At a recent industry conference we were asked the question ‘What is an Architectural Technologist? I’ve heard of an Architect but not of an Architectural Technologist.’ It seems to us that the wider public really have no idea what the role of an Architectural Technologist is and so we thought that perhaps we should try to set the record straight and explain the difference.
My dictionary defines an Architect as:
‘One who plans and draws the designs of buildings and superintends their erection; a designer of some complex work; a contriver, planner.’
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) defines the Technologist’s role thus:
‘Architectural Technologists,’ ‘are experts concerned primarily with the sound technical performance of buildings. They are specialists in building design and construction and can initiate and complete a building project from conception through to final certification. They undertake a wide range of work including domestic, commercial and industrial projects.’
So based on these definitions we could argue that in many respects there is no material difference between the two professions, although I have often heard the difference described thus; ‘An architect delivers the conceptual design and the technologist delivers the technical design, that is, the nuts and bolts of how a building is constructed not just how it will look and be used.’
Technologists often work closely with Architects and can form the link between the Architect’s concept and the completed construction, of course many Technologists work as sole practitioners and have full responsibility for the conceptual design normally associated with Architects and are very successful at it. Equally many Architects are fully equipped to deliver complex construction detailing to compliment their conceptual design.
The CIAT defines the difference as:
‘...Architectural Technologists and architects are qualified and competent to lead construction projects from design through to completion. The difference is within the specialisms that they will bring to a project. Chartered Architectural Technologists’ training and emphasis is the science and technology of architecture and architects’ training and emphasis is the design and philosophy of architecture. Whilst both disciplines have their own distinct training and specialism, there is considerable overlap between the two professions.’
Whether a particular project needs an Architect or an Architectural Technologist to lead the design team is a matter for the client to decide based upon the individual practitioner’s experience, capabilities and portfolio.