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Last chance to fill out the survey: Should the title of architect be protected?

As the government begins its three yearly review of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and its role, we want to know what’s most important to you in terms of protection of title and function

At the end of last year RIBA council reaffirmed its commitment to abolish the register and take over the statutory maintenance of architects’ title.

The institute intends to push ministers for the abolition of the board as part of the government’s triennial review of the quango’s functions later this month.

Whether you are an architect, an architectural technician, a student or working within the profession, we want to hear your views.

Is the current regulatory set up value for money? Should the title of architect be protected? Should the ARB really be abolished?

Readers' comments (16)

  • The title must be protected, it is a right and a duty. Architecture is not engineering. Besides too many people like to pretend they are architects with dreadful results. It is time we fight for our rights, it is time to fight for architecture, it is time to fight for culture. Architecture is what is left when time passes by. Can you imagine London without the Mall?

    Eugenio Aguinaga
    Architect
    Madrid

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  • Architect title should be protected - but still many clients and often many other members of the construction profession still do not understand or realise the difference - especially for smaller projects such as domestic work, one off houses, extensions etc so this message should be made clearer. In terms of the regulatory body who performs this - maybe it should be driven by the RIBA now.

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  • "Architecture is not engineering."

    There's no need to be rude about others' professions. Particularly one much more difficult than your own.

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  • Paul McGrath

    My view is the role should have 'protection' through educational standards and understandable measures of competency. It is unacceptable that untrained, uneducated people can be regarded by uninformed clients as being similar to highly educated and skilled 'architects'. It is that association which will always threaten to devalue the profession.

    As a Part 2, I am in favour of a system of voluntary registration for all those who practice architecture and have an architectural education. (For example for Part 2's working in offices.) The legal protection of the title of architect however, means little to the wider public and some clients but the role of the architect is still highly respected.

    To my way of thinking, professional credibility has nothing to do with legally enforced titles.

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  • J Burden

    The title should be protected even if it is difficult to protect the function, after all we don't have a monopoly on creativity or technical know-how.

    There is confusing culture difference between the ARB and RIBA and they need to work with each other if they want to help both Architects and Clients by setting out the value of using an Architect.

    The ARB website is clear and public friendly with helpful links to find an architect and complaints procedures. However, it's a bit like a 'Trust a trader' type website, I don't think design is even mentioned. As design is our key skill this is a big oversight.

    The RIBA website is more design orientated and is aimed at Architects themselves, showcasing exhibitions and reports. Personally, I find the small white on black script at the top hard to read and a Client would need to do some navigating to get the information they might be looking for in regard to how and why they should hire and Architect. (When they get there, the guides are very good!).

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  • ...using the title of architect to sell professional services should be legally framed and regulated.
    However, the right to use the word architect attached to one's name as a title gained studying and legitimised working as a professional in a different country should also be granted. One should have the right to be called architect even when one is not legally allowed to sell professional services that are limited by the UK law. The way in which sometimes the RIBA or the ARB approach the title looks as if somehow a word could have been privatised.
    Also, architecture is older than architects. Certain forms of adapting, extending and self building, among others, could be allowed as a right to make one's place in the world. In particular when access to affordable architecture is sometimes impossible for people economically challenged.
    Controversial I know...

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  • There needs to be much more work done to inform clients of what an Architect actually is/does. Too many members of the public only see us as artists and not as the professionals who should be guiding clients and others through the process of a projects procurement.
    There has to be a middle ground that protects function by promoting the profession and what it can achieve.
    The ARB doesn't seem to have any real ability to promote, only to punish. The RIBA probably has the standing with the public but I think it needs to be a very different organisation to achieve what the profession needs if it is to essentially take over running it.

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  • ...using the title of architect to sell professional services should be legally framed and regulated.
    However, the right to use the word architect attached to one's name as a title gained studying and legitimised working as a professional in a different country should also be granted. One should have the right to be called architect even when one is not legally allowed to sell professional services that are limited by the UK law. The way in which sometimes the RIBA or the ARB approach the title looks as if somehow a word could have been privatised.
    Also, architecture is older than architects. Certain forms of adapting, extending and self building, among others, could be allowed as a right to make one's place in the world. In particular when access to affordable architecture is sometimes impossible for people economically challenged.
    Controversial I know...

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  • The title Architect is and should be legally protected, as it confirms that the user has gone through the full RIBA training to get it. But as anyone can design and build buildings all that the ARB can do is protect the word. I have never understood why the RIBA cannot absorb the ARB - there must be financial savings as well as the advantage that they could work together to promote architecture.

    J. Burden is spot on in her observation that the RIBA website is not user friendly. The tiny print and institutional image would not make a potential client excited about finding an architect - what are they thinking of? Of course, it is the professional clients who know already, not the small member of the public looking for someone to design their office or home. The opening page should make it clear what we do that is unique - the first lesson in selling anything…

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  • I know of at least one person who didn't go through the training, didn't belong to a professional body, did very much his own thing, never took a professional qualification and yet had a highly successful career.

    His name: Carlo Scarpa.

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  • The £0.5M worse off that I am currently - having not managed to transfer from being an assistant to an employed ‘architect by title’ as yet - will have been in vain if ‘title protection’ were to be abolished!

    2017 is a long way away, in terms of [expensively] working towards my objective, meaning further wasted earning potential yet to come, in spite of my experience.

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  • John Kellett

    Not only should the title be protected, the function and role of architect should be protected to. Most of the rest of the developed World think it sensible to protect the public by such legislation, the Canadian system being of particular note.

