Last edited 04 Jan 2021

Professionalism for the Built Environment

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Professionalism for the Built Environment, was written by architect Simon Foxell and published by Routledge in August 2018.

Coming in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Fire, this 382-page book offers a thought-provoking assessment of the relationship between society, the economy and professionalism in the built environment. It considers the changing nature of professionalism, and the conflict between self-interest and the wider obligation professionals have to act in the public service, suggesting that there has been a move away from public service under the pressures of the market. Foxell contends that this has ‘shredded many of the core values of professionalism’.

The book outlines the history of professionalism, comparing the development of civil engineering, architecture and surveying. It examines how their systems have developed and where they are now, and highlights the prevalence and power of the large professional services companies.

The book suggests professionalism is under threat, and considers a number of options the professions might adopt for the future, whilst also asking difficult questions about ethics, training, education, public trust and expectations from within and from outside the industry. It concludes with a six-point plan for the professions if they are to remain relevant.

Foxell accepts there is no suggestion professionalism will become redundant, writing; ‘If anything, the need for the honest and impartial intermediary role will increase as society grapples with how to control ever more powerful market players and protect the interests of individuals and society.’

John Worthington, Co-founder of DEGW, former Commissioner of the Independent Transport Commission and Director of The Academy of Urbanism said; “Professionalism for the Built Environment raises our awareness of the foundations of professional society and sets the agenda for a radical reappraisal of the educational and institutional structures we may require in the future. This book stimulates debate on the professions’ responsibilities to civil society, company and self. It provides an authoritative briefing for practitioners, educators, clients and all concerned with creating a built environment that is equitable, fosters wellbeing and improves livelihoods.”

You can purchase Professionalism for the Built Environment at

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