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RIBA launch 'independent' review of ARB


The RIBA has launched its own review of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to look at the ‘future of regulation and registration of the architects’ profession’

As predicted by the AJ last July, the institute has brought in an external, independent expert to see how the current system could be overhauled.

The AJ can reveal that the RIBA has appointed 74-year-old education specialist Christopher Ball to carry out ‘the research project’ which aims to investigate the ‘the benefits and drawbacks of the current regulations for the consumer and the professional practitioner’.

More importantly Ball, who is expected to consult with both the ARB and Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture (SCHOSA), is expected to propose ‘alternative sustainable models for regulation and registration’.   

RIBA President Ruth Reed said: ‘Whatever the outcome of the next General Election, it is likely that the question of deregulation will feature on the political agenda.  For these reasons, the RIBA has decided that it is an appropriate time to review whether the current model of regulation and registration of architects is necessary and proportionate; and whether it meets the needs of both the profession and the public.

This research project is very much in line with recent reviews undertaken by other professions, including law, medicine and accountancy.’

ARB Reform Group figurehead George Oldham – speaking as an RIBA member – said: ‘This initiative is both welcome and overdue and a fitting legacy of  Sunand [Prasad]’s excellent presidency. 

‘It is some 15 years since John Warne’s review, sadly rejected by the profession, and it is certainly time to look again at how the profession is best regulated in the public interest.’

Alison Carr, ARB’s registrat and chief executive, said: ‘We look forward to meeting Sir Christopher and ensuring that he has a good understanding of what ARB does under the terms of the Act. We always welcome the opportunity to explain how we deliver the Act in a way that is cost effective and proportionate.’

The report is due for completion in December 2009.



Sir Christopher Ball

Born in 1935, he was educated at Oxford and after National Service with the Parachute Regiment became a lecturer in Comparative Linguistics at London University, then Fellow in English at Lincoln College, Oxford; served with the Council for National Academic Awards; formerly Warden of Keble College, Oxford, and Chairman of the Board of the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education. 

He was the president of the Association of Colleges of Further and Higher Education 1990-92, chairman of the Education-Industry Forum (Industry Matters, RSA) from 1989-90, and of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling (1989-92) and in recent years

He is married, with six children, and eight grandchildren.

At the age of seventy he partly retired from public life to devote himself to a small number of specific high-value projects – as well as running marathons, writing poetry, and helping small charities raise funds.


Readers' comments (2)

  • There's an interesting BD article from a couple of years ago on Title Protection I found whilst writing a piece about a similar topic:

    (Scroll down to article titles "A very British question of title").

    What concerns me about the ARB is this following page:


    It's shockingly inaccurate and misleading considering it comes from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which is headed by the Secretary of State; the same person who is consulted on appointing ARB board members.

    The Architects Act 1997 contradicts the following points on the page... It was not succeeded it was renamed, and the act doesn't "guarantee" anything to "consumers of >architectural< services". The page as a whole also suggests those offering architectural services must be registered by its use of ridiculous phrases like “all architects must be registered”.

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  • John Kellett

    The phrase "all architects must be registered" is not ridiculous. It is a statement of fact resulting from the Architects Act. What is ridiculous is a situation where unqualified people are allowed to design buildings, it's no different to allowing hospital porters (with years of medical experience) carry out the functions of a doctor.
    Architectural technologists are qualified to deal with some of the technical aspects of designing buildings (as are structural engineers and services engineers, etc) and to continue the medical theme nurses are permitted to carry out some medical tasks.
    Protecting the public from unqualified providers of 'architectural services' can only be done by restricting function to members of the appropriate professional body (RIBA or CIAT or RICS or ICE or CIBSE etc) as is the case in many other fields of human activity and parts of the world.

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