Architect Chris Briffa pins the blame for the development-related problems he sees not only on “bizarre planning policies” but on how easy it has become to construct substandard buildings.

Investment and reform, he says in the latest edition of Business Now, is needed not only in planning but in aesthetic values.

“We urgently need to re-establish something similar to what was once known as the Aesthetics Board: an independent designer-based committee, separate from the planning process, which judges projects on their aesthetic merits and not on policy,” he suggests.

“Projects scoring high on planning policy but low on aesthetics will need to go back to the drawing board, while projects deemed aesthetically superior could be exempt from certain one-size-fits-all policies and get planning permission.”

Perit Briffa also points to education as the way forward. “I am convinced that one of the reasons why good architecture is fading here is because of the way it is being taught and experienced at tertiary level. The Faculty of the Built Environment has been left without any form of investment and serious reform for far too long. Good designers are rendered sterile early on, and the system rewards the crafty students, not the talented ones.”

“The only way to get a good architectural design education at the moment is to go overseas. Until we all begin to comprehend the importance of good design in anything man-made, and how central it is to ensuring quality of life in our built environment, I am afraid not much is going to improve.”

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