In 2011, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), one of the biggest professional bodies for architects, published a report titled ‘The Future for Architects’. In it, the RIBA questioned whether mid-sized architect practices would have disappeared, work in the UK would all but have dried up, and if there would be ‘no more architects’ in 2025.
What does the architecture industry actually look like, 11 years on and 4 years until 2025? And how does this impact architects’ training and development, and how the future of this is still shaping? If you provide CPD for architects, read the below article to find out, and drop your own thoughts in the comments.
Recent Changes to CPD For Architects: The Building Safety Bill
In July 2021, the Building Safety Bill was introduced in Parliament by the Architects Registration Board (ARB), the UK’s regulatory body for architects. This Bill introduces a new scheme for monitoring CPD. This scheme will encourage architects to keep developing, and it gives the ARB new powers to monitor architects’ training and development. It has 4 principles; with each principle, we evaluate how it’ll shape future CPD for architects.
Improve the overall competence of the architectural profession, by promoting a culture of continuing professional development without being about “catching out individuals”. This suggests that CPD for architects is being prioritised to a higher extent. Additionally, a culture of CPD’s being encouraged more thoroughly.
The scheme will encourage architects to reflect on, plan, and evaluate their learning activities so that they’re tailored to their own practice and development needs. Tailored CPD is being seen as much more effective than one-size-fits all approaches. We’ve seen this across multiple industries, so it’s not too surprising to see CPD being more personalised for architects.
Learning should be proportionate and deliverable to architects. It should also avoid them having to make additional costs as far as possible. 70% of architects are already committed to carrying out annual CPD, according to the ARB’s research. Therefore, the new scheme will aim to formalise this learning.
Duplication should be avoided where possible, to allow for a CPD model that’s suitable for all architects and can work next to other schemes.
However, Alan Kershaw, ARB Chair, has stated that all architects and people working in the built environment, need to read and comment on these principles before they can implement the new scheme.
Overall, the ARB have stated that CPD for architects in future needs to positively impact overall competence in the profession, and allow for architects to tailor it to their own needs. Its overall aim is to let architects view time spent on CPD as a worthwhile investment in their development.
How Does This Impact Current CPD Requirements for Architects?
Currently, the RIBA requires chartered members to complete a minimum of 35 CPD hours a year. Around half of these need to be structured or formal learning. 20 of them must come from the 10 mandatory RIBA Core Curriculum CPD topics. Similarly, members of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) are required to complete at least 19.5 CPD hours a year from this core curriculum. However, will the new Building Safety Bill require the current structured topics to be altered to account for its 4 principles? And will CPD as a whole continue to be prescribed in this way? Or will it truly start to become more personalised depending on the needs of individuals, and the disruptions that they have to face?
The RIBA currently states that CPD enables architects “to achieve better outcomes and better businesses… …to content with disruption and to face current and future challenges as well as learn new skills and specialisms.”
Since 2020, these disruptions and challenges have intensified, and are no longer mere hypotheticals. Therefore, will CPD for architects focus on training architects to be resilient against disruptions? For instance, architects may need to remotely present design solutions to contractors at the last minute, in case of sudden social restrictions etc. Architects therefore need to be trained to convey information coherently despite this.
How Quickly Is CPD For Architects Evolving?
In the past, architecture has evolved relatively slowly compared to other industries. However, due to new technologies being introduced to the profession, Building Design+Construction (BD+C) have stated that the role of an architect’s currently changing faster than ever before. Therefore, we see that CPD will similarly have to progress very quickly to account for the new possibilities and responsibilities of the role.
Technology in CPD For Architects
Examples of technology being integrated into architecture, include the use of 3D printers and the overall evolution to robotic systemisation. The latter of these has already been used in such industries as car manufacturing. Introductions to automation may be sped up, as health concerns and supply issues might mean builders need automation on their sites. CPD for architects may therefore have to train them to alter their design styles, so that they can help building sites that are manned by robots and 3D printing-based building processes. This may involve them having to create more organic designs to adhere to new digital standards, which CPD will have to prepare them for.
Similarly, BD+C have stated that there’ll be less of a focus on the drawing process of construction documents, compared to a bigger focus on innovative solutions and how they support people using the space, as clients are becoming more sophisticated and want to understand more about the process. BD+C state that this move away from architectural drawings may result in the role of the architect being questioned, and therefore there needs to be more adaptability and flexibility in the profession so that it remains resilient.
In other words, CPD for architects needs to help them use new technologies in an adaptable way that fits alongside their role. This is necessary for them to demonstrate value and not have their role superseded by such technology.
Increased Functionality and Sustainability in Architecture
BD+C have noted that the architectural landscape is now focused on becoming more user-focused, with clients wanting to utilise smart features like user apps and sensors to investigate which spaces are being utilised, and which are needed more than others. Furthermore, clients want to use new technologies like data analytics to determine buildings’ life-cycle costs, and sustainable living is also increasingly emphasised as something architecture must focus on.
Overall, architects must keep in mind how to design buildings that will more innovatively support end-users and their business goals, and save energy. These will be key cornerstones of CPD for architects in the future.
There are many changes to the architecture profession, which have already been in the makings for the past decade. Back in 2015, research by the University of Westminster found that the 5 most likely developments were:
• Super-deep basements
• Floating sea citiies
• High-rise or rooftop farms
• 3D printed homes
• Buildings with their own micro-climate
Therefore, CPD for architects needs to help them focus on such advancements. When training, they overall need to spend more time learning about maximising efficiency and sustainability, as opposed to being at the drawing board.
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