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Last edited 30 Nov 2020
In the built environment, the term 'professional practice' refers to the conduct and work of someone from a particular profession. Architectural practice therefore is that area of activity that sees professional architects engaged in the design and construction of buildings, selling their services to clients while complying with the requirements of their professional body.
An architectural practice may involve a large office with hundreds of architects and other associated professions, such as structural engineers and services engineers, surveyors, marketing/PR and administrative back-up, or it may involve smaller offices with just a handful of people. The smallest architectural practice is the sole practitioner working from a home office.
Architects must be professionally qualified – in other words they have sat and passed relevant examinations, successfully worked for the prescribed periods in industry (a term sometimes used for professional practice) and satisfied the requirements of their profession’s governing body. In the UK, this may be the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), although the statutory requirement is to be registered with the Architects Regitration Board (ARB). In the US it is the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
These institutions have their respective codes of pracitce and standards that their members must follow under particular circumstances. Certain standards may also be expected by law or by contractual obligations and can include duty of care, duty to warn, and reasonable skill and care.
The term ‘chartered practice’ is legally protected and designated by professional institutions such as the (RIBA). This means that only architectural practices that are accredited by the RIBA can use the label ‘RIBA Chartered Practice’, use the RIBA logo, and include or display certification in proposals, bids or offices.
Practice or practise?
It is worth noting the difference between ‘practice’ and ‘practise’: in UK English, the former is a noun (as in architectural practice) while the latter is a verb (practise playing guitar, etc). A useful mnemonic is that practice contains ‘ice’ which is a noun. So, practise is the verb. However, in American English, 'practice' is both noun and verb.
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