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Our action plans for the House of Architecture

Simon Allford

The RIBA’s Biennial Action Plan covers balancing the books, PII, climate and more, says Simon Allford

Looking to the future, from the terrace at the RIBA’s 66 Portland Place.
Looking to the future, from the terrace at the RIBA’s 66 Portland Place. Credit: RIBA Collections

This week we published the organisation’s 2022-23 Biennial Action Plan, which has been set by the RIBA Board, with support, strategic advice and guidance from your elected representatives on Council, the staff team and other members. 

With 10 clear priorities – from balancing the budget to seeking solutions to the PII crisis – it will enable the RIBA to focus its outputs and deliver key objectives: to support architects, to promote architecture and to celebrate excellence.

The House of Architecture underpins all our thinking for the next two years: a programme to inspire members, professionals, students and the public through engaging, audience-focussed exhibitions and events, delivered physically and digitally. The programme includes the essential refurbishment of our long-term home, 66 Portland Place, led by Benedetti Architects, to create an accessible, low carbon house of culture and debate. Many of you will have also seen that in five years’ time our partnership with the V&A will draw to a close. This is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to consolidate and showcase RIBA’s vast, growing collection (over 4 million artefacts, currently housed across five sites) – and share with a much larger public audience.   

While the overarching objective is to balance the budget, we have also protected our £100 million endowment generated by the sale of our specification information business, NBS. We can use this to generate and distribute annual funds to support membership-led initiatives – think RIBA pop-up exhibitions and events for members and the public organised by our branches and chapters worldwide. The Member Hub – our virtual, dynamic platform for members – is helping us to better understand your needs with your input on the guidance and support you want, such as a ‘Practice in a Box’. This is our plan to pull together toolkits to help practices thrive and deliver low embodied and operational carbon design.

In terms of gathering member insights, Council task and finish groups are working hard to provide council and board with direction to ensure the best allocation of resources, based on the issues that matter to you.  

For example, our education and equality, diversity and inclusivity teams are working closely with our finding and accessing architecture group to look at expanding initiatives to connect local practices and schools to help children consider a career in the built environment. They are looking at new structures of validation that will facilitate the emergence of more accessible earn and learn programmes.

The Member Hub, our virtual, dynamic platform for members, is helping us to better understand your needs with your input on the guidance and support you want – such as a ‘Practice in a Box’., our plan to pull together toolkits to help practices thrive and deliver low embodied and operational carbon design

Our PII group is progressing its review of professional risk and market conditions, initiated by visionary past president, the late Marco Goldschmied, and working with insurance industry experts to scope out a radical new model to serve practices and their clients. 

Our climate council task and finish group is collaborating with other built environment organisations while a similar group is looking at our relationship with the ARB. Both I and chair of the board Jack Pringle meet regularly with its chair and chief executive.

In terms of changes to RIBA’s staff team, we are recruiting a new chief executive and have already appointed a number of executive directors, including those who will be heading up our commercial, membership, and architecture programmes and collections pillars. This is part of a major internal restructure that develops a leaner, high-performing team. This also crucially allows us to bring the operational deficit down from an unsustainable £8 million per annum to zero by the end of 2023. 

In summary, the biennial action plan is designed to help staff and members collaborate to achieve the task at hand. We need to ensure that everything we do is done well, and provides value to members and society. This may mean doing less, but better, and ultimately achieving more – through harnessing the extraordinary talent of you, our members. 

Finally, before I sign-off, I would like to send my congratulations to Muyiwa Oki, the RIBA’s next president, who led a commendable campaign with an electoral manifesto focused on the future of the profession. I look forward to working with Muyiwa as president elect before I hand over the baton in September 2023.

What do you think about higher-risk buildings regs?

Have your say on implementing regulations for higher-risk buildings.

The government is consulting on proposed changes to building regulations under part three of the Building Safety Act 2022. The online survey seeks views on policy proposals for legislation to create the building control procedure for higher-risk buildings, as well as wider changes to improve the building control system overall. We’ll be responding at RIBA – please share your views by 12 October. See the consultation on