More than two thirds of the profession want the government to bring in protection of function, allowing only registered architects to design buildings
New research by the AJ found that 68 per cent of architects would back a move to legally oblige clients to use ARB-registered professionals for certain work – with an overwhelming 90 per cent demanding the continued protection of title.
The survey, completed by more than 800 readers, also revealed that 59 per cent of architects want the ARB’s role to be incorporated into the RIBA.
The findings come as the government carries out its three-yearly review of the ARB and its role in protecting the architect’s title – an evaluation which could see the registration board disbanded or reformed.
Carl Turner, who won the 2013 Manser Medal, is among those supporting the introduction of protection of function, similar to regulations in force in the United States and Russia.
He said: ‘All planning applications should be submitted either by a planning professional or a registered architect. This seemingly simple requirement would put architects at the heart of the planning process and, at the same time, surely raise the bar in terms of design quality for all projects.’
However, former RIBA president Sunand Prasad was unconvinced by the demands. He said: ‘It is a little like the tax system. It is something so entrenched that introducing protection of function goes beyond the realms of possibility.
‘It is a non-starter with government, regardless of whether it is a good idea or not. I feel it will also disappear from other parts of the world.’
Respondents to the online survey were widely critical of the ARB’s current performance, with 67 per cent of architects saying the ARB didn’t do enough to protect the architect’s title and 58 per cent saying that the board’s annual retention fee did not offer value for money.
There was also bad news for the RIBA: three quarters of architects responding to the survey said the institute did not deliver good value for its members.
Former RIBA president Owen Luder said: ‘Those in charge of the RIBA at present should take notice that 75 per cent of members do not consider the RIBA subscription value for money. If the ordinary members were aware of some of the present RIBA policies, the percentage would go up to 90 per cent.’
· 90 per cent of architects think the title ‘architect’ should be protected
· 68 per cent of architects think protection of function would be better for the profession
· A third of architects said having the title allowed them to charge higher fees, a third said it didn’t and a third said it makes no difference
· 67 per cent of architects said the ARB doesn’t do enough to protect the title
· 59 per cent of architects said the role of the ARB should be incorporated into the RIBA
Karl Grace, president of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT):
‘I was interested to see the majority support the protection of title. CIAT’s view is that, although this is a positive practice which protects the general public, we would like to see the inclusion of Chartered Architectural Technologist to further ensure their interests.
‘Consideration should be given to protecting other titles used by professionals within the built environment. However, regarding the protection of function for architects, this would be unworkable in today’s multi-disciplinary and collaborative working environment, how would any particular service be ring fenced that other professionals may be qualified to offer and provide? This would be inconsistent with fair and open trade.‘
Peter Buchan, senior partner, Ryder Architecture:
‘How would we police the protection of function and what gives us the unique right to make buildings? The title architect means something to most people but key to the profession is communicating the benefits of registered architects over anyone else, rather than to rely just on protection.
‘If ARB stays it should be a stripped back, registration body with clear demarcation of role with RIBA (particularly around education) so that RIBA can be free to act on behalf of the profession without encumbrance.’
Yasmin Shariff of of Dennis Sharp Architects:
‘The reason for ARB and protecting title was in the interest of the consumer. But if there is no statutory requirement to engage an architect then how is the consumer to be protected? The only protection there is, is against the small number of lone practitioners vulnerable to ARB’s sanctions. This is a ridiculous scenario - the figures from the 2012 annual report say it all: 33,266 registrants, £3million income, £853,648 legal fees and six successful prosecutions. The ARB will soon be registering a body of computer graphic image generators where frogs, bats and snots will not conjure up fine brickwork detailing and we will all be dancing to the tune of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.’