IMPORTANT Website terms of use and cookie statement

RAAC - RIBA's response

Read about how we have responded to issues with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

07 September 2023

What is RAAC?  

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is a lightweight, ‘bubbly’ form of concrete commonly used in construction between the 1950s to the mid-1990s. It is predominantly found as precast panels in roofs, floors and walls of public buildings, including schools. It has a life expectancy of around 30 years, which means that buildings constructed during this period, that have not been checked, are potentially at risk. Read our Professional Feature to find out more about the role of architects in the identification and remediation of RAAC.  

What has led to the closure of public buildings?  

The Government has been aware that public buildings contain RAAC since 1994, but started to monitor the condition of schools, specifically, containing RAAC following an incident in 2018. In the summer of 2023, following a Department for Education survey of schools to see whether they had identified any RAAC, launched the previous year, many were forced to close part or whole buildings to begin remediation work.  

Do any RIBA buildings contain RAAC?  

We have completed an initial audit of buildings with a RIBA presence, either used by our colleagues or to house our materials. We are not aware of any buildings at risk.  

How has RIBA responded to the emerging crisis?  

We campaign for a safer, fairer and sustainable built environment. This includes calling for action to improve existing public buildings where dangerous or substandard conditions are identified. 

See our latest statements and media appearances:  

5 September 2023: BBC London Evening News 

RIBA Board Chair, Jack Pringle, warns of the scale of the problem – stressing that all public buildings including hospitals and social housing must be thoroughly checked.  

“We need to be testing our buildings to see whether they are made of lightweight concrete, and forming a register so we know what buildings we need to deal with. We then need to bring forward remediation proposals for mitigating the problem, rectifying the problem or – in extreme cases – replacing the buildings.”  

4 September 2023: RIBA urges action on the condition of public buildings 

RIBA Board Chair Jack Pringle said: 

“RIBA has long voiced serious concerns about the condition of school buildings. Our 2016 study – Better Spaces for Learning – highlighted that pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education. 

Alongside funding the mitigation of immediate safety risks through an industry-led task force, the Government must publish the Condition of Schools Survey without delay, to expose the full scale of this problem. 

It’s also clear however that RAAC failure goes beyond schools, and that’s why the Government must undertake an urgent audit of public buildings to identify how widespread it really is. 

Once immediate safety risks have been resolved, we need to look to the future. We must make sure this doesn’t happen again – learn from mistakes, ensure all products are safe, and have a programme of work to upgrade buildings as they reach the end of their life. The mobilisation of private finance will be key to achieving this.” 

31 August 2023: RIBA responds to schools closing over shocking building safety fears 

RIBA President Simon Allford said: 

“All young people and staff deserve to learn and work without fearing for their safety. We have repeatedly raised concerns about the dangerous state of some school buildings – and the Government has failed to fund desperately needed repairs. 

It’s shocking to see this advice issued, just days before schools are due to reopen. 

The Government must now make it an immediate priority to identify the extent of remediations necessary and fund them without delay.”  


28 June 2023: RIBA responds to National Audit Office report on the condition of school buildings 

RIBA President Simon Allford said: 

“It is a huge concern that 700,000 pupils are being taught in buildings that require major rebuilding or refurbishment, a clear failure of the Government, who have simply not put enough money in the pot to address the scale of the problem. 

Our young people deserve educational spaces that facilitate learning and promote healthy living. We must use this opportunity to ensure all schools are well-designed, energy efficient and fit for children both today and in the future.”   


5 June 2023: Architects Journal – statement on hospital buildings 

RIBA President Simon Allford said: 

“All buildings must of course prioritise safety as a basic tenet of design. RIBA recognises the responsibilities of the architect and continues to promote high safety standards. While we welcome this funding for hospitals that are in dire need of restoration, much more is needed to address the scale of the issue across the NHS estate. The Government must not wait until buildings are in disrepair to take action.”  


23 May 2023: RIBA responds to funding for school repairs 

RIBA President Simon Allford said: 

“England’s school estate remains in serious disrepair, so I am pleased to see this funding to make much-needed upgrades. However, after many years of funding falling in real terms, this only represents a small proportion of the amount needed. 

Safety must be at the top of the agenda, but it is vital that investment also ensures that school buildings foster positive student engagement and support their communities. Whether retrofit or new build, we must deliver well-designed, energy efficient schools – architecture that guarantees that our schools are fit for future generations. 

We would urge the Government to publish the Buildings Conditions Survey – so we can better understand the scale of the problem we face.”   


16 February 2023: The Guardian - Unions call for urgent action on England’s ‘dangerous’ school buildings: RIBA weighs in as seven unions write to Department for Education over structures at risk of collapse 

It follows a call from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for full disclosure over exactly which school buildings are most at risk, and for urgent intervention to shore up those buildings most likely to structurally fail. […] Simon Allford, President of the RIBA, told the Architects’ Journal: “The safety of school building users is paramount, so the government must urgently publish the buildings conditions survey and ensure any buildings with structural safety risks are immediately assessed, interim safety measures put in place, and all necessary works scheduled to an urgent programme. 

“With so many buildings likely to be in need of overhaul, we hope to see the government seize the opportunity to invest in good design to ensure these vital community assets are fit for future generations.”   


2 February 2023: Architects Journal – RIBA presses Government to publish survey of collapsing school buildings 

RIBA President Simon Allford has called on the Government to reveal which schools are most at risk of collapsing following a delay in the publication of a survey into building safety.   

Latest updates

keyboard_arrow_up To top