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Why bother with the institute?

Stephen Hodder

You are the RIBA: if you’ve any doubts it’s time to come and make your voice heard

What makes me most excited about being RIBA President and why I have been involved with the Institute over the last few years is the opportunity to step outside day to day practice and engage in discussions and debate which look at the future of architecture – the practice of architecture itself and the wider national and global picture. 

RIBA Council last month debated what is next for cities. It is stimulated by existing work from the RIBA which explores the role for big data and technology, changing demographics and public health. The discussion helped stimulate the framework for the debate, which we will now take to the public to engage with it about the future of the city. 

It puts architecture front and centre as part of the solution, to address big issues at a national and global scale. The next RIBA Council meeting in June will discuss the next five year plan for the RIBA. We will be looking at the major trends within architecture as well as core issues for the next few years, and will focus on what the RIBA and its members should be achieving to lead the way.

The press often likes to portray the RIBA Council as a navel gazing forum to talk governance and so on. This is far from the truth. But why do RIBA members get involved? 

Geoff Alsop, National Council member and honorary treasurer, based in Manchester, says: ‘RIBA Council is the only democratic forum for debate on matters pertinent to the practice of architecture in the UK. Its decisions are informed by its collective experience and the fresh-thinking of newly elected members, who have a great opportunity to influence the RIBA’s agenda and help determine the future direction of the profession.’

If you feel you’re not being represented, then the institute needs more input from you. On council your thoughts can be heard directly and your demographic is represented

Vinesh Pomal, London region council member, adds: ‘My time on RIBA Council been challenging yet informative and a platform for debate and discussion. I hope that at future meetings we can discuss how the institute can be more proactive through campaigns. This could be through using our branches who are the grassroots of the RIBA.’  

Elena Tsolakis commented: ‘I am very proud to be national RIBA councillor. The council consists of people who spend a huge amount of their own time working to make the institute better. We need forward looking people that see the profession evolving and who help form the framework of that change. If you feel you’re not being represented, then the institute needs more input from you. On council your thoughts can be heard directly and your demographic is represented. I feel the weight of the young architects I represent as we are a minority on council.’ 

And how might we shape RIBA Council further? Robert Firth, RIBA council member and president elect for RSAW in Wales, is interested in the differences between generations and the importance of engaging with the so-called Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) and Generation Z (born since 2000). ‘If we do not engage with these age groups the institute will become irrelevant. We need to encourage younger members to Council by making it accessible, relevant and far more urgent. We need innovative ways of interacting at council, to make it more diverse and to ensure discussions and decisions made are more available to the membership.’ 

Carl Turner, RIBA London region council member, reflects on his practice’s work in Brixton: ‘I would like to see Council demonstrate that architects have unique training to be able to tackle gentrification. The real problem for architects – and society – is their marginalisation within the development process. We need to debate how architects can regain that ground. Too many spend time helping the haves and not the have nots.’




This month nominations open for RIBA members to stand for election to Council. It is vital that people who are thinking about the future and the bigger picture get involved – and that our Council reflects the diversity of the profession. Often the best potential candidates need encouragement to get involved – so do suggest to colleagues that they do. Nominations open on 1 April 2015. Visit for more information.