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Self-taught graduate aims for chartership

A Scottish graduate could become the UK’s first ever self-taught chartered architect if he wins key backing from the educational establishment later this month

Ben Scrimgeour’s potentially groundbreaking move could pave the way for other aspiring architects wishing to be formally recognised for experience gained in their own practice or outside education.

The 25 year old, who runs his own design and build company Ben Scrimgeour Building Workshop, is supported by the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT).

Scrimgeour is meeting senior RIBA and ARB officials to discuss the pioneering qualification route in a couple of weeks. He said: ‘When I speak to my college contemporaries they say I’m getting far more experience of a professional nature than they do in an office.

‘The first thing you say [to a client is] “I’m not a qualified architect but I’m getting my chartership in a year’s time and I’m watched by a chartered architect all the time”.’

Peter Kahan, chief executive of Scotland’s architectural examiner APEAS, confirmed Scrimgeour’s status would not bar him from sitting the Part 3 exam, but it would be up to the examiner’s judgement to pass or fail him.

Kahan added: ‘Given the nature of the industry and the recession, as far as experience is concerned we need to look at things in a flexible manner.’

Scrimgeour, who has yet to register for his exam, was advised to work with a mentor and to seek a conventional professional services advisor (PSA), but he can proceed without officially attending an architecture school. APEAS evaluates candidates at their practice. 

Catherine Ward, regional manager for the PSYBT in Tayside, who paired the graduate with mentor and timber-frame specialist Ron MacKelvie, said: ‘We’re delighted that he’s going through this process; it seems like a very creative and innovative way of him getting his chartership.’

Neil Baxter, secretary to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, added: ‘Architects have always found a way, dating back to ancient history. As long as it conforms [to educational requirements], is legal and the person has the appropriate professional insurance to protect the client, then good on him for using his initiative.’

Scrimgeour offers his clients a ‘tea and cake,’ approach to designing a project. He said: ‘We’re trying to make it easy and simple and it works because the order books are full for the next year. I don’t know how many other architecture offices could say that.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Every best of luck in your quest to achieve chartership from what I gather is an experiential route. I would be delighted to hear how you get on.

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  • I passed the Part 3 in 2005, without an architect employer, whilst working in my own practice (as I did for the parts 1 and 2). I did not find it particularly difficult to pass as I had far more practical experience than I would have gained as a tiny cog in a huge machine.

    I attended Lincoln university occasionally and went for the interview there, but otherwise obtained advice from architect friends, RIBAnet and books. As a way to learn what you really need as an architect in practice, I thoroughly recommend it.

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