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RIAS Council condemn architects role in Israeli settlement building

March 13 2014

RIAS Council condemn architects role in Israeli settlement building
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has moved to support an initiative by its sister organisation, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), to condemn the construction of new buildings on occupied Palestinian territory.

The political gesture was made at the behest of RIBA president Angela Brady and joint member George Oldham, who believe such work amounts to a ‘land grabbing’ offensive by occupying Israeli forces.

Justifying their stance the RIAS claim Israel’s actions are in violation of a UN resolution and point to a 2004 judgement by the International Court of Justice which declared such construction work to be illegal.

It is hoped that the move, orchestrated through the International Architects Union, will apply moral pressure on architects in the region to refuse work on such projects.

Brady commented: “I am delighted that the Royal Incorporation has taken such a strong stance on this matter.  It is important that our profession stands up for human rights in this way.  This is an instance where architects are culpable, perhaps they will listen to their fellow architects.”


Stephen M. Albert
#1 Posted by Stephen M. Albert on 15 Mar 2014 at 23:30 PM
From the photograph it is not at all certain that an Architect was involved in this pedestrian design.
bob albatross
#2 Posted by bob albatross on 17 Mar 2014 at 13:48 PM
Are Architects to blame for lack of peace in the middle east?
If so surely the architects of Russia, Turkey and (um) Great Britain should also be excluded from the international union?
Whilst no body is claiming perfect peace and equality in Israel / Palestine region it is important not to single out Israel from defending itself from daily existential threats.
#3 Posted by hingwy on 17 Mar 2014 at 14:56 PM
bob - is building settlements in Palestinian territory an act of defence?
Robert Davies
#4 Posted by Robert Davies on 18 Mar 2014 at 01:27 AM
Angela Brady is the RIBA International Advisor to China. We are, of course, entitled to be critical of any government's policies. However hosting delegates and working collaboratively with Chinese architects whilst calling for a boycott of the entire Israeli architectural profession is hypocritical and morally unjustifiable.
Angela Brady PPRIBA
#5 Posted by Angela Brady PPRIBA on 18 Mar 2014 at 18:20 PM
Robert, Firstly and most importantly;
This motion is NOT a boycott, this is the "affirmation that in terms of the UIA code of ethics and professionalism, architects should not practice in occupied territory". No one is requesting that RIBA members should not practice in Israel. Secondly, often people will try and defend this illegal action by pointing to China or Russia - who do not have a UIA accord in place! yet. David Cameron last week also condemned the building on occupied land in defiance of International Law so do all United Nations members? Why shouldn't the RIBA take a stance too? Look at this link it says a lot;-
Robert Davies
#6 Posted by Robert Davies on 19 Mar 2014 at 06:34 AM
Thanks for responding, Angela. I am certainly not disputing your sentiment and I also support the RIBA taking a stance. However, indiscriminate violence and collective punishment are two of the more abhorrent and tragic aspects of this conflict. THe RIBA's proposal to impose collective punishment on all of Israel's architects, irrespective of political persuasion and, in some cases, meaningful collaboration with Israeli-Arab communities, is counter-productive and discriminatory. Even such vocal critics as Chomsky and Finkelstein attribute more sinister motives to this form of indiscriminate action especially when not applied universally (their comments on BDS are available online). I would rather be supporting the RIBA in carrying out a positive intervention in the area rather than this counter-productive measure.
Steven Kingsley
#7 Posted by Steven Kingsley on 19 Mar 2014 at 12:10 PM
Angela Brady’s practice mentions more interest in projects in China and collaborating with Chinese drafts people.

“BMA are interested in further projects in China and collaborating with local Chinese Drawing Institutes and offices and developers interested in low carbon sustainable city design”

Hypocrite Angela is able to reconcile that the terrible human rights and land grabs (Tibet) made by the Chinese communist government are not the responsibility of the Chinese people / architects but the liberal democracy of Israel with the best human rights in the middle east doesn't afford the same understanding towards its Architects....

Maybe if Israel were the size of China and offered her lucrative contracts she would turn a blind eye to Human rights abuses as she so clearly does regarding China.
#8 Posted by Stephen on 22 Mar 2014 at 13:58 PM
@ Steven Kingsley #7: The call is to avoid designing work in Israeli settlements, not in Israel as a whole. Angela Brady is not (as far as I can see) working on projects for the Chinese government in Tibet, but if she was then your point would at least be logical.
Surely each situation has to be assessed individually, whether in an Israeli settlement, Tel Aviv or Shanghai and should be dependent also on who the client is?
#9 Posted by stephen on 22 Mar 2014 at 14:30 PM
...It's also interesting to me that Ai Wei Wei has apparently called CCTV employees 'terrorists' (and presumably therefore wouldn't have helped Koolhass out with his dystopian HQ) but was happy to work on the bird's nest stadium.
david wilson
#10 Posted by david wilson on 23 Mar 2014 at 19:58 PM
it perfectly straightforward.

The settlements are built on disputed land. The UN has said for many years that this is illegal.

I don't think Angela Brady is building on disputed land in China.

If you decided to moderate architecture on an 100% moral/ethical code then why are any of you building in the UK after an illegal war in Iraq ?
Kevin O'Brien
#11 Posted by Kevin O'Brien on 24 Mar 2014 at 13:21 PM
Agree completely with your sentiment, as well as the UIA clause on working in occupied settlements as referenced. However not being a member of either institution, working to the exact same logic used in the final sentence there, and this is a genuine Q and not a witch-hunt, how democratic have the RIBA and RIAS been in balloting their own members for their views on this?

I appreciate from time to time the institutions have to be seen to be taking a moral and ethical stance on matters, but the delivery, handling and subsequent reporting of this story has not been overly positive. Is this down to media naughtiness, or just plain bad PR?

Just a final footnote from me, I concur with the directive but I am unsure if it is necessarily the place of the institutions to shout it from the rooftops in the media (which may or may not indeed be the case).

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