Architecture is all around us. Every sheltered space was at one point dreamt up, designed and created by an Architect, or at least under the guidance of one. But, what do Architects do precisely? What are the key architect services? And what is their job description?
Whilst the practical, technical and academic requirements for becoming an Architect vary depending on location; there are a few stock-standard services that all Architects should understand and offer. There are three role categories: The Design Role, The Environmental Role, and The Construction Role.
The Design Role
Design is the driving force throughout Architecture. The ability to draw, the understanding of scale and the skill of interpreting space effectively is, and will always be an essential quality of being an Architect. Once appointed by the client, an Architect is responsible for deciphering the brief and working toward a design concept and final execution that is both suitable to the facility’s intended use and an appropriate answer to the client’s brief. Most Architects will find that the expectations and vision of the client are not always clear, especially in the beginning stages of a brief; therefore, it is a prerequisite for an Architect to have foresight, as well as the ability to problem-solve with little-to-no assistance.
Architects must produce pragmatic, imaginative and original designs and proposals. A team of people work together on these solutions. Architectural teams include Surveyors, Engineers – Architectural, Civil and Structural, and those who offer other specialised Architectural services.
The Environmental Role
In years gone by, the construction industry did not consider the environment at all. With the current state of our climate, it has become our duty to take the impact of everything we do into account. As such, the environmental role of an Architect has substantially increased. This includes making provision for elements such as low-energy transport; natural lighting as opposed to the installation of artificial lights to reduce electrical consumption; natural ventilation rather than air conditioning; pollution before, during and after construction; using materials that can be easily recycled in the future; and finally, sufficient waste management. Another key responsibility in regard to the environment is to ensure a reduced carbon footprint, by any means possible.
The Construction Role
In the late, more detailed stages of the design, the plans for the construction of the building become a focus. In this phase, Architects will put a project out to tender on behalf of their client and recommend the award of the project to a contractor. Architects assist with the administration between the contractor and the client. Present the notification to the relevant authority for independent inspections to take place before construction starts.
There are a few key architect services. In practice, Architects have technical, practical and environmental knowledge; can communicate with, serve and retain clients; and ultimately, possess the skill to research, plan, design and develop proposals. The application of technology has become an increasingly significant portion of an Architect’s duties as a service provider. They need to be familiar with and trained in drafting systems, model building, and any other relevant technologies. Experimenting with different approaches and construction software is expected, alongside basic office software understanding, word processing, spreadsheets and accounting systems.
In addition, receiving a form of tertiary education from an accredited college or university is required to become a qualified Architect. This is before participating in an internship or starting their professional career. In South Africa, qualified Architects have to register with the SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) to ensure that you are adequately qualified.
It is evident that the professional responsibility of an Architect entails a whole lot more than meets the eye, and Architecture is no longer as simple as drawing a few sketches and plans with vision of constructing a building. Today, Architects are so much more specialised than that.