The value of architects Part 1 ~ A fable for today

Now this post is a difficult one to write but its such a great story it deserves to be told.

Names, places, counties/authorities have been changed to save embarrassment

I was approached a long while back to replace an existing dwelling in a coastal location in County Galway. The site was highly visible, very prominent and was an ideal opportunity to create something special that the client could enjoy as well as the thousands of people that would be walking past it each year.

Well I didn’t get the job. Even after doing the full spiel on the value of an architect, creating something nice for the site etc etc… The job went to a ‘consulting engineer‘. Now I have no great problem with that, I win jobs and I lose jobs, sometimes I quite like what the other person has done and there are stacks of people out there that can create nice work that aren’t qualified as architects.

Skip forward 18 months and per-chance I visited the site with the family and saw what got built. Yup the biggest pile of crap I have ever seen in my entire life. Imagine a gigantic dog that could produce a crap the size of a house, this was that pile of crap. A building so inept in architectural value it was truly appalling. Now you’re going to have to use your imagination here on the crapness of this crap building as I can’t show a photograph of it. Let’s just say it was pretty bad. Now I’m not a starchitect or profess to be the best architect in the world; I just try to do the best with what I have and do my upmost to create something half decent for the client and the site and I know that I could have produced something a lot better.

Now as I’ve said I’ve lost jobs before but the story doesn’t end there…

I was reading an architecture magazine of the best House projects in the world; and there was a project completed by a County Wicklow RIAI architectural practice for an uncannily similar project in a similar coastal location. And the difference was like chalk and cheese. A house so inherently beautiful it took your breath away; a house so full of ideas, concepts, simplicity and integrity that as a fellow architect once said “It was ruthless in its effectiveness”. It was the polar opposite of the crap house; where the opportunity was lost in the ‘crap’ house, here it was taken and a truly beautiful piece of work that will be enjoyed by the clients and everyone that passes was created.

So what is the moral of this story? I genuinely believe that if you want to create something beautiful then you should appoint a registered RIAI (or RIBA) architect for your project.

You can tell whether your architect is registered by CLICKING HERE

Now the story doesn’t end there but I can’t add any more (yet)…

The next blog post is really going to examine the benefits of appointing an architect for your job, watch this space…

4 thoughts on “The value of architects Part 1 ~ A fable for today

  1. Great post but is there any chance you could show us some closup photos of some of the details which demonstrate the difference between a good detail and a bad one.

    I appreciate you have to protect the identity of the house (and their owners) but it would be great to see some photos. We don’t need to see the whole house just some closeups which support your points.

    Otherwise it’s difficult to understand what you mean by “the biggest pile of crap I have ever seen in my entire life”. My definition of “crap” is probably different from yours, although I hope it wouldn’t be too far out.

  2. A great and often familiar story. What would also add weight to the argument are some measures other than aesthetics. What were the land costs, build costs and sale or valuation? Were they built for clients to live in or sell on? Good architect starts with good clients working with good decision makers. It follows that better architect results from better clients and better decisions. Financial value isn’t the only measure but it is one too often ignored. I look forward to part two.

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