Ask The Expert

In this first in a series of blogs for Insider Wales, Director Toby Adam explains the lengthy training process for architects, the protection of title that applies and the benefits you will enjoy by employing an architect for your design project.

GFA Offices in Womanby Street, Cardiff

We appreciate that not every prospective client is fully enthusiastic about employing yet another consultant. Professional advice is an additional cost after all, and people often think they know what they want out of a project. However, when a skilled architect practitioner leads the creative design process, it is a powerful tool for testing assumptions, trying out new ideas, and finding unexpected solutions.

Architects are highly skilled and professionally trained to turn your aspirations into reality. Training an architect takes around seven years, usually including a degree, a masters, and finally a professional practice qualification which is taken after a minimum 24 months of work experience. This is an arduous process, but graduates of the UK architectural education system enter the profession with a well-deserved world-wide reputation for excellence.

Architects are a “regulated profession” in the UK and so the use of the title is protected. This means only people who are on the register of architects can use it. Other professions that have similar protections include medical professions such as Paramedics and Physiotherapists, legal roles including Barristers and other highly skilled jobs with obvious public safety impacts like Air Traffic Controllers. The regulating body for architects is the Architects Registration Board (ARB), who are responsible for protecting the title, approving architecture qualifications, and maintaining the register of those entitled to call themselves “architect”. The more well-known Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) does not have a direct role in the protection of title but is a global professional membership body that promotes excellence in architecture through advice, publications, and awards. Joining the RIBA, or becoming an RIBA Chartered Practice, is a way of demonstrating a commitment to meeting the highest professional standards, ethics, and competence.

Architects can guide you through all the different stages of the design process; from the first briefing conversations and testing the initial business case to submitting for planning permission. Then they can lead the project through to tendering and construction, and even remain involved after the building is finished, helping make sure the completed project is working as it was intended. Following a building throughout its lifespan, and not just walking away when the ribbon is cut at the opening ceremony, has been given much more prominence with the increased focus on sustainability. Architects can have a huge role to play in helping organisations meet their own sustainability targets such as net zero, and the running costs of a building are now at centre stage as energy costs are soaring.

Architects apply creative thinking to all different scales of project, small to large. They add value – be it maximising natural light, lowering energy use, adding functionality, or achieving a return on investment. However, it is in the unexpected idea where the real value of employing an architect lies – offering a client something that they had not imagined themselves, but which elegantly and beautifully solves the problem, is a richly rewarding experience for all those involved.

“A good architect actually pays for themselves – more than once. You will reap the reward and the building will be hugely better and deliver much better value for it.” Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs

To discuss your project, you can contact Toby using the details below.

Toby Adam

Director, Gaunt Francis Architects, 23 Womanby Street, Cardiff

Tel: 029 2023 3993

Email: Toby.Adam@gauntfrancis.co.uk

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