What does an Architect do? (Here’s a couple of thoughts)

Architectural Building

I love being an Architect. After almost 30yrs as a Registered Architect, I enjoy the many facets of what I do, of working with people and of being creative. But what does an Architect really do? I know many people have many opinions about this. I’m also sure there are many people who have no idea!

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) is the peak body behind 11,500 Architects in our country, and supporting the ideals of good design. The AIA notes the following on their website;

“Almost all Australians (97%) believe that cities and towns are better to live in when public buildings and public spaces are well-designed. Likewise, almost all Australians (96%) believe that homes and apartments provide a better living experience when they are well-designed. Quite simply, good design adds value.”

So, on one hand, Architects are responsible for designing buildings. However, architecture is so much more than physical structures. It is the space around and between buildings. It is the accommodation of how people use space. It is the generation of community and place for people to exist, whether at work, rest or play.

Architects need a vast array of skills to allow them to do their job. We can be artists, managers, leaders, visionaries, contractors, marriage counsellors, volunteers, collaborators or sounding boards (and many more). At all times, Architects work with clients who want solutions to challenges, or who need spaces created.

The Architect-Client relationship is critical to a successful project. In a previous Insight What are the Risks of Development? , I looked into some of the key elements and decisions of architectural development, based around the relationship between a client and their Architect. The AIA also provides information on this relationship on their website.

Architects create space, taking into account a myriad of project components such as geography, client requirements, climate, style, fashion, sustainability, surrounding context, Council guidelines, financial considerations, structural support, services and the landscape, (just to name a few).

With all of this in mind, there are a couple of additional points I would like to make about what we Architects do.

1. Anyone can design buildings, it’s true. It is not only Architects who design structures. Others can do this too, such as draftsmen, building designers, or owner builders. But Architects do it better. Through significant training and experience, Architects consider all aspects of their design, from global influences to regional, local and then the detail of how it physically goes together.

2. Architects are creative. Some are better than others, but Architects consider space, materials and light differently to, say, Builders or Engineers.
When I was a student at University, I found a piece of writing in a book by Le Corbusier, a famous French Architect working in the early 1900s. In his book “Towards a New Architecture”, he summarised what I love about being an Architect (with the greatest respect to Engineers who are also integral to design);

“My house is practical. I thank you, as I might thank Railway Engineers or the Telephone service. You have not touched my heart. But suppose that walls rise towards heaven in such a way that I am moved. I perceive your intentions. Your mood has been gentle, brutal, charming or noble. The stones you have erected tell me so.”

If you are considering a project of any sort, talk to an Architect and find out what value they can add to your development. Better still, talk to Alchemy Consulting.

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