No wonder RIBA’s election was a one-horse race

Harry Rich’s Radio 4 clutter conversation may explain architects’ reluctance to stand for president

Two reasons for the apparent lack of interest in being the next RIBA president — once regarded as architecture’s most prestigious role — are time and money. Architects must be thankful that Stephen Hodder, the only one to throw his hat into the ring, can afford to take two years out — or three if you add the year in waiting. He will make a decent and committed president. But if the lack of candidates continues, it’ll strengthen the arguments for reducing the duration and remuneration of the role.

The third reason is less easy to fix: the institute’s influence has waned. The president no longer has a hot line to ministers or sits at the top table. This is not entirely its own fault.

Government is not interested in architects but is the RIBA doing enough to address that? It has just published its bim overlay for the Plan of Work — the first change for 50 years — but a BD survey on bim adoption says the institute has done too little too late.

However, the president’s role is public-facing. To be effective it must use the media, and there can be few more influential platforms than the Today programme.

On Wednesday morning the RIBA’s chief executive Harry Rich and a “clutter fairy” were discussing lack of storage in new homes. It was the light item after a debate on Greece and the future of the Eurozone.

The chief executive — why an administrator is representing the RIBA is puzzling — talked about research that reveals a serious lack of cupboards in new homes as well as sockets. Food, we learnt, is being stored in the boot of the car and there’s no space for a Hoover.

It was not clear why this promoted architecture or what the RIBA plans to do about it.

It was excruciating to listen to, but as an example of why no one wants to stand for president it was perfect.

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