Protecting and promoting the architectural profession

The practice of architecture is completely different from how it was in the past, thus there is a need to promote the profession. Today, there are some gray areas— an overlapping of professions—and architecture has been affected. 

The playing field between architecture and other allied professions has become so competitive that people are beginning to wonder the right professional for the right profession. Yet-I wonder why it is taking so long for government bodies to streamline, delineate, regulate, and police the practice of professionals?

Architecture: Then and now

Thirty-or-so years back, the definition of architecture in school was just plain simple: it was the art and science of buildings. Today, as defined by law, the practice of architecture is the art, science or profession of planning, designing and constructing buildings in their totality, taking into account their environment in accordance with the principles of utility, strength and beauty. 

The definition of “architect” has also evolved with the times. During my early years, the meaning of architect was “one who is qualified to design and construct buildings or vertical structures.” Period. As simple as that. Today it is defined as a person who is professionally and academically qualified, a person registered and licensed under the Republic Act 9266 or the Architecture Act of 2004, with a certificate of registration and professional Identification Card, responsible for advocating the fair and sustainable development, welfare and cultural expression of society’s habitat in terms of space, forms and historical context.

Allow me to get to the gist of the topic. There are a few concerns that need to be understood well. First is that architecture today is not only concerned with manual design drawings where skills are required, but also with comprehending the digital skills of the internet and other apps on the computer wizardry.

Architects no longer manually present their designs, they do it digitally using different kinds of programs, such as Building Information Modeling, SketchUp, Lumion, AutoCAD, and the like. This is where elder architects get lost in the myriad of trends and hire younger architects to guide them through the matrix of computerization.

However, the more seasoned senior architects who are already at a stable point in their careers and with the trust and confidence of their clients need not worry because they have already mastered the skills of communicating, which can carry them through their presentations. No matter what digital innovations come along, the creativity inherent in the mind of a skilled architect cannot be easily replicated by a laptop.

A continuously evolving practice

Secondly, architecture is not just focused on vertical structures today, it is also on a compounded complex of buildings related to each other, including the terrain and environment. Furthermore, it now involves more disciplines or professions that create a more comprehensive package. It is no longer reliant on the singularity of an architect but on the plurality of a team of expert professionals where the architect orchestrates to produce a satisfying piece of work.

Thirdly, which to me is the most important, is the advantage of digital presentation in three-dimensional form. It is through this advancement in technology that the client can see how the project will be, which can convince them to invest before the cement is first poured. It is here where the client will be able to go through all the spaces, rooms, offices, lobbies in 3D before it is constructed.

Lastly is the protection of the profession. Because the digital age has dawned on all of us, architecture is readily available to anyone who can just pick up a hammer and follow online instructions on building vertical structures without the services of the right professional.

People are now more confident with the do-it-yourself approach. Doing business through the internet has also changed the mindset of society, making some people believe they are capable of doing certain things, not mindful that architecture and other professions like medicine, engineering, accounting, dentistry, and many more, are regulated and specialized professions that not everyone is qualified for.

It is our obligation to re-educate society what our professional roles and functions are since architecture now has elevated to a higher level of excellence. We should be able to show what architects can do, the value we bring to clients which can never be duplicated or be done by other allied professionals or illegal practitioners.