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British architecture institute constructs better cooperation

By XU LIN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-25 07:55

Allan Vallance, chief executive of the Royal Institute of British Architects. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Royal Institute of British Architects is laying solid foundations in China as it plans to open an office in Shanghai soon, its first on the mainland, and seeks to build up cooperation and construct greater educational structures.

The London-based professional body for architects was founded under a Royal Charter granted in 1837 and a Supplemental Charter in 1971. Its membership spans the globe.

"We've seen much demand in Beijing and Shanghai for the RIBA's expertise and collaboration, and the challenge is that we need to make sure we can service all of those expectations," says the RIBA's chief executive Alan Vallance, who recently visited Beijing and Shanghai.

For example, the institute will be running more member events, bringing architects from the United Kingdom to share ideas, according to Vallance.

The RIBA has more than 48,000 members worldwide, 6,000 of whom are outside of the UK, including about 1,400 in China.

"The reason we will set up in Shanghai first is because the majority of the existing members of the RIBA who live and work on the Chinese mainland are based in Shanghai. So we're looking to get their support to help us get started here," he says.

"Both Beijing and Shanghai are significant cities. We haven't made any firm plans for having a chapter in Beijing yet, but we expect to do that in the future."

Top architects, he says, set the standards which others aspire to, show a vision that others follow and are bold enough to carry out that vision. Constructing a building is a team effort and architects also need to foster a good relationship with their clients.

The RIBA is also an education institution that validates university courses around the world.

"There's a lot of demand for overseas validations as well, because universities value our brand and they know it represents the highest standard of education and practice," he says.

The RIBA has validated two schools of architecture in China-the university of Nottingham Ningbo China in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, and Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Both are Sino-foreign universities, set up by Chinese universities and their UK counterparts.

Gisela Loehlein, head of the Architecture and Design Department at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, hails the cooperation. "Students will benefit greatly since it will allow them access to an international network and become global professionals. The RIBA's chapter in Shanghai will further support that and enable a bridge from academia to practice that is of the highest professional level."

Vallance says they've held discussions with several Chinese universities who are interested in getting RIBA validation.

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