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UK's Traditional Architecture Group to Set Panel

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Britain’s Traditional Architecture Group has announced that it is planning to launch a new design panel to aid city councils in reviewing proposals and to offer a balance against the group is calling local authorities’ bias toward Modernist design.

The Architects’ Journal reports that TAG (which was founded in 2003 by Robert Adam and is chaired by American architect Scot Masker) says that it just wants to help lighten the load for authority planning departments that are stretched thin with reviews.

“This is to act as a balm against panels that are often a cabal of local design professionals that do not change and who may not be selected specifically for their expertise relative to the proposal before them,” Masker said.

“This is about giving good and well-informed advice, it is that simple. It just happens that our members have an expertise in traditional design.”

When asked what would happen when a design from a more Modern firm came across the panel, Masker said it would be “honored” but would ask questions: “Is it set amongst say listed buildings or in a conservation area? Does it, like his wonderful Nimes project, propose a response deriving from the Classical, traditional context? It may be that the insight of one of our panels could positively influence such a design without the proposal needing to be specifically derivative.”

While critics agree with the point that local authorities should evaluate design decisions more carefully, some question if tagging in TAG is the best approach.

“Setting up an independent panel of traditional architects purely to assess traditional schemes would seem to lessen its objectivity,” said Russell Curtis, founding director of RCKa and one of the London Mayor’s design advocates, “and what’s to prevent it exhibiting its own prejudices against contemporary design?”

The Royal Institute of British Architects was quick to point out that, though the group is affiliated with RIBA it is “run independently.”

There is no official rollout timeframe for the initiative.

More Tradition

This announcement comes weeks after a draft order entitled “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” emerged in the United States. Such an order could roll back a decades-long tradition that bars the government from taking a stance on an official architectural style, according to reports.

The draft reportedly would seek to ensure that the “classical architectural style” be the preferred and default mandate.

The new order (should it be put into effect) would essentially rewrite the rules for the design of any office building, headquarters, courthouses or otherwise federal buildings contracted through the General Services Administration costing more than $50 million.

If a style other than classical is proposed for such a project, it would need to be approved by a presidential “re-beautification” committee, which would review designs and give the White House the final say.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Color + Design; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Government; NA; North America

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