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The Value of the Architect is Universal 

Written By Devonne Coll

BA (Hons), MArch, PG Dip., RIBA

Images Supplied By Formwork Architecture, Habitats Architectural Design Inc. and Leslie St. John

Architects form the backbone of the design and construction industry, yet their value is often underestimated. The term architect originates from the Greek words Arkhi and Tekton, translating to master builder. Providing much more than design expertise, architects bring a wealth of knowledge to their projects, regardless of the type or location. They utilise a vast set of invaluable and complex skills to create spaces that are inspiring, aesthetically beautiful, and technologically ground-breaking as well as being responsive and adaptive to its surroundings.  


The foundations for these vital skills are built through architectural education. The process of becoming an architect is far greater than simply learning how to design a building or draft construction drawings. In addition to design and theory, architectural education encompasses construction and technology, business management, finance, legal obligations and contracts. Architects must also have a robust understanding of government policies relating to planning and regulations. It is a grueling, long and difficult process, comprising multiple degrees and typically taking between 6-10 years to complete, country dependent. Ultimately, passion is what drives most architects to thrive in their industry, and is a key factor of why they are such a valued profession.  


Architectural education focuses greatly on critical thinking and how to create designs that are innovative, practical and responsive. Taught in a close studio setting, project briefs focus on themes of intense problem solving, with collaboration, coordination and research at its heart. It is not uncommon for briefs to be set in locations that are different to where the architect is studying. This encourages students to engage with unfamiliar territories and become proficient at thinking outside the box. This incites a sense of adaptability and a hunger for discovering new terrains. As a result, many architects go on to work in different places to where they are from or studied.   


Translating these skills earned from education into the real world is where architects really shine. Architectural design is not purely aesthetic; the process is formulated by understanding and interrogating contextual, environmental, social, economic and spatial qualities of the chosen space or place. A design must take these contributing factors into account to be both responsive and ultimately successful. By questioning all design decisions made, architects ensure the best outcome is reached for all projects. These decisions can vary widely, from design methodologies, materials and technologies used, to project programmes and both financial and contractual choices. This vast level of expertise and unique way of thinking is often unrivaled.  


While the design process is incredibly important, the regulations surrounding it are also crucial. As licensed professionals, architects carry a high level of legal responsibility, regardless of where they practice. They must abide by local laws and building regulations as well as planning policies and processes. A strict professional code of conduct is also enforced, which ensures architects practice with honesty and integrity. They must be competent, trustworthy and respectful, have professional indemnity insurance, co-operate with regulations, manage their business with the utmost competency, and deal with disputes appropriately. An architect must uphold these values at all costs.  


In addition to legal responsibility, architects practice with a strong moral compass. Sustainability, and the ability to look ahead to the future, drives how they think and work. This can influence the types of spaces they create, the types of materials and construction methods chosen, how sites are utilised, and how the carbon footprint of a project can be reduced. In our contemporary world, designing and building sustainably are imperative; it is extremely important to work with a professional who understands why and how to do this.  


Although architecture manifests in a very physical format, it is ultimately about people. Architects understand how people use spaces and the built environment, as well as their needs and desires. This understanding is key in the creation of successful architecture. Architects are passionate about creating spaces that positively impact their clients, from the homes they live in; to places of work or play; to the public spaces that surround them every day. It is a responsibility and privilege to shape the places in which people spend their lives, which is why architects possess such a deep desire for the value of good design.   


Understanding the diverse role that architects play within the industry, reveals how crucial their input is for all design and construction projects. Their work process, combined with design knowledge, project management skills, ability to liaise with authorities and coordinate entire design teams, sets architects apart from other professionals within the construction industry. Universally speaking, an architect’s knowledge base, thought process and passion for their craft is unmatched. The unique value they bring is essential for positively creating and shaping the world of tomorrow.  

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