You may remember from previous entries that I’ve been involved with the Birmingham School of Architecture, as both student and teacher, for many years. For the last few months there has been turmoil at the school following some poor results and press coverage that has done serious damage to it’s reputation.

I’ve just received this e-mail from Kevin Singh, Course Director of the post graduate diploma.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great regret that I send this email but the Birmingham School of Architecture’s future is at severe risk.

I enclosed an edited version of a recent report from the University’s Vice Chancellor Dr Peter Knight which announces the disolving of the Faculty of the Built Environment. Several of the courses are being placed into another Faculty but the future of the School of Architecture is thrown into serious doubt.

The attachment has been edited for brevity but I have attempted to maintain the key points and I have highlighted the key sentences for your convenience but these include statements which are extremely worrying.

There is a suggestion that the School could move to the Art & Design Faculty which I guess most of us would welcome and place the school in a more design led environment. It is also a common belief that the School would thrive in a city centre location rather than at Perry Barr.

This revelation is apparently not related to the BA problems over the summer which I now feel are behind us. The working group report was released yesterday and copies are being made public.

As trusted colleagues who have always supported the school I am asking each and every one of you to write to the Chair of the Board of Governers as a matter of urgency. I don’t think I need to tell anyone how critical it is for us all that the City retains a school of architecture. We are also the only realistic provider of part time courses for many students and I know that several of you spend your employees here to study with us. The Part 3 course which many of you are very familiar with would almost certain be lost as well.

I appreciate that the school has had a turbulent recent history but I believe that many of you are aware the good work that is being done here by both staff and students but I urge you all to take action on this to save our school. I believe that another local Univeristy undertook a feasibility study on setting up a school of architecture and found it to be unviable – this suggests that it is unlikely for a school to be created if we lose the one we have. Please do not leave this to others – we need your help.

Please send letters of support to:-

Mr Paul Sabapathy
Chair of the UCE Board of Governers
2 Mulroy Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B74 2PY

Finally I ask that you all spread this email as widely as you can to maximise on support.

Many thanks

Kevin W Singh RIBA
Course Director PG Diploma in Architecture
Birmingham School of Architecture & Landscape

You can download the attached report here (37K word doc).

If any of you care about architectural education (I know at least a few of my readers are architecture students), please read the document and respond.

The school has been underfunded and unsupported by the University for as long as I’ve been involved with it – I started in 1993. From the looks of the comments from the Vice Chancellor in the report, a decision to move the school into the city centre to join the Institute of Art and Design campus is being seen as an opportunity to question the value of the school. Unbelievebly, a proposal that many have wished for for years may now bring about the death of the school, since the Vice Chancellor suggests that architecture, the mother of all arts, isn’t that “…closely aligned to the design disciplines.”

I’m going to have to go away and think about that for a bit.