Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Not [Here] No. 4 - Architectural Institutes, Societies and Associations...


The RIBA in London's Portland Place...


What Kuwait needs is an organization with a mandate to promote and advance its architecture and built environment. There is the Kuwait Society of Engineers, but its decree seems more focused on more general issues (at the top of their web-page there is a scrolling bar with the latest KSE stock prices?!), and seems to be more of a social club than something that aims to advance the objectives of the related disciplines. There also doesn't seem, at least on the English side, to be any mention of Architecture in any of the sub-categories. Most developed nations do have an institute particular for the promotion of architecture. In the UK there's the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), which is located in a bespoke, and quite lavish, building by Portland Place in central London (there are a few images included from the RIBA above and below). Other examples would be the AIA (American Institute of Architects) in the US, the AIA (Australian Institute of Architects) in Australia, and even SAFA (Suomen Arkitehdit/ Finska Arkitekter - which the author belongs to) which promotes the practice of architecture in Finland. What they all have in common is an aim to raise more awareness and care regarding what architects do, and the value of architecture and urban design in the advancement of our built vernacular (a related submission was made a short while back by fellow Kuwait based bloggers re:Kuwait). This can be achieved by promoting and explaining to the general public (through various publications or events) what architects do and how employing an architect can substantially improve the end result of a building project. It should also act as a lobbying organization which promotes the value of an enhanced built environment amongst the political class. These organizations also provide venues for architects to advance their own know-how and keep them updated regarding more recent, discipline related, R & D projects as well as exhibiting and advocating architecture through symposiums, exhibitions and publications.


The piano nobile of the RIBA...

The RIBA Gallery, here exhibiting work by contemporary Portugese architects...

Above and below - images from the RIBA exhibition...



Another example of an organization which in its own way is advancing the causes of our built environment is the Architectural Association, more commonly known as just the AA. Usually affiliated with its architectural school (the Architectural Association School of Architecture), the oldest and perhaps most prestigious architectural school in the UK, the AA also functions as association that anyone interested in architecture can join, and which functions as a community where all its members, which includes both the students and staff of the architectural school as well as the additional collective, have a say. This not only entails the right to comment during the various events and presentations taking place at Bedford Square (where the AA is located), but also in, for example, the selection of the school's head, where all members (students, staff & other) each have a vote and a right to express their opinions or query the candidates (imagine the head of KU being selected by the students and staff of the university!?). The AA also has its own publication house, gallery, cafe/ bar, and book-store (as does the RIBA)...


The Bedford Square facade of the AA...

The front members room at the AA...

The AA Digital Prototyping Lab...

There is no reason why this type(s) of organizations couldn't exist in Kuwait. One could even argue that their type of institutions are sorely needed in Kuwait. Perhaps it's time we begin doing something about it...

1 comment:

dhavamani shiva said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

Architecture Institutes