Last edited 13 May 2021




[edit] Introduction

The term 'architect' has been used for many centuries, but the architect as a recognised profession is a relatively modern concept dating back to the mid 16th century, from the French architecte and Italian architetto (originating from the Greek arkhitekton, where arkhi means 'chief' and tekton 'builder'). The term and what it represents has evolved through history to its current form in which architects are seen as highly-qualified and educated professionals.

See The History of the architect as a profession for more information.

[edit] Regulation of architects

Although buildings in the UK are commonly designed by people who are not architects, the term ‘architect’ itself is protected by the Architects Act 1997 which established the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Only qualified individuals that are registered with the ARB can offer their services as architects. Section 20 of the Architects Act states that 'A person shall not practise or carry on business under any name style or title containing the word “architect” unless he is a person registered under this Act'.

The ARB has responsibility for:

ARB issues a code of conduct for architects and can take action against those falling short of the code’s standards.

Architects can also become chartered members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), but this is voluntary and is not necessary to practice as an architect.

See The History of the architect as a profession for more information.

In November 2020, the government announced a consultationon changes to the Architects Act to make competence assesssment compulsory. For more information see: ‎Architects' building safety competence consultation.

[edit] Training

The most common route into the profession is through university study, broken down into 3 parts:

  • Part 1 – Honours degree in architecture, followed by 1 year out in practice under the guidance of an architect and monitored and recorded in line with RIBA requirements.
  • Part 2 - Masters, Diploma or BArch (depending on the individual school) taught in university for 2 to 3 years, followed by a further monitored and recorded year in practice.
  • Part 3 - the RIBA final exam.

The RIBA Examination in Architecture for Office-based Candidates is an alternative route to qualification for Part 1 and Part 2 for people working full-time under the supervision of an architect. Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ experience in architectural practice to join the examination at Part 1; or 3 years post-Part 1 experience to join the Part 2 stage (as well as holding Part 1).

Recently, there is concern that architectural training has become relatively expensive as universities can charge fees of up to £9,000 a year. Training to become an architect takes at least seven years, with four or five of these at university. Adding in necessary living expenses on top of university fees, it is thought that the total cost of training to become an architect could be as much as £100,000.

This may result in architecture becoming the preserve of students whose parents are able to support them through their training. Whilst the number of applications for places at schools of architecture remains high, increasingly this is from students outside the EU, with applications from UK and EU students decreasing.

NB On 27 June 2018, the Institute for Apprenticeships approved standards and end point assessment documents for an architectural assistant apprenticeship, which encompasses a Part 1 qualification, and an architect apprenticeship, which encompasses a Part 2 qualification and a Part 3 qualification. Ref

See architectural training for more information.

For the types of modules that students study as part of architecture degree courses, see Architecture course essentials.

[edit] Statutory responsibilities

According to the ARB's Architect's code: Standards of Conduct and Practice, an architect is expected to:

  1. Be honest and act with integrity.
  2. Be competent.
  3. Promote their services honestly and responsibly.
  4. Manage their business competently.
  5. Consider the wider impact of their work.
  6. Carry out their work faithfully and conscientiously.
  7. Be trustworthy and look after their clients’ money properly.
  8. Have appropriate insurance arrangements.
  9. Maintain the reputation of architects.
  10. Deal with disputes or complaints appropriately.
  11. Co-operate with regulatory requirements and investigations.
  12. Have respect for others.

[edit] Practice

The roles within working practice have become fairly standardised. Positions in a typical UK practice include:

For more information, see Practice management.

[edit] Continuing professional development

The ARB code states that architects ‘are expected to keep (their) knowledge and skills relevant to (their) professional work up to date and be aware of the content of guidelines issued by the Board (ARB)...’ The RIBA has developed a curriculum for continuing professional development (CPD), and it is considered that anyone satisfying the RIBA’s requirements is likely to satisfy the ARB that they have maintained their competence.

It is widely accepted that any person offering a professional services must maintain the standards of that service through continuing professional development. Both the ARB codes and the RIBA Code of professional conduct requires this of registered members.

[edit] ARB CPD

The Architects' Registration Board requires that architects keep relevant knowledge and skills up-to-date, and are aware of the content of any guidelines issued by the board. The ARB advises that architects think laterally and encourages CPD to be undertaken in a number of ways:

[edit] RIBA CPD

The RIBA introduced mandatory CPD on the 1st of April 1999. Unlike the ARB, the RIBA approach requires chartered members to participate in a system that focuses on time, points and core curriculum.

To maintain competence requires:

  • 35 hours of CPD; along with
  • 100 points which you give to activities where you are using self-reflection
  • at least half of your CPD activity, where possible, structured
  • at least 20 hours of CPD on core curriculum topics (at least two hours on each topic each year)
  • a record of your CPD online using our CPD recording manager

[edit] Professional Indemnity Insurance

The ARB code required that architects maintain 'adequate and appropriate' professional indemnity insurance (PIII). The level of PII required will vary considerably depending on the role of the individual and the size and nature of the projects they undertake, however, ARB state that ‘in any event an architect is expected to hold a limit of indemnity of no less than £250,000’.

See Professional Indemnity Insurance for more information.

[edit] Appointing an architect

There are approximately 33,500 registered architects in the UK. 20% of architects in the UK are female.

There are a number of sources of information to help clients find an appropriate architect for their project:

A survey by the RIBA in 2014 (Ref RIBA Journal February 2014) revealed that the most common methods of appointing architects were:

Direct appointment 50%
Competitive fee bid or financial tender only 21%
Framework agreement with or without further competition for specific projects 10%
Invited competitive interview (no pre-qualification questionnaire PQQ) 4%
Expression of interest / PQQ only (no design work) 3%
Expression of interest / PQQ followed by competitive interview (no design work) 3%
Expression of interest / PQQ followed by design competition 2%
Invited design competition (no PQQ) 1%
Open design competition 1%
Other 4%

Smaller practices tended to be appointed mostly by direct appointment (61%), whereas this was less common for larger practices (25%).

It is important that an architect's appointment is set out in writing as soon as is practically possible, defining the scope of services that are likely to be required and the fee that will be charged for those services. If the architect is to perform lead designer or lead consultant roles, this must be clearly agreed.

A number of standard forms exist for the appointment of an architect:

For a description of how to select and appoint a consultant, such as an architect, see: Appointment.

[edit] Role of an architect

Detailed descriptions of the tasks performed by an architect for different procurement routes can be found in the free work plans available on the Designing Buildings Wiki home page, however, very broadly, the role performed by an architect might include:

[edit] Additional services

It is important to note some services will only be undertaken by the architect if they are specifically identified in their appointment documents, and will not be included within the architect's fee on all projects. These are described as 'other services' on some forms of appointment. 'Other services' might include:

For detailed descriptions of the sequence of activities necessary to appoint architects, see the work plan stages:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references


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