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Luder unveils new vision for ARB and the architect's role

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New chairman of the ARB Owen Luder has set out his vision for how the regulatory body will develop, including a fundamental review of the profession and of the role of the architect.

Luder, who took over from Barbara Kelly in May, pledged last week to move the four-year-old organisation onto a new level by speeding up disciplinary procedures, raising its public profile and building bridges with the RIBA.

'Now that the ARB is up and running, we can widen our horizons, ' he said.

Key to Luder's time in office will be an examination of how the regulator should respond to the fundamental changes taking place within the profession. He has set up a working party to consider whether the overarching qualification 'architect' should be replaced by a range of titles which reflect increasing specialisation within the profession.

'The whole pattern is changing, ' he said. 'The architecture profession is quite different to what it was 20-30 years ago. In all probability, the next 10 years will be fundamentally different again.'

Luder said that although the sole practitioner continues to act as master architect, overseeing all aspects of a project, architects in the larger practices tend to specialise in different areas. Many work exclusively in concept design, the production of construction information and project management. And new roles have developed recently in accessibility, health and safety, interior design, urban design and sustainability.

'While registration is currently based on the concept of the 'master architect' it must react to the profession as it is now and architects must reflect the needs of clients, ' he said.

One possible response could be through an overhaul of the education system, with students given the option to specialise after completion of Part 1 or offered additional specialist training after completion of Part 3. The division of the profession into a number of specialist roles would bring architects more in line with other professionals such as lawyers or doctors. 'These are all the sorts of things we need to explore, ' he said. 'I want the group to look at all the issues.'

But he denied that this was a signal that he would be leading the regulator back into the fray with the RIBA over education, citing one of his key ambitions as improving dialogue with the institute.

Luder also promised to promote the regulator's work to the wider public, and to ram home the message to consumers that they must ensure they are hiring a registered architect.

The working group will include former RIBA presidents Marco Goldschmied and Frank Duffy, Ian Davidson, John Wright and lay members Alan Crane and Jane Rees. It will produce its findings in the autumn. If the ARB decides to pursue changes these could come about 'sooner rather than later'.

Luder will only be able to act as chairman for one year before his six-year term on the board comes to an end.

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