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How the House of Architecture will help inspire confidence

Muyiwa Oki

Our role as architects encompasses much more than design alone, says Muyiwa Oki. Reassuring our clients is an essential part of the service

66 Portland Place, Weymouth street sketch.
66 Portland Place, Weymouth street sketch. Credit: Benedetti Architects

When delivering architecture as a service, what are our clients truly looking for? I believe that in any capital project, the pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with the pursuit of reassurance. 

Driven by aspirations and apprehensions, clients seek more than just a fantastic design – they crave the certainty of the least risky option. Like all of us, they have fears, constraints and budgets.

But how do architects deliver on this promise of minimal risk? More than just presenting a compelling vision, it’s about instilling confidence by managing risk, transparency and meticulous planning. When they want detail, we present it. If it is a phased engagement, we structure it.  

This philosophy has been reinforced for me as an architect at Mace, a global construction and consultancy group, where we offer a client delivery partner service. In this role, I’ve realised that the best option is often the one with the least risk. The best projects are not those with ground-breaking designs but those where risks are identified, mitigated and navigated with precision.

At the RIBA we are embarking on an ambitious, brave and critical capital project of our own – the most significant undertaking since 1958. This endeavour reflects our commitment to delivering the least risky option for our members and the broader architectural community.

The House of Architecture initiative secures the future of RIBA. It aims to redefine the role of architecture in society, making it more accessible, inclusive and impactful than ever – in the UK and across the globe.

Building on our rich history over nearly two centuries, this major investment will propel our mission forward, supporting members in shaping a better future for society.

Central to the House of Architecture is the consolidation of our world-class collections, making them more accessible through a digitised catalogue and a coherent storage and display facility. This investment will empower architects, scholars and enthusiasts alike to engage with our invaluable resources from anywhere in the world.

The best projects are those where risks are identified, mitigated and navigated with precision

Additionally, we are prioritising digital technology enhancements to ensure that members across the globe have seamless access to the tools, support and information they need to thrive in their practice and participate from anywhere in what’s going on at the RIBA. Going digital will move us from operating a hub and spoke model to a point-to-point network.

We also recognise the importance of preserving and modernising our iconic London headquarters at 66 Portland Place. This historic Grade II* building, with its difficult 28 different levels, is in many ways is part of our collection and requires significant upgrades to become a welcoming space for both members and the public.

By addressing issues such as a leaking roof, end-of-life mechanical systems and inadequate accessibility, we aim to transform our headquarters into a beacon of architectural excellence and inclusivity fit for the 21st century. Our goal is to set a precedent for respectful heritage retrofitting, ensuring that the building remains relevant for generations to come.

As we move forward with this ambitious agenda, we are eager to engage with our members every step of the way. Your input is invaluable as we navigate the planning and implementation phases of the House of Architecture initiative.

Together, let’s forge a future where architecture is not just about design but about assurance – where every project, every decision, is guided by the pursuit of the least risky path forward. 

Read more about the RIBA’s plan for the House of Architecture