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Let's scrap the ARB and reshape our profession

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I am an architectural technician and have just voted 'strongly' to the question on the AJ+ website that the ARB should be abolished. Architecture generally is or certainly seems to be in decline. The reasons for this are well commented on.

My proposals are that the legally protected status of the title 'architect' is abolished; the RIBA should absorb BIAT; and education and training should be changed.

After all, we are doing the same job. I've read that 60 per cent of technicians/technologists and about 35 per cent of architects have gone from architectural practice; and that 66 per cent of architects never design anything once they qualify - they become project managers and administrators, and some are technology specialists.

Technicians are not trained to design, but many learn through experience. There is, however, an HNC or HND course for architectural design technicians and I've seen architectural practices advertising for design technicians.

BIAT has introduced TBIAT in addition to MBIAT, and perhaps will need to introduce a DBIAT designation. The RIBA has contemplated a similar system in recognition that people specialise, hopefully according to aptitudes.

I have worked with architects who cannot design and technicians who can. Architects often complain about the poor quality of building design by development and design-andbuild companies. Yet most of what I've worked on and most buildings designed by architectural practices here in Northern Ireland are of appalling low quality.

It takes seven years to qualify as an architect and six years for a technician/technologist. In reality, it takes at least 10 years to become reasonably able in the job. I believe the education system should change, with a BSc or BA in architecture followed by work experience and parttime study, with options to follow a specialised route.

To qualify would take 10 years, but what's the hurry? You would still be doing the same job in the meantime.

As an alternative, a part-time work/study route should be on offer, based on ONC and HNC courses. There should be more than one route to becoming an architect and I suspect many talented people are being shut out because of the current system.

If it was the same all around the world then we probably would never have heard of Peter Zumthor, Tadao Ando and many others, who had no formal training.

Larry Parker, via e-mail

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