The Design Team Leader?

  • Building Design Expert
  • 4 years ago

Once upon a time there there was a default answer that nobody dared to question. Increasingly we are attending seminars, lectures and updates (notably under the far reaching umbrella of Building Information Modelling – BIM) where the keynote speakers are structural engineers, services managers and, with the seemingly unstoppable popularity of design and build – Contractors!

So is the traditional Architect fighting for his, or her, survival? Well yes, perhaps the ‘traditional’ architect is, because ‘Traditional’ is a word under significant pressure, and those professionals with a more contemporary outlook tend to fair better in the faster changing aspects of our industry.

The profession should perhaps be flattered at the generic adoption of the title Architect. As a protected title it’s use in modern day parlance extends, by others, to describe anyone who dares to design a building, a computer system and even their own destiny. The IT reference is certainly one of the newest, but should pose little threat to the RIBA.

From the outside looking in to the architect’s goldfish bowl, the profession seems to have become one now founded upon adoption of tradition, as opposed to traditional adoption; a school of architecture that still expounds the theory that architects are in a class of their own when it comes to opinion, knowledge and stature concerning issues of the built environment. There is, however, a much younger school that has adopted a more current attitude to what matters in the construction industry and indeed its associated environments. The older school is losing students on a gradual basis but will never close as long as it receives support from the dominant media publications that refuse to acknowledge that there is indeed another team on the pitch. But far from being a battle, both teams are actually playing towards the same goal.

There is no doubt, and therefore no argument that the sheer numbers of registered architects in the UK produces a loud and note worthy voice. But a distinct lack of reinvention of the brand, coupled with a continued reliance upon traditional standing, seems to have failed to have noticed the assembly of a new model army quietly taking on design issues on a science based technical front.

Some decades ago Architects and Technicians worked together as a team to design and detail our buildings. The system worked, but like all systems it was bound to evolve. Such evolution brought about a name change, degree qualification, a royal charter, and a quite distinct professional standing that identifies the Chartered Architectural Technologist as the Architect’s professional equal.

Technological development has led to our current carbon heavy environment, and spawned the need for a better paved pathway to sustainable design. The Chartered Architectural Technologist’s approach to building design, integrated with a detailed understanding of ‘the science of building’, places this profession in a position to specify appropriate materials, and use technology to promote ethical sustainability, providing true value within our industry and the environmental issues that surround it.

Design within the built environment has evolved. The teenage technician has matured into a responsible adult technologist, with a unique understanding of the technical issues that dominate sustainable design. The qualification provides a science based approach to art; in contrast to the architect’s art based approach to a science. Neither is wrong, but it prompts the notion that the media headline should read “Both Architects and Architectural Technologists should jointly lead on Sustainable Design”.