Arb to investigate role of architects in Grenfell fire

Elizabeth Hopkirk

Source: PA Images

Professional investigation to be conducted in addition to public inquiry and police probe

The Architects’ Registration Board is to investigate the role of architects in the Grenfell disaster, it has announced.

The body, which has legal responsibility for regulating the profession including the conduct and competence of individual architects, said it would be carrying out its own investigation.

The work included installation of Reynobond PE cladding which has come under scrutiny, having failed government-backed fire safety tests in all 75 cases where similar systems have been found on tower blocks.

Yesterday the US firm that supplied cladding used on Grenfell Tower said it was ending global sales of the product for use in high-rise blocks. Arconic added that it was discontinuing sales of Reynobond PE for tower blocks due to “issues” identified by the fire.

The government has already announced a public inquiry will be held into the tragedy which is so far known to have claimed the lives of more than 79 people.

And the Metropolitan Police has said it is considering manslaughter charges against companies involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

The Arb said it had fielded a number of inquiries, mostly about “the involvement or culpability of architects involved in the refurbishment”, since suspicion began to fall on last year’s £10 million recladding of the 24-storey tower. This was overseen by Studio E architects. The fire spread up the outside of the building in minutes.

The Arb’s duties under the 1997 Architects Act include ensuring that architects meet its standards for conduct and practice, and investigating complaints about an architect’s conduct or competence.

Its work is overseen by a board of 15, seven of whom are architects elected by the profession, with the remaining eight members of the public appointed by the Privy Council.

Studio E published a statement on its website the day after the fire nearly two weeks ago, saying: “We are deeply shocked and distressed over news of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower.

“Our thoughts are with those that have been affected by this tragic incident, together with all of their relatives and friends.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment or speculate on events on Wednesday morning. We will be available to assist the relevant authorities as and when we are required.”

Contacted today (Tuesday), Studio E said it had no further comment to make.

 

Arb statement in full

A number of queries have been raised with Arb in respect of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. In the main these related to the involvement or culpability of architects involved in the refurbishment of the tower. Arb has responsibilities to uphold good standards in the profession, both in terms of regulating the conduct and competence of individual professionals, and in ensuring that educational standards are sufficiently robust to produce architects capable of providing high-quality architecture.

The exact causes of the fire are yet to be established, and there has been a public inquiry announced that will seek to establish the facts behind the disaster. Arb will be undertaking its own investigations as to the involvement of any architects, but not making any further comment unless and until disciplinary matters reach the public domain.

 

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