Cultural ­revolution

New section, new magazine – a better RIBA Journal

In case you missed it as you tore open the packaging for this reconfigured RIBA Journal, there’s a welcoming letter from me in the bag. But if you’ve got this far in the magazine, you’ll know well enough that there have been big changes round here, in content, design and physical feel. The RIBA Journal is , like Dr Who, in regeneration mode. A year ago you had one magazine, issued 10 times a year. Now you have two: the redesigned Journal, proudly back to 12 issues a year; and PIP, our very well-received Products in Practice supplement, refreshed and up to six issues a year. 

That’s just what you receive on paper (better paper). We also operate live – we are half way through our Gerflor 120 series of debates on the state of the profession, highlights of which are on page 89. We reached out to the profession again with last month’s highly successful Eye Line drawings competition, which we shall certainly run again. These things concern the fundamentals of what it means to be an architect. Our regeneration continues: next is the overhaul and expansion of our digital presence, the fruits of which you will see in due course. Incidentally, none of this is paid for from your membership subscription: the Journal operates from RIBA Enterprises on a commercial basis, and is self-financing.

So what’s the idea with our new Culture section? This is the more discursive end of the magazine. Anchoring it is our profile, which appropriately enough this month is new RIBA president Stephen Hodder. Stephen is an ­example of an architect with a high profile as a practitioner who also dedicates a lot of his time behind the scenes to the workings of the RIBA. He wants the institute to serve both its members and their clients better. 

These things concern the fundamentals of what it means to be an architect

Here you will find our opinion columns including – following Maria Smith of Studio Weave’s practice reflections at the end of the previous section – two new ones. In Round Here a changing roster of architects will celeb­rate their particular UK locale, kicking off with Ian McKnight of acclaimed practice Hall McKnight in Belfast. This is counter­balanced by our regular Out There column from architects working overseas. This month our correspondent is none other than Charles Jencks, recounting his work in Korea. Another new column, The Flâneur, is contributed by architectural and cultural commentator – and indefatigable traveller - Herbert Wright. 

In this section are also reviews, our obituary and letters pages (called Exchange as social media increasingly usurps more ­traditional communications, and incorporating a slice of history) and finally, a treasure as familiar as it is valuable: Parting Shot, our monthly gem from the RIBA’s remarkable Robert Elwall Photographs Collection. 

I’m very aware that, while we have been living with and developing this new ­design over several months, for you it is a sudden change. I’m also aware that editors and ­designers throw everything at their relaunch issue, and that the real test comes over time. We shall of course continue to refine it. In the meantime, well, of course I hope you like it, and tell us what you think.

Letters@ribajournal.com is the place to talk to us.