Are the skills of architectural technologists undervalued?

Team working at Bennetts Associates... but is the relationship between architects and architectural technologists as happy?

Are the skills of architectural technologists undervalued?

They are thought of as a lesser breed of desingers who haven’t made the grade, says Mark Kennett; while Richard Brindley argues that architects and technologists value and respect each other


Mark Kennett
Mark Kennett

President, CIAT

There is in some circles an idea that anyone working on a building project who is not an architect is somehow inferior; part of the lesser breed of designers going by various names, who haven’t quite made the grade.

Sitting alongside the architect in practice, the chartered architectural technologist is sometimes incorrectly described as either an architect or architectural technician. Both of these are distinct professional qualifications in their own right.

Since its foundation in 1965, the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists has sought to raise the profile of those in the architectural technology profession, through accrediting honours degree courses in architectural technology and ultimately receiving chartered status in 2005.

Architectural technologists may not always be fully understood by the public or employers. The chartered architectural technologist and architect have distinct skills and specialisms which balance extremely well and are important to the built environment. The effective and strong partnership between CIAT and RIBA harnesses and recognises these.

There are those who describe themselves as architectural technologists but have not demonstrated their competences. It could be argued that this is what devalues the profession.

While there are those in architectural technology who are undervalued by others who do not understand their role, CIAT is there to ensure there is no reason why this should be the case.


Richard Brindley

Executive director, RIBA professional services

There has been much recent debate in the press about the skills and role of architectural technologists in practice, raising questions about the technical skills of architects, and whether architectural technologists are drafted in to plug gaps in their knowledge.

This kind of speculation does serious discredit to both professions. Architectural technologists often play a fundamentally important role in a building or construction scheme, bringing to the project unique skills that complement and enhance the work of the practice as a whole.

The role of the architect and the architectural technologist are discrete. The latter forms the link between the architect’s concept and the completed construction; together through the design development process they bridge the gap between the idea and reality of a building in functional and aesthetic terms.

Students of architecture spend a significant amount of time on construction and technical practice, providing them with a solid knowledge of the construction industry, but it is important that collaboration between both practitioners is fostered.

RIBA and CIAT collaborate frequently and have formed a technical task force to address technical issues, respond to government consultations and issue good practice guidance. The two professions have evolved together, and as in all partnerships work most effectively when they value and respect each other’s unique skills.

What do you think?