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Irish ad ‘discriminates’ against unqualified architects

Regulators have banned an Irish advertising campaign aimed at encouraging the use of qualified architects

The radio commercials, funded by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), asked listeners if they would trust an unqualified surgeon or dentist, adding: ‘So why trust an unqualified architect?’

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) ruled the adverts were misleading because they implied architects who were not fully qualified were untrustworthy.

Irish state broadcaster RTE withdrew the commercials and issued an apology.

The decision followed complaints by the Architects’ Alliance, a body that represents unqualified people who provide architectural services.

Tom O’Grady, who lodged a complaint, claims he lost two clients because of the campaign, reports The Irish Times.

RIAI was promoting a new register launched with the Irish Department of the Environment that controls the use of the title ‘architect’.

John Graby, Director of RIAI thinks the decision reflects a ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ of the lawful register.

He said: ‘It is entirely legitimate to say that the public is entitled to trust a qualified architect on the register, and it does seem that in the considerations of the BAI this point has been missed.’

Read the BAI’s decision, the RIAI’s response and the BAI’s response in full.

The ruling comes as the country’s architectural profession continues to be savaged by the economic downturn. Earlier this month it emerged almost two thirds of architects and architectural technicians in Ireland had been made redundant in the past two years.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Surely the point of a controlled title is that there is no such thing as an unqualified architect? Am I missing something?

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  • But what exactly is an architect? There are plenty of architects who have little idea of how to actually build something . . .

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    What is an 'unqualified architect'?

    Brian Waters, president ACA

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  • "the adverts were misleading because they implied architects who were not fully qualified were untrustworthy."....

    I don't know the position of legal protection of the word "architect" in Ireland, but in the UK ARCHITECTS who are not fully qualified are not ARCHITECTS. You cannot claim to be partly qualified, so any "not fully qualified" architect is untrustworthy in the sense they are breaking the law if they claim to be a "partly qualified Architect".

    They should clearly tell their clients they are "not Architects", not avoid the question and imply they are... just not qualified.

    "qualified architects" as a term should not even need to exist. You would not claim to be a "qualified doctor".

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  • Shouldn't they rename themselves: The architectural services alliance... as they are a body that represents non qualified persons who provide architectural services.

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  • John Kellett

    It would appear from the RIAI and BAI responses that the problem with the ad was the reference to non-architect providers of architectural services being untrustworthy. They might be more untrustworthy in the fact there is no guarantee of having any qualifications, training or Code of Professional Conduct to abide by. If the ad had used a phrase like "only architects registered with whoever are entitled to call themselves architects and have the relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience to design buildings from inception to completion" they might have stood a better chance". Technologists please note the careful positioning of the word 'and'!!!!

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