Architecture Update: Executive ignorance

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GUIDANCE from the Department of the Environment on how the civil service should commission new buildings is being ignored by its executive agencies, according to a report by the Arts Council's architecture unit. The 83 agencies, which include Her Majesty's Stationery Office, the UK Passport Agency and Historic Royal Palaces, were set up in the Eighties to improve civil service performance. The Arts Council survey found that civil servants, or 'project sponsors', lacked sufficient experience to commission buildings and regarded architecture as a commodity or service to be 'purchased' in the same way as office furniture and computers. The report, Architecture and Executive Agencies, is available from the Arts Council (071-973 6469).