RIBA – Brief Article

Peter Davey


The website of the Royal Institute of British Architects is without doubt the most impressive of all offered by architectural institutions. It has its position because of history and vision. As the oldest extant association of architects in the world, the RIBA has the world’s best architectural library, still lovingly maintained and added to with no help from anyone but the members. It continues to buy and record all the architectural periodicals of the world, and the most important hooks in the major Western languages. Publication of its electronic catalogue (AR December 1999) is one of the greatest aids to scholarship and, properly used, to practice that can he found on the Internet and, unbelievably generously, it is offered free.

The institute’s website offers much more than the library, though nothing as spectacular. There are what are rather grandly called ribanet exhibitions – in fact links to (mostly contemporary) architects’ own sites, people like Foster and Pci, but there are historical locations too, like the Aalto site and one on medieval buildings in England and France that is both beautiful and informative. Not all, these connections worked when we tried them.

An equally ambitious project to the library one (though much more patchy) is the product selector section, which acts as a linking mechanism to the sites of mainly British manufacturers and agents. The ‘conference’ area offers RIBA members (both architects and laypeople) a bulletin and chat board.

The ‘bulletin’ area offers them three weekly email summaries of architectural news (focused naturally on Britain and Europe, but not exclusively). Other sections of this big site include Ribanet Passport, offering members (architects only) free access to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Viewswire service which produces numerous detailed and specialized reports of different aspects of markets round the world. Other enticements to the site include online communication with the Institute’s bookshops (disappointingly few cheap offers), a UK jobs service, and electronic directories of members and practices, both national and international (they were slightly wrong about me, but that’s not perhaps the fault of the system).

A site that is growing strongly, and has much to offer.

COPYRIGHT 2000 EMAP Architecture

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