Testing time for architects


TEN people who are practising as architects but do not have formal qualifications are the first to undertake compulsory assessment to be allowed to use the title architect.

“Architect” became a protected title with the enactment of the Building Control Act in 2007 but the controversial registration process has just started, following lengthy discussions and an ongoing dispute about what the assessment should entail.

Self-educated architects over 35 years of age are now required to undergo an assessment, costing €6,300, which includes the examination of four projects they have done over a 10-year period.

The registration will be processed through the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI). The work of the 10 self-educated practitioners is currently being assessed by a panel of architects. The final decision will be made by a board with a majority of non-architects. Director of the RIAI John Graby said “anyone who’s reasonably confident and working in the industry for more than 10 years should not have any problems” completing the assessment.

The new registration process is being introduced to protect consumers and maintain architectural standards and is by and for “common-or-garden architects”, he said. But the Architects’ Alliance which represents about 200 of an estimated 400 self-trained architects has rejected the assessment system. Spokesman for the Alliance Brian Montaut said architects with years of experience, were now to be assessed by “our competitors in the RIAI”.

He believed the assessment should be quantitative and that “no one should be looking at your work and saying ‘why is the window there?’ and ‘it’s not the way I would have designed it’. It should be a case that you provide evidence that you’ve been working as a professional in the industry”.

Graby insisted however that the RIAI wants to be inclusive and if architects were competent “they have nothing to fear”. He said people should undergo the assessment and register so they can get State work and be allowed to travel and work as architects within the EU.

The institute is compiling a database of people using the title architect without registration and will write to them about the law. “It is a criminal offence” to claim to be an architect without being registered, he said.

The Alliance has also criticised the cost of the assessment but Graby said this was the actual cost of the test to the institute. There will also allowances made for hardship cases, he said.