University of Westminster flag

Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE) Seminar (as part of Westminster Business School seminar series)

Speaker: Dr Frank Duffy,
Discussant: Tony Burke - Introduced by Professor Kate Heron, Head of Architectural Department
Venue: Room M205 followed by drinks (M206)

For further information, contact Linda Clarke, 020350 66528.
To reserve a place, contact: Haydn Worley, 020350 67152

In 1962 the Emmerson Report, A Survey of Problems Before the Construction Industry, concluded that, ‘‘in no other important industry is the responsibility for design so far removed from the responsibility for production.’’ These problems, still endemic in today’s industry, are associated with the range of different construction professions, overlaps between them and the difficulties of integration and communication - not just between professionals themselves but between them and the labour process they seek to affect. Professional education has suffered from hopelessly monolithic views of professional roles, from the private practice principal to the public servant. Now institutional degradation opens the door to what has been incipient for the last thirty years.

Drawing on the recent article with Andrew Rabeneck in Building Research and Information on ‘Professionalism and architects in the 21st century’, Frank Duffy will review changes in the architectural profession over the last fifty years, arguing that construction professionals need to place more emphasis on the public good by creating and sharing an open-ended, disinterested interdisciplinary body of knowledge about buildings. The different approaches that he proposes avoid however a return to the mythical golden age of 1945-70. Tony Burke will act as discussant, seeking to situate Frank’s considerations relating to architecture within the context of all building professionals and proposing radical changes to the education of the professions as a solution to the ever increasing distance between design and production. 

Frank Duffy is founder of DEGW, the international architectural and design practice best known for the office of the future, the flexible workplace and, more recently, for advanced thinking on the programming of education and arts facilities. Frank is particularly noted for his work on the future of the office and the flexible use of space. He was president of the RIBA from 1993-95 and is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Architectural Foundation. More recently his interests have focused on the challenges that increasing reliance on virtual communication is bringing into urban design.

Tony Burke is a principal lecturer and leader of the undergraduate Construction Studies programme in the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, with a special interest in the relationship between higher education and professional careers in construction.

About ProBE
ProBE is a joint research centre between the Westminster Business School (WBS) and the School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), one committed to the development of a rich programme of research and related activities, including projects, oral history, film, exhibitions, and seminars. ProBE provides a research hub, a forum for debate and discussion, and a focus for interdisciplinary and international activity related to the production of the built environment, as a social process, and its members have long experience of research on VET in the construction industry in Britain and abroad.

Coffee/tea will be available from 4.45pm and the seminar will begin at 5pm and run until 6.30pm, followed by drinks and snacks and a chance to chat.