Staged in the new offices of Hoare Lea, a talk by Paddy Conaghan entitled “Are architects ready for a low carbon industry?” turned out to be much more of a study of the history and future of architects in practice than a call for environmentally aware design.
With a series of diagrams Paddy explained his view of the erosion of role and loss of status of the architect in the building team over the last 50 years or so. Architects are now effectively just one of a number of subcontractors in a team headed by a contractor or project manager. His thesis was that architects are undervalued and underpaid because they do not promote their essential skills. He felt this could be met by changing the type of education architects receive to introduce, amongst other things, more specialisation.
The debate that followed was lively and informative and danced around that elusive quality that architects feel they bring to the project team, but that they can’t quite define and give away for nothing. One of the conclusions of the evening was that it is valuable for architects to listen to the views of other disciplines to understand more about how they are perceived in the marketplace.