political preferences, but I for one would accept higher taxation if I could be assured the money were going to support those navigating their way through higher education – including architecture courses. Another option could involve sponsorship from practices, repaid in the form of loyalty by working for the contributing firm for a set amount of time post-graduation.
Construction workshop at IE University, Spain
The most crucial area of all to be addressed is surely this – that students feel so unprepared for professional practice comes as little surprise given academics’ preoccupation with architectural theory and concept design. The main issue revolves around the fact that project briefs are often presented in isolation, with students having no need to collaborate with anyone other than their own architectural peers.
What if they were given the opportunity to work in tandem with engineering students for structural experiments, or even made to construct a small-scale project with apprentices learning trade skills such as bricklaying and carpentry? The merging of disciplines at university stage would benefit all parties involved, and go some way to mimicking the real world, where consultants and contractors must be managed and coordinated to deliver the client’s brief on schedule and within the budget.
Clearly, there are issues to be ironed out with each of these options, pertaining primarily to funding, organization, and the importance of maintaining the rigor of the course so that the strength of the profession is not diluted. What is certain, however, is that we must question a course structure which has remained virtually unchanged for half a century.What do you think – time for a shake-up?
The Angry Architect
Images via: Architizer
New York City has approved a developer’s Dickensian plan to include a “poor door” in a luxury apartment complex in the Upper West Side.
The prospect of a separate entrance for lower-income residents has been circulating for some time, but as the New York Post reported today, plans by company Extell Development to put a separate entrance for affordable housing tenants, who make 60 percent or less of median income, in the 33-story condo have been given the green light. The property will have 219 units, including 55 affordable units overlooking the street. Those renting and buying the apartments at the market-rate will have waterfront views.
Ok, I get it - you're giving poor people a chance to live in one of the more expensive parts of NYC... but way to perpetuate the class divide and create a building that is a perfect metaphor for the city's shocking economic inequality. The calculated segregation sits uncomfortably with me, but we shouldn't be surprised - social housing has long been tucked out of the way and around the corner by residential developers who want to sell a glossy, exclusive image front of house.
This time though, there is little to no subtlety to the way it has been delivered - welcome back to Medieval times, when the servants scuttled along secret passages to avoid getting under their master's feet. Urgh.
The Angry Architect
Assemblage winning proposal, via AAS Architecture
The original contest was run by the RIBA on behalf of the Iraqi authorities, and Assemblage was awarded first place in August 2012, picking up $250,000 in the process. In second place came the sculptural, rock-like forms of Capita Symonds, with ZHA’s proposal trailing in third. One juror described Hadid’s design as “very convoluted,” adding that “Alan Howarth [former architecture minister and member of the jury] was very clear that the design needed to be all about how MPs meet their constituents and how people get together — but her scheme threw everyone apart.”
Assemblage's winning proposal, AAS Architecture
Harsh words indeed – so it is no wonder that Assemblage might feel dazed and confused about how the selection process played out following their victory. The firm had been awarded an overall score of 88% by the jury for their striking design, a juxtaposition of cuboid and cylinder shaped forms linked by a broad avenue. The circular form is comprised of tapered fins, forming an elegant, perforated curve reminiscent of Rome’s iconic Colosseum.
The comparison with a building so synonymous with violence is tragically poignant at a time when the so-called Islamic State is reaking havoc in the north and west of Iraq. That fact has caused many to fundamentally question the political wisdom behind the decision to forge ahead with plans for a $1 billion dollar complex, when a humanitarian crisis looms once again for so many across the country. Should this kind of public project be put on hold in such dire circumstances, or is there a chance the construction of such a building could be viewed as a catalyst for peaceful political dialogue for generations to come? At present, the overriding consensus must surely lie with the former, but the project is being forced through nonetheless.
Assemblage's winning proposal, via AAS Architecture
Aside from the architecture, the biggest criticism of all has pertained to opacity – from the moment Assemblage were announced as winners, the process has been cloaked in secrecy, with discussions behind closed doors leading to a complete turnaround. If you’re wondering why you have reached this stage of the article and still haven’t seen an image of ZHA’s chosen proposal, it’s because the design has never been released publicly … prominent home-born critic Ihsan Fethi complained roundly about this farcical reality in an email sent on behalf of the Iraqi Architects Society:
“I personally tried in vain so many times to even have a quick look at the design with no success. Of course this is contrary to the principle of transparency and it is absolutely unacceptable for us Iraqi architects, or any Iraqi citizen to that matter, to be prevented from seeing what their Parliament would look like. We absolutely have no idea.”
Images via: Architizer
With the 2014 World Cup drawing closer and closer, spotlights have been shined upon the cities of Brazil, with questions being raised about their creaking infrastructure and rushed stadium constructions. There have been rumblings of uneasiness over the dangers typically associated with the exorbitant cost of global tournaments, that often leave cities with brand new sporting facilities next to crumbling hospitals and schools. The people of Brazil have taken to the streets to show a palpable resentment for FIFA, who many feel have blanketed the country's social inequity and camouflaged it with misleading, utopian imagery. Lunatic News put together this series of photos showing Brazil’s discontent with the World Cup stampeding through their home.
They're sometimes satirical, often angsty, and always creative. Excellent work...
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