RIBAJ has more for everyone

Words:
Hugh Pearman

You’ve seen our new cover – and we’ve more content too, with an eye on the next generation

You may have noticed that the front cover of the RIBAJ that landed on your doormat this month looks a little different. The big J of our name and logo has made a bid for independence and become a superscale graphic device which we shall use in various interesting ways month by month. Designed by Linda Byrne, it is an evolution of our classic 2013 design by Matt Willey which itself was part of a root-and-branch rethink of the Journal.  

Inside his design remains unaltered, but some of our content is changing: welcome to our new occasional ‘In school’ feature, in which we take a look at what’s going on in the architecture schools around the country, starting with Manchester. If you read the magazine from front to back rather than starting from the back as I always do, you’ll have seen the start of our shift to covering more one-off houses and – as the RIBA itself expands its membership overseas – overseas projects and topics. 

Following favourable reaction to our previous forays into this area, as the year unfolds we plan to do more appraisals of whole places rather than just individual buildings. We’ll also be profiling more of the practitioners and clients of architecture, starting with the fast-emerging 31/44 Architects in addition to our regular profile which this month  is of Murray Fraser at the Bartlett, winner of this year’s Annie Spink Award for teaching in architecture.

 

‘Working with a team of talented architects has ensured that our children are able to develop life skills, such as team work, solving a brief, problem solving and communication’

Let’s stay with teaching because in my view one of the most valuable things the RIBA has trialled recently – and now wants to roll out nationwide – is its programme of getting practitioners into schools to spark an interest in and knowledge of architecture in students from ages four to 18. Not to mention enthusing teachers. This is the National Schools Programme, organised by the RIBA Learning Team.

Its pilot phase is already impressive: some 18,000 young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, have taken part in over 200 schools across England. The scheme involved 349 ‘architecture ambassadors’ from 170 practices. Now the plan is for it to happen everywhere. Why? Canan Ahmet, a teacher at one of my local primary schools in north London – Rokesly Junior – says: ‘Working with a team of talented architects has ensured that our children are able to develop life skills, such as team work, solving a brief, problem solving and communication. The programme raises aspirations and creates potential career pathways for some architects of tomorrow.’  

I’ve seen this approach in action on a related project, Scale Rule, which every year brings architects and engineers (Grimshaw and AKTII) together with secondary school pupils to both design and build an annual summer pavilion on a site set aside for the purpose in a local churchyard. It’s a lot of work in a short time but the enthusiasm and talent you see from the students is extra­ordinary. If we want to encourage social mobility and a more diverse profession – and who doesn’t? – the RIBA’s National Schools Programme is the way to go.  Sign up to it!