Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Scottish Government’s ‘new vernacular’ competition labeled ‘anti-competitive’

July 8 2010

Scottish Government’s ‘new vernacular’ competition labeled ‘anti-competitive’
A Scottish Government led competition, run in conjunction with RIAS, to seek housing and urban design proposals to deliver a “new vernacular” have been castigated as “anti competitive” by industry insiders.  

Commenting on a stipulated requirement, at the behest of the Scottish Government, for all entrants to be architects registered with the ARB (the Westminster coalition government has pledged to scrap the ARB in an efficiency drive) Ross McEwan of Art in Architecture said: “Surely it’s anti competitive doing this? You shouldn’t need insurance or have a certain sized office to enter.”

“Who are they after, the usual top five?” Asks McEwan, continuing: “you don’t need to be an architect to be an urban designer. Lots of artists are doing that type of work now, sustainability consultants should be able to enter.

“In the second stage you have to team up with a developer, that’s the second stage though. What’s wrong with the first stage being completely open?”

When pressed if he was recommending deregulation across the board McEwan responded: “Well I am actually, why can’t we have an open competition where as a second stage you have to team up with an architect?

“They probably want Andres Duany in it. That’s a scandal in itself, £200k for the man’s practice for three design charettes. All he did was head back to Florida pull out a few drawings and say ‘here, we’ve got it all done for you’.

The Scottish Government were asked to comment but did not respond.


#1 Posted by Beachy on 9 Jul 2010 at 09:59 AM
#2 Posted by Graeme on 9 Jul 2010 at 13:31 PM
Going by the piss-poor quality of work on the "Art in Architecture" website, anything that would prevent them from pariticipating must surely be considered a positive! Sounds like sour grapes to me.
#3 Posted by Mike on 9 Jul 2010 at 15:14 PM
Finally, someone speaks up against the clear architetural led diection the SG are taking in their 'placemaking' response. Duany and his pastiche gingerbread houses should not be the new vernacular - as for his Charette's - he's like a modern day preacher. Some common sense to contemporary placemaking that responds to the 21st century is needed PLEASE. preferabbly led by planners, not architects!
#4 Posted by beachy on 10 Jul 2010 at 11:31 AM
At least AiA have the decency to come out and be counted. Who are you and what gives you the right to suggest anything is "piss-poor" most of what comes as good in Scotland is the dreeuch trash from a perochial 3rd rate little country run by a load of numpties at a building which most of the country decry because they have not one ounce of intellect left over from a nation which gave us the "Enlightenment".
Get out and debate rather than standing behind your probable professional background don't be a coward as you probably are and an elitist architect who stands in the shadow of protected title.
Auntie Nairn
#5 Posted by Auntie Nairn on 12 Jul 2010 at 14:00 PM
In response to Mike, I don't think anyone was spekaing up against an architectural led direction. If you are looking to create a new vernacular, architects are exactly the profession to deliver it (although a new Scottish vernacular is nonsense as, vernacular by it's nature should be much more local). To suggest that this could be delivered by planners, who patently don't understand design, is absurd beyond belief!!

I take issue with the structure of the competition, why should you provide your audited accounts?, why should you provide the cv's of 2 members of staff? (rules out sole-practitioners straight away), why should you be connected with a developer? All of this seems unneccesary for what purports to be an IDEAS competiton.

Beachy, your depiction of elitist architects standing in the shadow of a protected title isn't something any architect I know would recognise. A protected title is no protection at all in this world of uninsured, unregulated plan-drawers.
#6 Posted by Mike on 21 Jul 2010 at 14:19 PM
Auntie Nairn - I am a planner. I understand urban design far better than most architects . Architects are interested n the physical aspects of buldings and areas. If your response is some ignorant rant at planners creating blight and carbuncles, please learn your planing history where you'll discover that it was architects masquerading as planners through the 50s 60s and 70s who have cause the urban issuses we now face.
#7 Posted by S. on 26 Jul 2010 at 11:47 AM
All - I think that this cliche debate on whom is to blame for the current disaster of place making in Scotland is neither useful nor intelligent. I am an architect, and I have no ego-tistical attitute or belief that we as architects have all the answers, nor should planners, unbanists, policy makers or any one else involved with the built environment. The reality is, the only way we can make informed, and useful contributions is to design inclusively with planners, road engineers, landscape architects and all other professionals. These designs should always be completely based upon a specific site and brief. There should be no "vernacular" local or otherwise. Vernacular implies a pre-designed answer to a question that cannot be answered in generality. Perhaps if everyone would grow up, get off thier pedestal, stop blaming everyone else, and concentrate on producing decent work, our industry wouldn't be absolutely crippled financially, and as an industry we could at least give the impression that we know what we are doing. Our industry always has - and continues to suffer irreperrably from these types of conversation, driving down confidence, and promoting reduced fees, increased workload and the creation of poor quality places.

Post your comments


All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.


Back to July 2010

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.