    In fact, in the interests of public safety and protection from 'cowboys', the role of ALL construction professionals should be protected. For example there are no restrictions on who can call themselves a structural engineer, building services engineer, building surveyor or technologist. The only protection that the public has is 'Chartered' status but that is not backed by legislation as it should be.

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  • J Burden

    I'd like to revise my comment and say that protection is absolutely necessary for domestic clients who are still prone to using cowboy designers and builders with horrible and heartbreaking results.

    That said, I'd ask whether commercial clients really need protecting from pretend architects.

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  • Relating to Architecture, all professional titles regardless the level of education should be implemented and protected at all costs, and penalize anyone using the same title if is not qualified for it, one should be able to identify an individual for the require need taking in consideration type of service require, that will determine the type of fee to be payed for the required project documentation.

    Regarding the function an Architect by rights he is an Artist, that has learned to combine his ability to visualize forms and shapes and has a basic knowledge of various materials for the realization physically for human and animal benefits. The main beneficial of an Architect is having the knowledge to design more accurately anything that he can interpret from someone else idea or requirements in conjunction with his ideas and knowledge for needed function.

    No one has the right to criticize or degrade any Architect or a matter of fact, any one else that is not an Architect that has created the design, the reason is just an idea to be considered, we are all independent individuals mentally. I know that is a very sore point that there are people that are non Architects that have design in the past and present fantastic buildings that have been built very successfully and get admired by many. Because you may see something that you personalty don't like, it not means that is the perception that everyone else has.

    We are living on a open liberal civilized world, that is fantastic to have varies pleasing ideas for looks in construction. Can you imagine if every designer will follow the same ideas of type of designs pattern with a restriction of expression ?

    Architects or any non Architectural degree individuals documentation ideas, need to obtain various types of calculation from Engineers, various professionals Consultants advice to be able to realize they designed vision. If not, his idea will be just an idea. So, if we want to be honest and realistic I cannot see the need for the protection of the function of any Architect, reason be, he will not going to erect anything by himself, he just merely placing forward his personal well designed documentation to various professions for his work be realized physically and appreciated.

    With today available means of open ready knowledge that we have in computers, there is no need to anyone not be able to distinguish the meaning and the value of a Architectural Professor, a Architect, a Architectural Technologist, a Architectural Technician or a Architectural Draughtsman, this type of available information at our finger tips it will give anyone a excellent idea, what one is going to lead with, for the required needs. This is one of the reasons that we must never underestimate the intelligence of the others, to be able to contract the right person for the job size that needs to be done.

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  • When, oh when, will architects understand that their title IS already protected without the necessity for the ARB? The Fraud Act 2006 is far more effective in prosecuting those who, without qualifications, would fraudulently represent themselves as architects, and with significantly more teeth than the Architects Act 1997 which limits the amount of any fine, (the most recent was for a derisory £400). The Fraud Act by contrast allows for UNLIMITED damages against anyone pretending to any title which cannot be justified by qualification. Thus any Chartered Architect, or even any "unattached" architect is protected without the need for statutory protection by the Arb which is truly redundant.

    Architects, in the lifetime of the Arb have spent more than £30 million on less than 30 cases brought by the Arb; one test case brought either by an individual or the RIBA on behalf of its members would blow the Arb out of the water.

    It is not simply that neither the profession nor the public now requires this pointless organisation for protection, it is that the Arb consistently demonstrates its contempt for the profession that supports it, whether it is in controversially prosecuting small practices whose only redress is through the high courts at a cost of over £25k, (last year the Arb spent over £800, 000 of your money in legal legal fees), or in not recognising RIBA validated schools of architecture abroad, the Arb is doing the profession serious damage. I spent six years on the Arb Board fighting their distrust and contempt for the profession and, with the Arb Reform Group, heading off their attempt to impose their own CPD and annual monitoring proposals. This is an organisation which claims to protect the consumer but does not advise that its EU members can be registered without taking part 3. The list is endless and it is time for the profession to tell the government through the Triennial Review that this pointless and parasitic organisation, (nearly £1million of your money a year spent duplicating the RIBA's education programme), has to go.

    George Oldham

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  • The UK Government needs to bring in 'Protection of Function of Architect' to protect the safety of the UK public and their building investments.. The Irish Government have just legislated for 'Protection of Function of Architect' over growing concerns about the number of building failures being caused by the unqualified and non-architects designing buildings. The UK Insurance Industry are having to pick up the cost of poorly designed and detailed buildings on the publics home and buildings insurance cover.

    77% of countries in the developed world have 'Protection of Function of Architect to protect their people from building design failures!

    Germany has 'Protection of Function of Architect' and 'Minimum Architects Fee Scales' which ensures that their architects are receiving sufficient fee income to provide a professional service.

    According to Building Design 22% of UK architects are out of work and a further 9% have left the architects profession.

    According to the RIBA Insurance Agency UK architects fees have dropped by 40% since 2008. Yet the amount of Building Legislation in the UK is at an all time high! How does the RIBA expect UK architects to provide a professional service on that level of remuneration?

    UK developers are not engaging the architects profession, as a consequence the UK is being filled with the same banal little 'Toy Town' housing developments up and down the country.

    Yes, George Oldham, The latest Manchester Architects Salary Survey, with salaries indicated by 186 architects and comments from most, makes extremely sorry reading,

    George Oldham's comment: "Yes, the MSA survey makes sad reading, but “architects poorly paid” hardly news".

    I hope he is going to do something about it!

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