New members bring their expertise to the RIBA’s Advisory Groups
Much of the most influential work that the RIBA carries out would not be possible without its Expert Advisory Groups. They contribute to governmental consultations, lead proactive campaigns and provide guidance to support the profession.
Each one has its own specific focus and remit, with groups made up of experts in fields such as housing, planning, conservation and sustainability. Recently, a number of changes in personnel have occurred across the groups, with many new members joining.
Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, a Director at EPR Architects, is the new Chair of the Regulations and Standards Advisory Group (RSG). "The group debates and advises the RIBA regarding regulatory compliance at project level; and the impact this has for us as students, architects and practitioners," he explains. "Our contribution is currently particularly important in supporting the RIBA to engage with government and industry in light of the Hackitt review."
Recent work the RSG has undertaken has focused on changes to health and safety legislation and members’ competence to provide Designer and Principal Designer services. They are providing a crucial role in the RIBA’s response to the government’s post-Grenfell review of building regulations and fire safety.
Gary Clark, Head of Sustainability at WilkinsonEyre Architects is the new Chair of the Sustainable Futures group. "The Sustainable Futures group is a fantastic and committed membership of expert practitioners who work across many sectors," he states. "Our goal is to harness this knowledge for the greater good of our profession and the planet. I want to ensure that the RIBA remains the leading professional body in the field of sustainable architecture."
One of Clark’s roles is to oversee the current revision of the RIBA Plan of Work and sustainability guidance; it will include a new sustainability overlay, RIBA Sustainable Outcomes guidance and a new Building Use Strategy guide. The principles will be included in a revised RIBA competition submission to ensure that all RIBA award winning projects promote best practice.
The Housing group has two new members - one of whom is Kyle Buchanan, founder of the practice Archio. "I am delighted to have been asked to join," he says. "In an environment where the focus is often on delivering the maximum number of units as quickly as possible the RIBA has an important job to do in advocating for well-designed, well-built homes."
Recently, the Housing group made key contributions to the housing design document Ten Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live, a set of RIBA award–winning case studies requested by MHCLG.
"New homes need to work for the people that live in them," Buchanan points out, "but also for local communities in the towns and villages in which they are built. The RIBA Housing group is an important force in spreading that message as widely as possible."
Paul O’Neill is a new member of the Planning group and a Director at Bryden Wood. "As well as supporting the group by reviewing consultation documents such as government planning reform proposals, I have an interest in how digital systems such as web, app and VR can help improve the planning process," he says.
"VR technology lets you easily understand how proposals will affect the built environment. That’s great not just for architects, but for the community, local authorities and applicants too."
The Expert Advisory Groups comprise architects from right across the UK. Liverpool-based architect David Watkins is a new member of the Conservation group. He has had a career-long passion for the sustainable adaptation of historic buildings, ever since he first worked on the restoration and regeneration of Liverpool’s Albert Dock.
"The RIBA Conservation Advisory Panel provides opportunities for wider involvement in the discussion of current conservation issues," Watkins states. "It is a source of sound advice to ultimately raise awareness for the protection of our diverse and rich heritage."
Melissa Robinson, Director of MWArchitects, recently joined the Small Practice group. "It provides a voice to discuss the concerns facing small practices, to ensure awareness of the different issues facing different sized firms," she says.
"Key issues are discussed at meetings and action taken. Mental health is one good example. In larger firms there are systems in place and HR departments to deal with the day-to-day issues facing employees. In a small firm it may only be you and one other person, which makes these issues eat into your everyday life much more."
Of course, the findings, research and activities of each group are not only relevant to their own concerns. "As a new member, I am confident that the group helps shape how the RIBA benefit and counsel practices of all sizes," she affirms.
The list of all current Advisory Group members can be found on the RIBA website.
Thanks to Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, Gary Clark, Kyle Buchanan, Paul O’Neill, David Watkins and Melissa Robinson.
Text by Matt Milton. This is a Professional Feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas
Posted on 13 December 2018.