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Words:
Eleanor Young

Our series of events covering four of the major issues facing architects today revealed a profession prepared to tackle the future

When we set out to celebrate 120 years of the RIBA Journal we wanted to take the temperature of the profession today and look at its future direction. A fundamental reappraisal of the status and health of the profession was the task we, and our partner Gerflor, set ourselves. 

It was a tall order, so the RIBAJ120 Series called on the experience and critical capacities of the thinkers, thinking architects and others involved in our cities and the future of the profession in the world. Thanks to all who brought this together, those who participated and especially to Gerflor for its collaboration and support.

We tackled four big themes, looking at them from all angles. Counting the Difference examined how design and architects are perceived and valued and, importantly, how architects can justify the money that they have the privilege of spending on behalf of others; Home and Away explored some of the thornier issues of working abroad; Collective Conscience put the moral compass of the profession under the spotlight; and Blurring Boundaries asked ‘Who is responsible for placemaking?’ 

In the following pages we give you a flavour of the discussions with reports from the events, pieces delving further into the most important issues thrown up by the discussions, and the views of both ordinary architects and leading architectural figures on the big professional questions of our time.  

What has emerged is an engaged and energetic profession. Yes, there are pressures – some extreme. But it is in the nature of the profession to look beyond them to the bigger picture with the firmly held belief that design can make a better place for everyone: from the Rio slum dweller to City lawyer to Shropshire school child. At the same time, the RIBAJ120 Series with Gerflor exposed a tangible sense of architects in search of a direction beyond design, who wanted to be reminded of their higher calling. 

It is this, among other competing issues, that the Institute should be striving to set out for the profession and that we will be embedding into the RIBA Journal in the months and years to come. 

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